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Progress not Perfection…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from Paul’s letter to Philippians 3: 12-14

“I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.”


I have this note attached to a binder that sits on my desk. I got it from our discipleship pastor almost a year ago. As he handed it to me, he said “Anne, I want you to have this because I think that you need this message.” Since then, I’ve heard him say the words many times and I have gotten to where I intentionally listen for them. I seem to need that regular reminder of Jesus’ goal for me, and both Pauls (the apostle Paul and pastor Paul) do an awesome job of delivering 🙂 I am my own worst critic. As such, I sometimes fall into the trap of not moving forward because my own high standards leave me fearful that I will make a mistake. In those moments, I mistakenly get hung up on my own “earthly performance” rather than forgiving myself in order to “press on” in love with my eyes on Jesus.

As a swimming and cross country coach, the phrase “perfect practice makes perfect performance” seems to pop out of my mouth with regularity. I say it because of it’s reminder of how important it is that we bring our very best try to each opportunity that God places before us. Whether that is improving technique on the butterfly stroke in the pool, hitting splits on the cross country course, or simply being a good teammate, I know that a heart full of try is what leads to progress. This same principle applies to our faith journey. We don’t actually achieve perfection in our earthly life, but intentionally focusing to press on to make progress enables us to grow.

My goal as an athletic coach is to encourage – to give courage to my athletes – so that they continually grow and improve. I know that perfection is outside of their potential, but I ask them to work hard in order to progress and be the best that they can be. The more I think about it, the more I realize that Jesus holds that same goal for me as a Christian and as a disciple.


When progress is the goal, forgiveness plays a key role. The apostle Paul reminds us in his letter to the Philippians that he focuses on forgetting the past to look forward to what lies ahead. If we get bogged down in our mistakes, or if being concerned with being perfect in our earthly life leaves us cautious and unconfident, then we are unable to fully answer God’s call to disciple. Focusing on our mistakes distracts us and keeps us from truly being aware of God’s purpose for our lives. Jesus forgives us, so we must also forgive – both ourselves and others. The expectation is that we give our hearts, our try, in order to press on in faith toward the heavenly prize.

God uses faith to bring us courage. He uses truth to guide us. He uses grace to steadfastly pursue us and grow us. Our job is to show up – to be aware of who God brings into our lives – and to live in loving relationship as we travel the journey. A good disciple is FAT: faithful, available and teachable. A good disciple is not perfect. That’s Jesus’ job, and He leads us toward perfection when we offer our hearts and our effort 🙂

 

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Perfect Practice Makes Perfect Performance…

Our swim team t-shirts this season carried one of my very favorite quotes.

She smiled for the picture, but often when I mention this phrase she seems tempted to roll her eyes...

She smiled for the picture, but often when I mention this phrase she appears tempted to roll her eyes…

I not only enjoy telling my swimmers that Perfect Practice Makes Perfect Performance, I live out the words in my own life.  I am blessed to have a feed yard crew that also is devoted to striving for excellence.  Each of us believes that taking pride in our work and focusing on all of the little things that ensure good care for our animals is an essential part of our every day lives.

This commitment to detail and devotion to good care makes my affiliation with Progressive Beef a great partnership.  Progressive Beef is all about Perfect Practice Making Perfect Performance.  The program combines the core values of sustainability, humane animal care, and food safety with daily care practices which ensure success.

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A couple of weeks ago, I had my second audit for the program (I will have three per year).  An auditor from a third party firm called IMI Global traveled to the feed yard to spend most of the day with us.  He checked our records, watched us work cattle, evaluated our daily cattle care (cattle living conditions), and assessed our feed mill and feed delivery system.

Auditing our cattle handling skills while vaccinating some newly arrived yearling heifers...

Auditing our cattle handling skills while we worked some newly arrived yearling heifers…

The audit was very organized and thorough.  Despite this, and despite our preparation and dedication to detail, having an auditor at the feed yard was still a little bit unnerving.  The bottom line is that it is hard to have someone pick through your life and judge your performance.

Looking at our feed delivery records with my foreman...

Looking at our feed delivery records…

To say that I am proud of my crew’s performance would be an understatement.  We rocked the audit scoring 228.5 out of a possible 228.5 possible points.  I set the bar high and our team delivered perfection.  Despite the fact that I get to spend each day watching our animals thrive and make safe and healthy beef, it is still a thrill to get such an awesome report card.

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Responsible animal care not only matters to you, it matters to me…

In the words of Abraham Lincoln, “I do the very best I know how, the very best I can, and I mean to keep on doing so until the end.”

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