Excellence is Attractive

Disney Theme Parks change their lightbulbs when there is 30% expected life remaining. Why? Disney leadership made the decision that they would spend more to make sure their guests never see a burned-out bulb on their visit. They want a Disney experience to be magical.

This quality carries over to film as well. Disney is masterful at its storytelling, and their movies are beautiful, clever and consistently excellent. Most Christian parents end up grudgingly allowing children to watch these movies despite messages of humanistic and neo-pagan philosophy, because they are so well done. Disney demonstrates an important point about excellence. Quality can break down barriers and reach those who are not typically drawn to the message or product.

Christians as Thought and Industry Leaders

Excellence is attractive. This is an important reminder for Christians in all industries. We have the greatest hope the world will ever know. It is a message for everyone. All human beings have the greatest need of the truth about sin and the hope in Jesus Christ. The world and everything in it exists from God and by God and for God. Despite deep connection with the most important realities—and the greatest Reality of God, Christians may not typically be seen as leaders in industries and fields of human endeavor.

Why would that be?

First, there are sometimes unbiblical notions that creep into Christian thought. Specifically, the idea that since the world has become cursed through sin, a Christian pursuing holiness should not be involved with it. In this mindset, the spiritual is preferred over the physical world. It is difficult to pursue the thousands of hours it takes to master your craft if you feel like it may not be worth it—or even counterproductive.

We need to reject that kind of thinking. The physical world and all its fantastic intricacies (art, music and science among them) are created by God and were declared as “very good” (Genesis 1:31). Christians should work harder than anyone, knowing we have a heavenly master and that none of our efforts are in vain (Colossians 3:23, 1 Cor 15:57).

Secondly, since the people telling the stories in media and film do not typically have Christian values, they often tell our stories but miss the point of them. Two recent examples from movies are Unbroken and McFarland USA.   In Unbroken, the whole movie is told as a story of courage and endurance against incredible odds, which is true. However, Louis Zamperini would have said the meaning of his suffering was chiefly that God preserved his life to enable Him to understand God’s forgiveness of his own sin, a forgiveness he then extended to those who treated him so brutally as a POW. In McFarland USA, the movie suggests that a football coach on his last chance gets stuck in a town where he cannot coach football and overcomes his prejudice to recruit Hispanics on his cross-country team with great success. The true story is that the man was a Christian and a science teacher who helped restart the cross-country program even though he was not a runner. He loved all his kids. He and his wife saw running as a way to teach life lessons and the truth about Jesus. I personally think the true stories are more compelling than the film versions.

Third, I confess I overstated my case at the beginning. There are examples of Christian leaders whose excellence causes others to be drawn to them despite disagreement. Chik-Fil-A and In-N-Out Burger have led their respective niches with great brand loyalty. Chik-Fil-A has taken a stand for Biblical families and marriage and they have chosen to be closed on Sundays to care for their people and honor a day of rest for God. In-N-Out has grown slowly because of its insistence on being debt free. Coaches like Clemson’s Dabo Swinney or business owners like David Green of Hobby Lobby have led with an excellence that draws others.

It’s Our Turn

As believers, we have a responsibility to do our very best not simply to earn a living or make a name for ourselves—but to do our work for God.  Donnie Smith, former CEO of Tyson foods said, “Excellence is the currency of the marketplace.” Our excellent work is the megaphone by which those who are closed to the gospel and pre-biased against the message of Jesus can hear the truth.

What a privilege! Today we can proclaim the worthiness of God by work well done.