Just Do Your Best

May 26, 2018
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I am privileged to live in a retirement facility where I continue to learn from other residents and members of the staff.

Recently, a waitress was given the opportunity to fulfill the role of the dining room manager when that manager was absent for a week. The following week, when she was serving breakfast, a number of us were teasing her and pointing out that she was now just an ordinary worker and no longer a manager. After the laughter had died down, I went to her in private and said how well she had done and that we were very proud of her. Very humbly, she thanked me, and then she said, "I only tried to do my best."

Her wise response made me think how so much of our society is based on trying to be better than someone else. In sports, we always want our team to defeat the competition. In school, we want to get higher marks than fellow students. In business, we place high value on those who succeed in competitive situations, even if others are sometimes hurt in the process.

Occasionally, we hear the famous quote from Grantland Rice: "It's not whether you win or lose; it's how you play the game." Sometimes, we will hear an Olympian speak of exceeding a personal best. But most of the time, all the talk is about who defeated whom and by how much.

This desire to be better than someone else is ingrained in us early in life. At our Christmas party for the children of staff, there were balloons twisted in various shapes. Our manager has three children, including an adorable three-year-old boy. He picked up a balloon that was shaped like a sword. One of our residents (95 years old and very tall) picked one up and the two of them engaged in a sword fight. It was hilarious and great entertainment for all of us.

What impressed me, however, was the resolute look on the face of the three-year-old. He was determined to win, it seemed, at all costs. Later, when I discussed it with his father, he agreed that we tend to bring up our children to win. Society seems to dictate that we must win at all costs. Much of the stress in life comes from the fact that we always seem to be striving to be better or more successful than someone else.

I believe that God wants us to do our very best. Vince Lombardi is quoted as saying, "The measure of who we are is what we do with what we have."

But here is the ultimate challenge:

Revelation 2:10b – Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. (KJV)

If we do this, surely, then we will follow the example of doing our best and not be concerned whether we are better than someone else.

Prayer: Dear Father, help us to rise above the noise around us urging us to be better than others. Help us to realize that Your simple yet profound command is to be faithful in our love for You and service to others. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.

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About the author:

Vincent Walter <vwalter@bell.net>
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Good one. Thank you, Vincent.

    A good word for us all. Thank you.

    A timely reminder, Vincent. Thanks for sharing.

    Good word today Vincent.

    Thank you, Vincent, for focusing our thoughts on what’s truly important. Blessings.

    Thank you for this excellent and well written devotional! May God continue to bless you!

    What an excellent devotional! Thank you! I will keep it, as a reminder that not only do I not have to win, but I don’t even have to be equal.

    Thanks for your wonderful wise morning message I am going to forward to my nephews and a few others.
    Thanks and have a beautiful day.

    Thanks for writing this, Vincent … it is so true, and something we need to be reminded of on a regular basis. Even as Seniors, we can get into this mind-set.

    Well said. Thank you for sharing those words of Scripture. I have recently been thinking how as children we grow up learning to do well for ourselves, to be independent, and to not need help. We haven’t fully grown up yet until we have learned to be like Jesus.

    Nicely put Vince. Hope things are stabilizing for you and your daughter too. I do not seem to be running into you often, so hope all is at least as well as can be expected and maybe even some good surprises along the way. Thanks and thinking of you.

    Hi Vincent,
    Enjoyed your devotional this morning, you are right, it seems like it is all about winning so often, about being better than someone else.
    Thank you for writing.

    Our whole North American culture is imbedded with this idea.
    But not everybody can be a leader or a winner. I doubt very much that is God’s plan or we would all be created with the same gifts and abilities. And how does that make the rest feel?
    Your message is what they need to hear, as indeed do all of us, who fail from time to time.

    God bless you for going to that young lady and talking to her. I bet it meant a lot to her. This is so true, if we would all get that… we do our best and we do it unto the Lord.
    I have a feeling you are a ray of sunshine in this place, God has you planted in the right garden to help others grow.
    God bless.

    Well, Vincent, I thought perhaps Americans might be the only “win,win,win” culture. On a serious note, thank you for writing today’s devotional. We are leaving shortly for a grandson’s high school graduation where, I am sure, those who have “won” will be honored. Thank you for putting things in perspective this morning.

    Dear Vincent,
    Thank you for sharing this experience and your God-centred insights into it, in your devotional. How pervasive and subtle (and not so subtle) is this world view! The Scripture and your prayer draw our focus beautifully back to where it belongs! I think, too, that the inner drive so many of us have, to be “better” than what we are, comes from that worldly source, fed by the enemy. In both cases, we lose peace and don’t realize God’s gentle and loving call to us, to be faithful to Him, for there is no greater call than that.
    Thank you again. God bless you!

    Vincent, thanks for your kind and thoughtful message.
    Doing our best is a good thing to strive for, especially with God at our side.

    Dear Vincent,
    Your devotional calls to mind two incidents from my past:
    In grade school, report cards were a big source of comparison and competition: how many A’s did one receive and how much were we rewarded/paid for the grades we received.
    Later in life, I was an assistant scoutmaster in my son’s Boy Scout Troop – the best job I ever had. When we dealt with boys and evaluated their efforts, the standard we strived to judge the boys by was whether they had done their best.
    The important things was not so much the actual result, but the effort and whether it was their best.

    Dear Vincent,
    “Be faithful unto death and I will give you a crown of life” said Jesus.
    And he said too, “it is not by works of righteousness which you have done, but by his grace he saves us.” Eph. 2:8

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