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Starweek Magazine

A commitment to excellence

GUIDELINES FOR FINDING YOUR WAY - Dr. Harold J. Sala -
"Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom." - Ecclesiastes 9:10

William Wadsworth Longfellow once wrote, "Lives of great men all remind us/We can make our lives sublime,/And, departing, leave behind us/Footprints on the sands of time." Today, however, most of us are not interested in leaving footprints on the sands of time, not even minuscule tracks. We want the shortcut, the easy, non-demanding job, and the fastest, quickest way to success, which demands the least effort.

Gone
is the commitment to excellence. In is the commitment to mediocrity. Ask any high school guidance counselor how many students he or she knows who have brains but will not use them. Ask how many could do outstanding work, but fearing the comments of their peers, they slouch down to C level work.

I’ve been thinking about the contribution of Jerome, a scholar who lived for thirty years in obscurity in the city of Bethlehem but gave to the world the text of the Latin Vulgate that became the standard of the Christian world for a thousand years. At Christmas I listened to the strains of George Frederic Handel’s "Messiah" and asked myself, "Will there ever be another piece of music so great?"

Will we ever see another Beethoven, or Bach, or Tchaikovsky?

I’ve walked through art galleries and marveled at works of the masters and asked, "Will the world ever again see masterpieces which will rival these or even come close to them?" What motivated the artists, the authors, and the scholars of the past? Certainly not fame or fortune, because many, if not most of them, struggled with poverty, surviving on a few crumbs of support from the crown or a wealthy patron. For every name that has survived, thousands of scholars, great artists, and musicians lived in anonymity and obscurity. Their names never made even the dictionary’s short biographical data section.

My hypothesis is that they were compelled to excellence by the thinking that God requires our best and to do less than your best is not only a sin against God but also a shame to your family and your father’s name. Paul put it this way: "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men" (Colossians 3:23).

Okay, here we are in the 21st century, an age of satellite communication and other technology that we hitherto had not thought possible. Where do we go from here? Let’s make the question personal. Where are you headed? Are you content with getting by, or are you determined to do your best, whether you drive a bus, head a corporation, teach in a school, or dig weeds and cut lawns?

Longfellow concluded his "A Psalm of Life" saying, "Let us, then, be up and doing/With a heart for any fate;/Still achieving, still pursuing,/learn to labor and to wait." Not bad advice for today. Unless you do your best, you will never know what you might have accomplished, what you might have done. - Resource reading: Colossians 3
* * *
Guidelines for Finding Your Way is available in bookstores nationwide. For more information, write to Guidelines Philippines, Box 4000, 1284 Makati City or e-mail [email protected]. Visit our website www.guidelines.org.

A PSALM OF LIFE

AT CHRISTMAS I

FINDING YOUR WAY

GEORGE FREDERIC HANDEL

GUIDELINES

GUIDELINES PHILIPPINES

JEROME

LATIN VULGATE

MAKATI CITY

WILLIAM WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW

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