June 17, 2024

“Then this Daniel became distinguished above all the other high officials and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him. And the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom.” – Daniel 6:3 (ESV)

Athletic excellence can be defined as an athlete’s performance that goes beyond a previous achievement. It can be based on an athlete’s personal record or compared to other athletes. Professional baseball hitters are considered to be great if they get a hit every third time at bat. Professional basketball players are considered excellent if they make half of their shots from three-point range. If soccer players make one goal for every five shots they attempt, they are celebrated for their excellence. Athletes of excellence put in daily effort through training, such as practicing regularly, following a schedule, and always trying to improve. They develop mental toughness and resilience by setting goals, focusing on the process, and sticking to the plan. Athletes of excellence hold themselves accountable for their attitude, words, and actions. They point the thumb at themselves rather than pointing the finger at others.

Daniel had what it took to be excellent! He could have been content to merely survive as a captive in a foreign land (Babylon). Instead he chose to lead a life of discipline, character and commitment. He refused to compromise on his diet, eating only vegetables. He refused to take credit for interpreting dreams, instead giving God the glory. He spoke the truth regardless of the consequences. He prayed daily, even though it could have cost him his life. He refused bribes while staying faithful to his friends and beliefs. Great leaders in sport, business or in faith, first value excellence. They refuse to settle for average. They pay attention to detail; they have integrity; they respect others; they go the extra mile; they always give 100% and they never stop improving. Most importantly, great leaders remember that excellence is a gift from God and that He walks with them each day through the Holy Spirit.

Lord God, You are worthy of my best in all that I do, say and think. While I continue to fall short in this effort, I know that You will never give up on me. Give me the strength to keep striving. Give me wisdom to put my trust in You. Give me the heart to seek You and not this world. In Jesus’s name, Amen.

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