“Excellence is not a skill. It is an attitude.” (Ralph Marston)

Excellence refers to something being outstanding, of high quality, outstanding, superior, great and the very best. Every follower of Christ aspires to excellence in their walk with and service for the Lord (1 Timothy 3:13).

The Old Testament prophet Daniel was distinguished because of his excellent spirit.

Daniel became distinguished above all the other high officials and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him. (Daniel 6:3)

Excellence is internal

Daniel’s rise to prominence was not the result of external skill and ability alone. There is no doubt that he was an intelligent, hard working man who developed his gifts. But essentially the key to his success was internal. It was the development and care of his inner person that set him up for a blessed life. He worked on being excellent on the inside. It was his devotion, godliness, integrity and character that made him excellent at what he did. “Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7) If we are Christlike on the inside we will bear good fruit on the outside. Excellence is internal.

Excellence is incremental

Excellence is not a gift given suddenly. It is a process developed gradually and painfully. Daniel grew into excellence little by little. By the time this comment was made about him in chapter six he was an elderly man. Through a lifetime of difficulty and disappointment he had learned to use each challenge as a building block for his character. From the time he was taken captive as a young man and exiled to Babylon, he met each trial and opportunity with an exemplary attitude. “And the word of the Lord will be to them precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little.” (Isaiah 28:13) It is in the small, almost incidental things, that big people are made. Excellence is incremental.

Excellence is influential

Daniel was not a self promoter. Every ‘big-break’ presented itself to him. In times of national crisis it was Daniel’s proven excellent attitude that gave him unusual favour with those in power. It is providence, not human manipulation that opens the door to true influence. “What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.” (Isaiah 22:22) An excellent spirit paved the way for extraordinary influence, both in his own lifetime and beyond. People are looking for an opportunity, but God is looking for excellent people (Ezekiel 22:30). If we are faithful with little we can be trusted with much (Luke 16:10). Excellence is influential.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore is not an act, but a habit.” (Aristotle) The world needs more Daniels who are busy cultivating a spirit of excellence.