February 14, 2019

In matters big and small

Do you see someone skilled in their work? They will serve before kings.
–Proverbs 22:29

With a brand new work permit in hand, I arrived for my first day of work at age 14. I had been hired by an older couple who lived a block from my school to “help out” around the house and to prune suckers on the tomatoes in their greenhouses. I was dismayed to discover that my first assignment was ironing a mountain of Mr. Peterson’s dress shirts. Having never mastered the art of ironing, I was mortified when Mrs. Peterson came in to check my work and asked me to start over. She patiently showed me how to begin with the collar and yoke, then move to the sleeves before ironing the front and back of the shirt.  

It was an embarrassing but helpful lesson in excellence.

The Statue of Liberty was dedicated in 1886, 17 years before the Wright brothers took their first flight. Yet if you see an aerial photograph showing the top of Lady Liberty’s head, you will notice that the artist went to painstaking effort to create detail in her hairstyle. The only beings that Frédéric Bartholdi could have possibly thought would see the hairdo were the seagulls flying overhead. But he valued excellence enough to finish the job beautifully. Now passengers in helicopters and airplanes see his work on a daily basis.

This day in February — Valentine’s Day — often turns our thoughts to how someone will show us love. Will there be flowers … chocolate … a sparkling gift? Perhaps our energy would be better spent by asking, “Do I love with excellence?” 

The way we demonstrate love to our families, those with whom we work, and those we serve and who serve us will make it clear whether or not we have grasped “the most excellent way” that Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians 12:31.

Do you value excellence? Are you honing your skills so you can offer the world your best? Are you committed to excellence, even when it may seem unimportant? 

I still find beauty in a freshly ironed shirt!

—Kathy McMillan is director of Employee Spiritual Care at Loma Linda University Medical Center.