In Search of Teaching Excellence

Ex”cel*lence\, n
The quality of being excellent; state of possessing good qualities in an eminent degree;
Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary

I remember a sports shoe commercial many years ago that featured Michael Jordan and Spike Lee. In the commercial Spike Lee was trying to determine what made Michael Jordan so good at the game of basketball. The key phrase used throughout the spot was “Is it the shoes?” While Michael simply answered “no” to the questions, the implication was that it was more than the shoes. Through closer investigation we learned that Michael Jordan worked tirelessly at his craft and that success was not instantaneous, but rather a process that he was dedicated to.

Similarly, when we see Sabbath School teachers that excel, we are tempted to ask in our own way, “is it the shoes?” Just what makes a person a teacher of excellence? Is it genetic? Is it the setting? Is it the topic? Or is it fate? Like Michael Jordan, teachers that excel share some of the same attributes.

Without exception, those who succeed in a particular field, whether sports, academics, professional or spiritually related all must begin at the same starting point. It is here that you can trace back the secrets of their success and it is here where many people falter.

The first step in the quest of excellence is to make the DECISION. Being able to make up one’s mind to commit to the goal and to pay the price to do it well, will separate those who excel from those who just maintain. The true force of the will has been described as “the governing power in the nature of man,–the power of decision, of choice. Everything depends on the right action of the will.” Ministry of Healing 174. The mark of a true decision will be indicated by what happens after the decision is made.

Michael Jordan’s decision to excel at his craft was indicated by his daily commitment to improve. Hours spent practicing, hours spent improving his physical strength, hours spent learning the nuances of the game from past legends and daily competitors all testified that he had made a true decision to be his best.

True success in any line of work is not the result of chance or accident or destiny. It is the outworking of God’s providences, the reward of faith and discretion, of virtue and perseverance. Fine mental qualities and a high moral tone are not the result of accident. God gives opportunities; success depends upon the use made of them. PK486

We as teachers have great opportunities but we must ask ourselves individually, “What am I doing with my opportunities?” Am I like Michael Jordan, putting in the appropriate time to improve my skills? Am I allowing God to direct me in avenues to increase my effectiveness? Am I putting in the effort to learn from others who can elevate my level of effectiveness or am I just maintaining from week to week?

There’s no better time than today to reevaluate if you have truly made a decision to be the best at what you do. Today is a new day of opportunities. What use will you make of them?