Meditate on Philippians 1:9-11
It is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruits of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
Excellence has to do with love and righteousness more than technical prowess. This is the proposition that I explore in this meditation.
We can discern what is best only to the extent that we have deep knowledge of God’s ways. We can act righteously only to the extent that we follow the ways of Jesus. We must be centered on God, not anything else, to do what is good. These principles apply to Transformative Evaluation as well as any other vocational occupation.
In the business leadership literature there is much said about excellence that falsely claims scriptural authority for it. This is one passage that is cited. What does the passage mean?
William Barclay makes these points about this passage; I have elaborated them. For another perspective on excellence see Philippians 4:8-9.
- Love is always the way to knowledge. The prayer is that you will become more insightful and perceptive in your relationships with others so that you will not inadvertently injure them. As you learn more about them you will affirm all that is righteous in them in the eyes of Christ. Through their relationship with you they will learn more about what is right and what is wrong, and desire to do what is right.
For TE, relational love is a “methodology” that leads to deeper insight about program implementation and stakeholder perceptions about the merit and worth of the program.
- Love is sensitive to the mind and heart of the one loved. You seek to understand what the other desires, and to please them in your relationship with them. If I love Jesus, then I will seek to understand and do what Jesus desires.
In an evaluation exercise, seek to understand what program participants desire, and their perceptions of the program outcomes. How does an evaluator please people through his interactions with them? An evaluator that demonstrates willingness to listen and document accurately, and to submit conclusions to participants for critique may please them.
- A pure person is one who does not cause someone else to stumble or fall from righteous living. In our relationships with others we love them when we support them in following Jesus; their technical skill is irrelevant. Our focus should be on their life style more than their technical abilities. Our own “continuing education” should be focused on identifying our character flaws and overcoming them, so that we may be more helpful to others in building character. When others see us they should be attracted to Christianity, not repelled from it.
- The goal for living is to win praise and glory for God, not ourselves. Whatever excellence we may have should point others to the reality of the grace of God. To the extent that our behavior focuses attention on our qualities or the qualities of things that we produce, it is impure.
Christian love is not blind, despite what worldly wisdom says about the nature of love. Christian love overflows in knowledge and depth of insight. God wants us to love wisely in truth. Use your head and test your feelings; love is not sentimentalism.
Evangelist Selwyn Hughes develops the theme, “the pursuit of excellence,” in his reflections on Jeremiah. Excellence is defined as “doing the work of God faithfully, industriously, and without cutting corners.” Hughes does not include the concept of meeting high standards in this definition. The emphasis is on perseverance in all situations, finishing the race rather than winning it. An implication for TE is that the evaluator regularly reflects on the relationship between what has been done in the evaluation exercise, and what God is doing in the area where the exercise is taking place.
Every person is inadequate for the tasks that God asks. God works through us. Let feelings of inadequacy lead you to greater dependence on God. Excellence depends on our response to God’s ability as God works through us, not on our ability. May this meditation contribute to your professional journey.