The Dangers of Pursuing Worldly Excellence

Daniel Darnell talks about how dangerous it can be to pursue excellence aside from the way God designed it. Seeking excellence as the world seeks it is unhealthy and can only lead to things like pride, jealousy, and greediness.

Here are some of the main points:

There’s kind of three words that I would describe worldly excellence as. We have perfectionism, achievement-driven, and competitive.

So, in the world, what happens often is when we’re striving for excellence, it turns into these three things.

It turns into perfectionism. It’s trying to be perfect in everything that we do.

It turns into achievement-driven. We’re trying to seek getting things done and getting applause for what we do.

And you have competition. Obviously competition is destructive within the church, but in the world, competition is what drives a lot of our excellence. We want to be the best product. Apple is always wanting to pursue excellence cause they want to be the best product. They want you to buy their product, so they get very competitive with their excellence.

In the church, the dangers we run into with allowing worldly excellence to seep in and to soak in to what we’re doing in our ministries is, perfectionism for example, is incredibly unhealthy and what it leads towards is towards performance and away from honesty.

I know this is something I struggle with. I’m a persister. I want things done right and want them done the way I would want to do them. So it can really really drive me to get something done rather than ask the question, “Why am I working on this? What is this trying to accomplish?”

Achievement-driven ministry leads to greediness, and it leads to the pursuit of applause and approval from our pastors, our peers, and our congregations.

And then competitive ministry is just exhausting. If you’ve ever been in a competitive world, you’re always one step behind that other church or that other ministry. And it’s just exhausting, and it just leads towards jealousy and pride.

So, worldly excellence is one of those things that has seeped into our church. Maybe not our church specifically, but our churches, especially in America. You think about it, with excellence, it’s when you get really, really angry with your sound guy for messing up again on that Sunday, or your guitarist or whoever for messing up their line. There’s nothing wrong with you being frustrated with someone messing up, right? But when it turns to anger, it’s cause you’re pursuing perfectionism in that excellence.

Achievement-driven, when you’re trying to seek applause from your congregation, and then when you don’t get it, when you don’t get praise for that new song you introduced or that new song you wrote, and no one comes up and says, “Man, I really, really like that song.” If we’re achievement-driven in our excellence, then we’re going to be really, really let down when we don’t get that praise.

And then, like I said, the competitive idea is we’re just going to be judging other churches and wish we had what they had, or we’re going to think that our church or our ministry is the best, and we’re going to get really, really prideful and forget that what we have is all a blessing from God.

Daniel Darnell

About Daniel Darnell

Daniel Darnell serves as the South Campus Worship Leader for The Austin Stone Community Church. In his free time he enjoys exploring the great city of Austin with his wife and discovering the amazing food the city has to offer.