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Giving Your Best

By Debbie Wright | 16 June 2016

giving your bestWhat does ‘giving your best’ look like?

“I wanted to do the very best I could possibly do for her”. These were the words that rang home with me when a close friend described the last few years of her mother’s life before dementia engulfed her and finally took her life.

Servants, do what you’re told by your earthly masters. And don’t just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best. Colossians 3:22 MSG

The phrase ‘do your best’ is a minefield in oh so many ways. If we aim to do our best in all things and to all people we are instantly set to fail with corresponding despondency and exhaustion which leads us to tuck that particular thought away.  As a 9 year-old reluctantly practicing the piano, my Grandma reminded me that Jesus was sitting in the room listening and I should really try and do my best for him.  This picture of Jesus sitting in our living room, listening to every note I played, struck horror to my 9 year-old core and rather than encouraging me I felt I would rather not play the piano ever again!

The very best – do we set ourselves up to fail or jog along with mediocrity or is there a sane path somewhere in the middle?

Back to my friend looking after her mother.  As an only child, she had complete responsibility for the care and welfare of her mum and I am sure she did the very best she could for her, in her last remaining years.

Her ‘very best’ involved planning, forethought, time and sacrifice.  Our ‘very bests’ will be different for each of us and at different stages of our lives.  For instance, I don’t produce the very best meals I can for my family every single day of the week.  At weekends we feast more, but during the week we eat simpler fare that time allows.  At work I try and do my best in the time allotted for large projects, but it is in the smaller more nigglier things that I have changed my practice.

These people show honour to me with words, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is worthless Matthew 15:8-9

Since working for Stewardship (for 5 years now), spending time musing and thinking about what a generous life might look like, I now try to follow through what I say or loosely promise.  For instance, I’ll lend you that recommended book, let you have that recipe, send you the photos and  catch up soon. In fact what I am really saying is that I use my words wisely and try hard to follow through even with a light-hearted promise. This practice has helped my sanity, gives me a sense of order and I know friends, family and colleagues have appreciated the gesture.

But hang on, you might say, all this giving, doing, organising and planning sounds exhausting. And it is exhausting and self-destructive if we are trying to live up to other people’s expectations or to win approval from others.  Ultimately our ‘very best’ comes from what is in our heart.  God’s grace is freely given and there is nothing ultimately we can do, work for, or earn, to receive it. He gives, pours out, adorns us with his love.  But he also showers on us talents, abilities, imaginations, relationships, gifts we really enjoy and feel energised by.  By using our gifts and skills to glorify and worship God alone, God offers us fulfilment, joy and freedom.

As Eric Liddell, the Christian, gold-winning Olympic champion said: ‘I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.’

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Posted by Debbie Wright

Debbie Wright is Stewardship’s Head of Content and is passionate about generosity in all its guises. Besides occasional blogging and tweeting she creates resources and campaigns such as 40acts and Advent Wonder to inspire, engage and motivate the wider Christian community. Prior to joining, Debbie worked for A Rocha UK as editor of their national magazine and in a previous life worked as a TV producer/director for the BBC for 17 years.  Debbie is married to Graham; they have 4 daughters and a springer spaniel.  When not acting as taxi driver, she can be found on a salsa dance floor. Follow Debbie on Twitter @debwright99


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