Don't Cheat Yourself, pt. I
Excellence  (noun)  The quality of being outstanding or extremely good. 

Excellence (noun) The quality of being outstanding or extremely good. 

For the last few days I’ve been having a very specific conversation with God about why certain goals of mine have not yet been achieved. It’s safe to say that I have not been content with who I am as a woman of God, including what I do and how I do it. I’ve been feeling like a failure. Have I made attempts to be the best version of myself? Sure. Have my intentions been good?  Yes. However, where’s the fruits of my labor? I wondered. I had to realize, or should I say, admit that there hasn’t been any fruit (good fruit) because my laboring has been lackluster.

There has not been [REAL] follow through or effort on my part to overcome the difficulties. The things that I beat myself up about daily is not being manhandled and destroyed; they aren’t being conquered as they should be. I have been giving into mediocrity because it’s easy. That mindset has allowed me to make excuses. It has allowed me to say, “Okay, tomorrow, for real, I’ll start over and re-commit.” However, it is that kind of nonchalant, passionless pledge to future greatness—based on what I say I’ll do tomorrow (the unforeseen)—that has revealed a lack of discipline, steadfastness, and faithfulness to what and who God has called me to be.

I say I’m ready to move on from my current position in the work sector; but have I taken advantage of every opportunity given to me to learn all that I can—to be as knowledgeable as possible in my industry? I can’t say I have. I have not consistently made the effort to seize every opportunity. There’s been times where I went to work lazy, mentally checked out before I even physically checked in. Have I done just what was expected of me and no more? A time or two, yes—yes, I have.

I say I’ve been ready for marriage. I just knew that I would and should have been married years ago lol—the plan was 21. However, God has obviously been laughing at me with every passing year, but I digress. Lately, have I been preparing? Not like I should. Could I be more diligent in my preparation for all the responsibilities of a Proverbs 31 woman? Yes.

I say that I’m looking to go to a new level, spiritually—to be taken to new heights, to be of even greater use to God and those around me. So, could I spend more time reading His word? Again, yes.

I say that I want to achieve my fitness goals. Then why plan a cheat meal into my diet at all? My body should be cared for and loved 100 percent of the time. Nothing I consume should be bad for my body. The same goes for my spiritual being. A minute of worldly garbage entertained is a minute too long.

Now, there will be people who are going to read this and think I’m being too hard on myself. I’ve shared some of my daily journey, and people see my commitment to Christ, work, the gym, and so on. However, good or even great, is not good enough. The question is, am I working to my standard of excellence in Christ—to the level of excellence that I, myself, and the Lord knows lies within me? No, no, and no—I am not.

Too often we trivialize what appears to be small by society’s standards. We must stop this. When you are living for Christ and doing everything unto the Lord, nothing in your life should be treated carelessly—not your health, not your well-being, not your finances. Your growth spiritually, emotionally, physically, and mentally are all significant and should be treated as such at all times. You see, growth comes when barriers are broken down; when tests are passed; when we endure and prevail; when we are given reason to quit or say, “Maybe tomorrow,” but instead, we say, “No, today, right now.”  

God has been asking me—heck, at this point he’s probably hitting me in the head right now—asking me to do more than just show up. He’s asking me to show up and show out every day, 24 hours a day.; not just on Sundays; not just during the days the world says I should grind, (i.e. Monday through Friday); not only in the mornings when I feel good and determined and my body is shooting off endorphins after a workout; not just when there’s someone watching; not just when love is on the horizon; not just after an easy day at work. As long as there is breath in my body, there is a living purpose inside of me, and there is no room for mediocrity when there is work to be done.

Listen, I’m talking excellence y’all—excellence! God wants me to stop cheating. He wants me to get rid of that cheating mindset—to stop cheating myself, cheating Him, and cheating my purpose and passion in this time of life he so generously gave. Walking around with the mindset of—well, I’m going to be good today, so I can cheat tomorrow is dangerous. It’s how and why people become stagnant. It gives Satan a foothold to rob that one moment while your defenses are down—attempting to destroy you. Excellence is what we should celebrate. To cheat is nothing but a distraction—choosing to lose focus, to disregard what you know to be true, right, productive, positive, and good, so that you can indulge in quick, fleshly satisfaction, will only give glory to Satan.

We have to be wise enough to recognize that success is found in the Lord and there should be no excuses. We have to be wise enough to see that failure begins with distraction—it is where it takes root. So, let’s put an end to falling victim to pointless distractions. Don’t use “down time” or the need for rest as a poor excuse to escape responsibilities, self-control, discipline, and most importantly, God. Don’t allow your reward for good behavior to be a moment of bad behavior. Don’t cheat yourself. Do all things unto the Lord and do it with excellence.

Now, in no way am I saying getting sleep or resting is wrong, nor am I saying that you will never fall down, but understand, falling down and failing are not one-in-the-same. We fall down due to ignorance, distraction, unawareness, but failure—failure is a choice made in the light of day. It is choosing to not truly begin. It is what happens when we continuously choose to let distraction lead us. Failure is choosing to not commit to something bigger than the natural eye can see. Failure is choosing to stay sleep too long when God has told you to get up and get to it.

With that, I leave you today with the following:

Don’t delay your greatness. Don’t neglect your passion. Don’t set down your passion. Don’t be mediocre in a world that encourages mediocrity, but then blames you and looks down on you for not having it all and being all.

I can’t speak for you, but what I will say is this: if you have cheated yourself, God, or your purpose and passion (and only you and God knows what area of your life you have cheated)—correct it today. Make a change. Break the cycle of bad habits resurfacing and be better, do better, choose better.

Simply, don’t cheat, be excellent!