However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Bondservants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a bondservant or is free. Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him. (Ephesians 5:33-6:9 ESV)
Rather than striving for “work-life balance”, how can we achieve whole-life excellence, doing everything we’ve committed ourselves to for the glory of God? That’s the question we will seek to answer over the next three weeks.
As I see it, the first step in the pursuit of whole-life excellence has to be defining standards of excellence for everything we’ve committed to in our lives. And setting those standards must begin with the Lord’s commands.
The Bible has a lot to say about what excellence looks like in our roles as mothers, fathers, employees, employers, friends, and citizens. Today’s passage is one of many great examples. In it, I am given clear instructions for how I am to love my wife (5:33), love my kids (6:4), and manage my team at work (6:9). If I am traveling too much for work, I may provoke anger and anxiety in my kids, and I obviously won’t be around enough to “bring them up in the…instruction of the Lord.” In this scenario, I would be violating the command of Ephesians 6:4 and I would not be glorifying God through my role as a father. This is just one example of how we can apply Scripture’s commands to our definitions of excellence for each role in our lives.
So, in order to define what whole-life excellence looks like, we must first start with what God’s Word commands of us for each of our roles. But it’s also important to understand what excellence means to those we are called to serve in each sphere of life. At work, if we are to do our jobs with excellence, it is critical that we understand how our bosses define excellence for our roles. Similarly, as a husband I am called to “love [my] wife, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25). This requires that I submit myself to my wife’s standards of what it looks like to be an excellent husband.
It is only after we look to God’s Word and those we serve to define standards of excellence for each of our roles that we would be wise to apply our own standards of excellence to each area of our lives.
Once we have defined what whole-life excellence looks like for us, how do we design a life that enables us to pursue “excellence in all things and all things to God’s glory”? That’s the question we will turn to next week.