GOOD ENOUGH? Excellence or mediocrity?

Good enough?

Good enough?

In his autobiography, Benjamin Franklin tells of a man who bought an axe from the local blacksmith.  The man wanted his new axe to be bright and shiny.

He wanted the whole blade to be as shiny as its cutting edge.  The blacksmith consented to do this for him, provided that he provide the man power to turn the wheel while he was grinding. It was a long, wearisome job.  The blacksmith paused to examine the progress, and the purchaser had a little relief from turning the wheel.

speckled axe

speckled axe

Then the smith said “Turn on; turn on. It is still speckled, but we will soon have it bright.”

“Yes,” agreed the exhausted buyer, “It is speckled, but I think I’ll be content with a speckled axe.”


How many times do we as Christians set about our ministry, wanting to see a ‘bright, shiny, axe’? 
We long for a bright, shiny experience, but do we stick at the task, even when it gets difficult or tedious, or the results we wanted are too slow coming?  Do we become satisfied with a mediocre or ‘speckled axe’ result?

What about our personal ‘quiet time’ with the Lord?
Did we once determine a regular reading system, maybe keeping a journal and having a set devotion time and look forward to that time as a ‘bright, shiny experience’?  Have we let things slip a little, becoming satisfied with less: with a ‘speckled axe’ time?

What about our resolve to speak to at least one person about the Lord each time we go to the shopping centre?
Now that is a very bright, shiny experience; but have we let it slip sometimes and failed to look for that lonely woman sitting on the bench, or that mother having trouble with a crying child?  (Or for workers, similar experiences at work or in the lunch break) Have we missed God’s opportunity to show His love to a needy person?

Sayings from Mr Anon:
I am going DOWNHILL
when I find my work is equal to my abilities.

Unless we attempt to do MORE than we CAN do,
we will NEVER do ALL we CAN do.

He who aims at EXCELLENCE will be above mediocrity:
he who aims at MEDIOCRITY will be far short of it.

NO disciple can be EXCUSED if he does not have ZEAL.
If a disciple’s heart is not aflame with a re-hot passion for the Saviour
and for His service, he is without excuse.

2 Timothy 2:15
Study to show yourself approved unto God,
a workman who needs not to be ashamed

1 Corinthians 15:58
Be steadfast, unmoveable,
always abounding in the work of the Lord,
forasmuch as you know,
your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

About meetingintheclouds

I am Cloudwatcher, a 76 year old Christian lady, happily married to a wonderful man for over 50 years. We have five wonderful sons, all with at least one University degree and in top positions in their chosen fields. One son is still single but four have found perfect wives and they have given us five lovely grandchildren. I was born in England and while I'm proud of my English heritage, I am doubly proud to be a true-blue, fair-dinkum Aussie. My husband and I are committed Christians whose first priority is to love and serve our risen Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. My life story will tell of my journey from abuse to peace. I suffered 22 years of abuse, being constantly told I was totally evil and an ugly freak: no one would ever want me, so I might as well do the world a favour and kill myself.
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21 Responses to GOOD ENOUGH? Excellence or mediocrity?

  1. granbee says:

    We Christians should never give up with polishing away all the blemishes that block the Light of Christ from shining brightly through to others.


  2. jelillie says:

    Oh my goodness! This hit me right between the eyes especially the quote from Mr. Anon! :)


    • I have conducted workshops on the Mediocrity/Excellence subject and used those quotes, which have often ‘hit the mark’ for people. I love being challenged to do things I “can’t” do – and see God at work, proving me wrong.

      I don’t think there is a person living who is doing all he/she COULD do. We are one day closer so we need to do all we can do while there is still time.

      We serve an amazing God!


  3. pbus1 says:

    Wonderful lesson, Angela! You are so right. It is time out for excuses, because our excuses have been nailed to the cross! Jesus Christ gave His all at Calvary, and He had me on His mind. Thank you so much for again reminding me that I must give my all to Him, because nothing else will do. “Lord, may I strive for mastery. Help me to press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus! Amen!” Thanks again, Angela! Your words have not fallen on fallow ground!


    • Thank you Paulette. You nailed it. We need to strive for mastery – His mastery – as we press on toward the prize. “Good enough” is NEVER good enough. We need to strive for excellence, and in His enabling, we can do it.

      We serve an amazing God!


  4. Ann says:

    Oh wow …Thank you, Angela

    Open my eyes, Lord. Open my eyes and give me the will, the boldness, the strength, and whatever else I need to make a difference for Your great name’s sake.

    Yes, Angela… He is truly an amazing God.

    thankful for His grace,


    • Amen Ann.
      May we see everything through HIS eyes and obey His will in His strength – “steadfast, unmovebale, always abounding in the work of the Lord” 1 Cor 15:58

      What a great privilege is given to us by our amazing God!


  5. ansuyo says:

    Good stuff. We don’t need to “settle” in Gods kingdom.


  6. Pingback: It’s the End of the World as We Know It | Resting in His Grace

  7. Ron says:

    Loved the story of Benjamin Franklin and the message in it .And it`s true we some times get put off, get diverted or even get tired,and say the speckled blade will do. Thanks for the reminder Angela ,it jogged me!



    • All my sons had written of every one of their school books:
      Good, better, best
      Never let it rest
      Until your good is better
      And your better is best.

      I think that is a good motto to have in EVERY area of our lives.


  8. timbob says:

    Good morning. Many truths are presented in this post, including the reminder that we must not allow ourselve to fall into a state of lukewarmness. It can creep in ever so subtly over time until one day we look back and……we aren’t where we used to be.” I’ve been there and it was a rough season. In his mercy, the Lord pulled me out of it several years ago.

    At the end of each day, we will have either drawn closer to Jesus or drifted away. (the drifting is usually so small that it goes unnoticed) This post admonishes us all to keep our hearts with all diligence and follow Jesus wholeheartedly.


    • Thanks for a great input in your comment Timbob.
      Your comments remind me of a saying, author unknown:
      “If you’ve ever been closer to the Lord than you are at this moment, you are a backslider”
      I’m not sure I entirely agree with it, as we do have “mountain top” experiences, but it is a good general rule.

      We serve an amazing God!


  9. Rob Barkman says:

    Angela, the verse that came to my mind when I read your posting… Luke 14:28 “For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have [sufficient] to finish [it]?”

    How important it is for all of us to understand the cost of our service to the Lord. How sad it is when a ministry fails because the one called by God does not consider the cost and adequately prepare for that ministry. Another great reminder for all of us.

    Lord bless you.


    • I thought of that verse too Rob.
      I know of a couple of people who DID count the cost, but as God blessed the ministry and it grew, they became burdened and became satisfied with a lower standard.

      I have never gone along with the idea of “burn out” in ministry. Although I know it DOES happen, I don’t believe it SHOULD happen because God always supplies all that is necessary when He gives us a ministry. I might be hard hearted, but I see the only valid reason for burn out is lack of faith or bad management (not delegating). I have presented workshops on ways to AVOID burn out.

      Now THAT is another topic – one that should suit you. How about it?


  10. Debbie says:

    Thank you, Mentor Angela, for another great analogy and post that causes us pause. I am thinking about how in my quiet time, how often I want to decide that it’s up, I only have a set amount of time and if I haven’t heard from Him by a certain time, well, He must not have had anything to say. But then, if I linger with Him, keep my speckled ax grinding, that shiny time comes and it doesn’t take that much longer . . .just a heart that is longing to stay and wait on Him.
    God bless you as you urge us on to all we can be in Him! Love and prayers!


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