Excellence

As part of AmeriCorps NCCC, my team (Sun 7) headed down and arrived in Houston, TX just over a week ago.  We have been working with Houston Parks and Recreation, helping to clean up the city.  In doing so, we have been working in the medians, pruning trees, clearing out overgrown brush, and spreading mulch. 

It isn’t easy work.  Each day, I fear that a car will come hurdling down the road, hop the curb and take me out, from either direction.  We face thorns, poison ivy (which I have stayed far away from), and red fire ants, not to mention our own stupidity, the heat, and the drive to finish without stopping to take a break. 

The first couple days of work, we were enthusiastic and excited to finally be doing something, rather than sitting in a classroom listening to another lecture about safety, procedure, or life skills.  But after a couple of days of waking up before the sun rises, long hours of hard work, and working in the medians when we expected something more, exhaustion and frustration started to take its toll on our work. 

I’ll get it out of the way, I love my team.  We work together as a single unit (for the most part), rarely argue, and constantly love one another by making fun of everyone.  Even after a meer two weeks, we have become a family. 

When we got our project we were excited because we were told we were going to be doing trail work, invasive species removal, planting linear forests and helping out in parks.  So far the closest we have gotten is in the linear forest part, though we are not actually planing anything, just cutting stuff down and covering the ground with mulch.  We look like a bunch of convicts on the side of the road, just give our team leader a shotgun and everything will look perfect (we even have the 15 passenger van with government plates). 

To say the least, we are getting a little frustrated.  All of us are, and it is showing in our work and how we work.  In our actions and in our words.  We all joined NCCC to serve, though many didn’t expect that this was going to be how we serve our nation. 

Today was hard.  Part of it was the fact that it is a monday and we had the weekend off.  Part of it was the fact that we are frustrated.  Part of it was the fact that our expectations were too high to begin with. 

I was personally frustrated because I found myself cutting corners, not doing my very best.  I saw every one else doing it too, but it didn’t bother me nearly as much as when I saw it in my own work. 

In everything we do, we need to strive for excellence.  In our actions and in our words we need to be the best that we can possibly be.  We need to strive for perfection and reach excellence. 

In my last semester of painting, I  restarted my series of work with less than 5 weeks before having to hang my Senior Show.  Why, you may ask.  Because the work that I was doing was not up to my own personal standards.  I was not getting the excellent work that I expected out of myself. 

Photographers don’t just go out searching for a single image, but they strive to capture each and every single one to the degree of perfection.  A good photographer will try to take excellent pictures all the time.  That is what makes them different from any other shmuck with a camera. 

In our works, we need to strive for that same excellence.  Especially when we feel like the work we are doing will amount to nothing.  If you believe that, then that is the attitude that you will take when you work.  When asked to pick up trash, pick it up with a joy in your step.  When asked to prune trees down the middle of a busy road for as far as you can see, jump in and go at the trees with enthusiasm. 

As Christians, the work we do is for the glory of God.  Be it working in a church building, leading a community, teaching in a school, fixing things, or picking up trash. 

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.  It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

 – Colossians 3:23-24

God Bless and PEACE

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