ry Emerick – Mesa Campus Pastor
I recently read a story about an interview that Jimmy Carter once had with Admiral Hyman Rickover, the long time head of the United States Nuclear Navy. Carter was interviewing to be a submarine captain and every candidate had to interview with Rickover in order to become a captain. At the end of the interview, Rickover asked Carter how he did at the naval Academy. Carter proudly stated he finished 59 out of 820, fully expecting Rickover to be impressed with Carter’s achievement. Instead, Rickover asked him one simple question…”Did you do your best?” Carter’s initial response was “Yes, sir!” but the more he thought about it, he realized that he could have done better, and so reluctantly he changed his response and said, “no sir, I didn’t always do my best.” Rickover’s final question, after he turned his chair around to end the interview was, “why not?”
I have been reflecting on that story for some time, and wrestling with the question, do I give my best? Do I give my best effort, my best creativity, my best thought, my best attitude, my best focus to those things that I have been entrusted with? As much as I would like to say yes, the truth is that often I do not. I am guilty at times of selfishly giving my second best…even my third or fourth best to some of the things I am charged with. Sometime I find myself giving my best to the things that don’t really matter. As a husband, dad, follower, pastor…in each area of my life, it is a constant battle to die to myself, and to give my best effort to those things that will last.
It easy to give myself a pass too, and say “no one gives their best all the time…just keep trying.” And I would agree, but the reality is this…God gave his very best for me, and for you. His best being himself, incarnated in the person of Jesus Christ, who gave up everything to take the form of a servant, paying the price for all sin, mine and yours, on the cross. And he did it perfectly…no sin was left unpaid. In addition, he offers us his best, in the form of his Spirit, given to us as a guide, comforter, and empower to do the things he has called us to do. And against all of that, he calls us to be our best, following his example.
Colossians 3:17 encourages us with these words:
And whatever you do, whether in word or in deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Whatever you do, do it in the name of Jesus. And when we do things fully in the name of Jesus, we can’t help but to give it our best. To love our spouses in the name of Jesus. To love our children in the name of Jesus. To love others in the name of Jesus. To serve in the name of Jesus. To do anything other than our best in the name of Jesus, misses the mark of what he has called us to, and dishonors those who went before us. Consider these words:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
– Hebrews 12:1-3
Today, and every day, give your best.