30 (blogs) for (turnings) 30: Day 22: Striving for Excellence

Posted: May 6, 2014 in Uncategorized

Throughout the course of this blog series, you’ve heard a lot about a few major things that are taking place in my life these days. Music, teaching, comedy and, of course, turning 30. This particular blog entry is going to bring most of those together, because I just returned home from one of the largest messes I’ve ever seen grace a stage of any kind, and it got me thinking about the word “excellence.”

I don’t think we as a people really work that hard to be excellent at most things we do. We settle for “oh, I got the job done, so who cares if I did my best” or “whatever…it doesn’t matter anyway,” even when we know we’re capable of being better. I see this in my 7th graders all the time. Rather than make an effort to get an A or a B, they settle for passing. Or they settle for failing because trying would require too much effort. I saw this tonight on stage at The Comedy Zone.

I was helping out with the Fight Night competition, an opportunity for people who are trying to make it in the comedy business to have some stage time and, for the top three, to move onto a bigger competition later in the year. The top three also walk away with prizes, and while they aren’t life changing numbers, it’s cool to be recognized. Tonight, I saw nothing but train wreck after train wreck take the stage. People were unprepared, disrespectful and mostly dabbling in low-brow humor that any idiot who has seen an Adam Sandler movie could come up with. I kept looking at the other people who were there helping out (and some of the employees who work there) and asking why these people were allowed on stage. I’m not pretending to be an expert in the field, but I have been on stage enough to know that you don’t go up there without being ready. I’d say 95% of the people who got up there tonight had no business anywhere near the stage. They shouldn’t have even been allowed inside the building. To make matters worse, the guy who “won” the competition wasn’t even funny; he just brought the most people, and walked away with a cool $100 to top it off.

The evening wasn’t a wash, though. For one, it made me feel better about what I’m about to do for my graduation set on Monday. And secondly, it made me feel more confident about when it’s my turn to take the Fight Night stage on June 3. I’ll be prepared. So even if I don’t win, as least I’ll know I did right by myself and by the audience.

Then I got a nice little surprise in my email inbox: a rough first mix of the first song for my upcoming worship album. That’s all I listened to on the way home. It’s not ready for public consumption yet, but I promise as soon as I have a song that is, I’ll be ready to share it with everyone who wants to hear it. I’m excited at how it’s coming along so far, and I look forward to hearing the rest.

I leave you with this for tonight, mostly because it is so very appropriate in terms of the idea of striving to be the best I can be in all things. I’m not always the best at this. I get down at work because it’s exhausting and the kids are not cooperating and things aren’t going as I planned. I don’t want to give my all in those moments, even though I know better. I don’t always work my hardest to the be the best friend, son or person I can be, because being right is difficult because it’s going against the current. It makes me think about what Paul said to the Corinthians about this: “24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable” (1 Corinthians 9: 24-25). Again, I’m not perfect at this, but I would like to think that I am continually striving to be better.

Without that, I’m just spinning the wheels and going nowhere. And if I’m not going anywhere, then what am I doing anyway?

 

God bless,

Robert

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