Strive for excellence


“Excellence is not a function of circumstances. Excellence, it seems, is largely a matter of conscious choice.” – Jim Collins

It really goes without saying that when you work in faith according to your vocation, that your work and you as a person must also be excellent. But here in the Solidarity Movement we talk daily about the value of excellence. We hold open conversations, do research, and read bookshelves full of books on how to be our best, excellent selves within the calling-driven work we undertake every day.

At Solidarity Helping Hand, we have seen many times how excellent work can change the world, how excellent thinking, initiatives, programs and projects can alleviate, break and prevent poverty. We also realize that we will never really be able to achieve full excellence, but that the pursuit of it is actually where the key lies.

We always like to refer back to Jim Collins’ book Good to Great and learn a lot from the knowledge-filled chapters on how to strive not only to be good, but truly excellent. It is always beautiful to me how I can look up to our leaders within the Solidarity Movement and see and experience how they really strive to always be at the forefront – to always do the best for our people. Within each institution’s raison d’être, the word excellence is self-evident. That is also why it is one of Solidarity Helping Hand’s five core values ​​that we have identified for our theme of 2024, #waardeswatwerk.

Of course one gets Christian values ​​and worldly values. When we look at the Christian meaning of excellence we see “I do my work with excellence, because I work out of vocation and gratitude”. When we look at the worldly meaning of excellence we see “I can deceive people to get to the top, because power and prestige is a sign of excellence”. We must always be able to clearly identify what it is that God expects from us and what it is that the world wants to steal from us.

Excellence lies in work ethic. The principles, standards and code of conduct expected of employees in the workplace. It lies between the principles of professional conduct, integrity, confidentiality, working hours and efficiency, cooperation, personal appearance and respect for the environment and resources.

When I think about how I can pursue excellence, I always say to myself:

  • What’s the one thing I don’t fancy? Do it!
  • I can’t be the best but choose to ignore certain tasks or people. Focus on it!
  • What is the one thing that stops me from being the best? Get over it!
  • Do I have everything to be the best in my position for Solidarity Helping Hand? Master it!

I always explain to my team, knowing yourself and knowing what your strengths and weaknesses are is the first step towards the pursuit of excellence.

Why do we want to offer excellent work? Because our children, persons with disabilities and elderly persons deserve it. The people whose voices cannot be heard deserve to have excellent people who can speak on their behalf, act and help them. When we undertake a project – whether it is through training or by helping a hungry child – it must be done out of vocation, in faith and with excellence. Every person we serve deserves to be treated with excellence.

It is also something that one has to live at home. I have to pursue it when I help my little daughter with her homework, when I prepare food for my family or when I talk to my loved ones. My husband always tells me he can taste when my food is prepared with love. Let me be honest, after a long day of work and running around with school activities, I don’t really feel like preparing food with love and excellence. I am also not the best cook at all, but I hear what he says and then do it in love. Apparently the food tastes better then.

God’s character trait of creative excellence emerges clearly for us in the Bible and in creation. When I look at how He created my daughter, I see excellence. When I lie on my back in our backyard and look at the clouds, I see excellence. When I find rest in His green pastures I think of excellence. When I dream about eternal life, I dream about how great it will be.

“Because you are children of God and He loves you, you must follow his example.” – Ephesians 5:1.

Have we not therefore also been instructed to pursue excellence?

“Then this Daniel prevailed over the ministers and the governors, because an excellent spirit was in him; therefore the king intended to appoint him over the whole kingdom.” — Daniel 6:4.

Joyce Meyer also refers to Daniel ‘s excellence: “Daniel is a man in the Bible who is described as someone who had an ‘excellent spirit’. He lived to honor God in his life, no matter what it would cost him”.

At a time like this, in this election year, one cannot help but wonder if the various parties also really strive for this value. When you sit still you wonder, there can’t possibly be excellence in street lights that don’t work, in high unemployment and murder rates and not at all in the neglect of our children.

My wish is not only that we as staff at Solidarity Helping Hand pursue the value of excellence on a daily basis, but that every citizen and the government will also start to do so.

I see before me a South Africa that is filled with people like Daniel, who live determinedly for what is right, who will go to the lion’s den with the pursuit of excellence.