The Need for Excellence
This third installment of our Ministry Distinctives series is written by Class Director August Huckabee. August is a former TeenPact intern who spends multiple weeks each spring working with staff teams around the country. When he isn’t class directing, August serves as the Resident and Administrative Director at Worldview at the Abbey – a bridge year program for high school graduates. Here, he writes about excellence and its immense importance to the vision and mission of TeenPact
At TeenPact, excellence is a core distinctive of the organization, and it is a tragedy that it has to even be stated as such, because it should be a distinctive of Christianity as a whole.
When we become Christians, we are given a new identity in Christ. Scripture literally says “the old has gone, the new has come…” (2 Corinthians 5:17). With this new identity at the time of salvation, our sanctification begins. Christians grow in sanctification by adopting the standards that Christ sets up in scripture as the right standards to live by, and consequently seeking to apply those standards to everyday life. Sanctification doesn’t happen all at once, but it is a lifelong process as one is “…transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2)
Some of these transformations are very black and white, and new Christians have a straightforward (though not always easy) time implementing new practices that align with scripture. Sins such as promiscuity, drunkenness, and anger are all very clearly condemned and thus easy to target as places for life change in the sanctification process.
But there are other things that are more difficult because scripture doesn’t expressly mention them: What is the biblical way to approach finding a spouse? Are there types of music that Christians aren’t allowed to listen to? How does a Christian choose what college to attend? Within the Christian community there are many perspectives on the answers to these questions, and there is a temptation to say that because a topic isn’t mentioned in scripture, then God doesn’t have anything to say about it.
However, we believe that Christianity provides us with a holistic Christian worldview. This means that Christianity and the Bible have something to say about every aspect of our lives, and even if something isn’t mentioned expressly, we can know how we should act by looking at the principles of scripture and the character of God.
One of the definitions of reconciliation is to bring things into alignment, or harmony, and the Bible says that as believers, God has given us the ministry of “…reconciling the world to himself…” (2 Cor 5:18-19) Not just our spiritual lives, not just our churches, but the world – and consequently every single thing in the world. The way we work, the way we think about tax law, the way we conjugate Spanish verbs. All things.
If we believe that a Christian worldview has something to say about every aspect of reality, then a question we must constantly be asking is, “If this can be redeemed, then how can it be done?” Admittedly, there are many things in the world that would seem to have no “spiritual” significance – but does that mean that they can’t be done in such a way as to glorify God? With a holistic Christian worldview, the answer is always no.
One mode of thinking on this is that we need to seek to put a Christian label on everything that we touch, and therefore make it God-glorifying. But if we put the phrase “Jesus is Lord” in a song but the song is not sung nor orchestrated well, it is really God-glorifying?
Dorothy Sayers, in an essay on vocation, says it this way:
“The Church’s approach to an intelligent carpenter is usually confined to exhorting him not to be drunk and disorderly…and to come to church on Sundays.
What the church should be telling him is this: that the very first demand that his religion makes upon him is that he should make good tables… Church by all means, and decent forms of amusement, certainly – but what use is all that if in the very center of his life and occupation he is insulting God with bad carpentry?”
Our philosophy of work is connected to and informed by our faith in that, as Christ’s ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20), the quality of our work is a reflection on our understanding of our new identity given to us by Christ. Excellence is pursued in order to “…live a life worthy of calling you have received.” (Ephesians 4:1)
The mission of TeenPact is to “…train youth to understand the political process, value their liberty, defend the Christian faith, and engage the culture…” Part of that vision is seeking to instill an understanding of excellence in student’s lives that will be lived out because of the principles of scripture rather than the shallow pragmatism of worldly philosophy.
It has become part of the culture of TeenPact to treat others, execute the program, think, love, and ultimately live in excellence. This isn’t because of mere tradition or hope for advancement (which are shallow in their end), but instead because the leadership and administration have had a heart for this very thing: the redemption and reconciliation of all things for the glory and honor of Christ.
To learn more about Worldview at the Abbey, click here or send August an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.