About the Author

Sarah Mae has a past that would be her present if it weren’t for Jesus. A blogger, author, and co-author of Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe, she’s currently writing The Complicated Heart, a book for broken-hearted lovers of Jesus. Learn more at @thecomplicatedheart on Instagram or...

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  1. Sarah Mae,
    I’m in too…commit to excellence in what God gives us to do! What would our marriages and our families be like if we tried to “out love” one another?! You drew a great distinction between perfection and excellence. Thanks for a motivational and encouraging post!
    Blessings,
    Bev

  2. Thank you for this uplifting post. Commitment to excellence in what we do – never depends on what the other person does or says. like Bev says “let’s out love one another”!
    Blessings
    Shantha Rebekah

  3. What a wise man. I think that seeking excellence is also freeing in a way- when you’re seeking excellence there will be days of great progress and days of none, but allows you to think of the whole process instead of each day on its own pass/fail system. Taking it as a whole, and seeking excellence overall is how I think this can be most effective.

  4. Such beautiful words of wisdom to start out the day! We do often confuse excellence with perfection – that striving for better somehow speaks to our worth, or lack thereof. And, as women, we are so vulnerable to that comparison trap, aren’t we?!

    • Um, a big, fat, yes! But I say, down with perfection (except the perfection that Heaven has imparted into us) and up with excellence – giving ourselves to pursue the good!

  5. Thank you! All to often I am an ‘all or nothing’ personality. Excellence should be my goal in everything.

  6. I totally agree! My husband used to ask my why I wanted to read books about marriage or motherhood – to why I’d reply that we spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on college to learn how to be good at something for a career, why don’t we put even close to that much effort into the most important pieces of our life.

    • Great question…I think we fear excellence for fear of failure, or of just life being hard/not what we expected. Excellence requires a great deal of thankfulness, time, care, and faith.

  7. Count me in! I want to put forth my very best efforts in the places that are the most important: home, family and church. Thank you for the distinction between perfect and excellent, complete vs. process!

  8. Such truth here! God has an amazing way of using the last person we’d think of to deliver powerful messages when we need them! Love this, Sarah! Your convicted heart is a blessing and an inspiration to all of us reading!

  9. The timing of this couldn’t be better. Our church is sponsoring a marriage seminar in 10 days, and we are encouraging as many married couples to attend as will listen. Our marriage is the foundation of our family which builds the Church which establishes the Kingdom of God. Our marriages are so important, and also so neglected. We need to do what it takes to be excellent in this one thing first and foremost. Thank you so much for the encouragement!

  10. Such a wonderful post. I wish churches around the nation would teach something like this. My marriage could use help in this area. I am completely commited to excellence in my marriage but it has taken a long time for me to get there, not that I wasn’t commited to my marriage, I just hadn’t thought about it that way. A while back I read the book Beyond Ordianary by Trisha and Justin Davis and that change the way I think about my marriage. I am on the tail end of dealing with my husband’s infidelity (which has gone on for more than half of the years we have been married). Coincidentaly, it was my husbands infidelity that led me to Jesus.

    • Wow.

      Also, my husband read *most* of Beyond Ordinary and it has really helped our marriage, even there has been no infidelity.

      Oh friend, so glad you know the One who can restore anything, even painful marriages. How are you? How are things?

      • I wish I could get my husband to read it. I’m thinking it’s not too likely though. I could barely get him to read some of The Love Dare that I did for him. Right now I am ok, I have good days and bad days. I am currently working on finding peace within myself. It’s really hard. My husband has done so many things with so many women that lots of stuff triggers my remembering. I honestly wish I could just have “affair amnesia” and not remember all the things I know he did. The good thing is whenever I remember I just pray, and repeat Jesus’ name. He comes in and takes the memory away for a while and I can function pretty well. At this point I think things are ok. I haven’t been “snooping” into hubby’s stuff for a while but I also don’t have the feeling that he is up to something. Thanks for asking!

  11. All in on the excellence front myself! But if I’m being honest…you know where I get tripped up? When pursuing excellence, how do you not slip into the “I’m gonna try real, real hard at this” and use your own strength instead of resting in the grace and peace and joy of Christ?

    I’ve spent most of 2013 exploring freedom in Christ, and recently I’ve been exploring this pursuit of excellence, but I’m having trouble marrying the two. I know they aren’t opposite, but to me they seem like two sides of a coin right now….

    Thoughts?

    • I can so relate to what you say here.

      This is what I am finding this month, on wedding the two sides of the coin: I seek to looking at every moment, every situation, every conversation as an opportunity rather than an obligation. Each one is a chance to try something new, to try something bold, to see if something I’ve learned from God, or from my book on being assertive, or from what my friend told me about what forges real connection will actually work.

      If I fail… I try to let it go. I try to acknowledge my limits, and work within them (I’m sure I’ll need to push my comfort zone again someday, but right now it’s about finding and loving those limits). And remind myself that what I just did or didn’t do puts no restraint on what I can try next time.

      I think excellence might be looking for opportunities to try new things, to break out of old habits, rather than “try” to live up to what someone else might see as “perfect” or even “excellent.”

      Eee, I love (in)courage–the above post, and your comment, crystallized into knowledge things I’ve been looking at all year. 🙂

    • Sarah – oh it is a daily struggle, isn’t it? We strive for excellence, and we will fail. We’re human. We have limitations. When that happens, and it will, I think we take those moments — you know the ones, when we yell more than we wanted to, when we lose our cool, when we freak out over the little things — in those moments we say “Christ, I’ve failed! Forgive me! Help me do better next time!” When we acknowledge our weakness, He gives us His strength. Time and time again. I see excellence not as a destination to arrive at, but as a journey to travel. On this journey of excellence we keep our eye on the One who promises all, we keep our eye fixed on what He asks of us, knowing full well that we will stumble and there is no way for us to achieve those on our own, trusting in Him when He tells us He forgives when we screw up. 🙂

      Love to you today!!!

      • I’m so glad it IS a journey… and that not all failures are sin. Just because we expect something of ourselves or other Christians expect it of us does not always mean that God does. When we sin, we can be forgiven; and when we fail, we can receive grace to know that our attempt was good, and we ourselves are not failures.

    • Really great question, and one that was on my mind as I typed out the words to this post.

      I’m landed here: If I want to be a speaker, I’m going to read books on speaking, learn the art, watch videos of good speakers, practice (tons), and start with small gigs and work my way up. I take the time to cultivate the skill. But at the end of the day, I rely on the grace offered me, and walk in faith that perhaps what I’m supposed to be doing is the very thing I’m trying to become excellent in. Make sense?

      For me, it is not speaking (although I’d like to become a good speaker), it’s my marriage and raising my babes. So I’ll learn, and practice, and fail, and succeed, and lean into the grace offered me; I will lean into what I’m created to do, and so I will do it with the excellence given to me to complete the task.

      • Excellent, Miss Sarah Mae. Thank you for taking the time to answer my question. It’s truly been a struggle for me over the past several weeks. I want to do everything well, but I get exhausted and burnt out…then I want to hid under my bed for a week.

        I have to remember that I’m called to surrender and reliance on the Lord, not on myself. Then I’ll be able to give him the glory when I actually do get it right.

        Thanks again…

  12. Sarah Mae, this is right on the money! As a society I think many of us have decided to simply settle for what I call ‘the land of good enough’. We set the bar low for our own lives, our marriages and our children. We have forgotten to dream! Mainly because dreaming is hard, especially when you realize what the dream will cost you. To bring any God sized dream to pass will require excellence, diligence, patience and passion. It will tax you (and test you) to the moon and back!
    God is a big believer in diligence & excellence and does nothing half way.
    I’m passionate about encouragingexcellence in all we do, after all we are doing it ‘unto the Lord’ and He deserves our best….every day.
    Perfection is a trap easy to fall into and I’m so glad you articulated the difference. We can never achieve perfection in this life but we can pursue an excellent life. Every single day! I’m with you…’going for great!’ Blessings!

    • Love how you put this: “To bring any God sized dream to pass will require excellence, diligence, patience and passion. It will tax you (and test you) to the moon and back!”

  13. Sarah Mae, I love this. I rarely read blogs, any blogs, but especially parenting blogs. Why? Because I feel like most blog encouragement consists of applauding the sub par mentality. I strive for more than sub par. I want to be excellent, I fail, I fall on my face, but I try all over again the next day… I don’t want someone to tell me it’s no big deal, stop striving for great, good is good enough.
    This was refreshing, thanks!
    Wishing you excellence in His name,
    Candy

  14. I need to remind myself of this everyday. I struggle with perfectionism- meeting up to unrealistic standards of being a perfect wife and mom. It doesn’t exist. But you have cleary shown me that I can pursue excellence. Yes! New goal for me!!! Thank you so much for this!!!!! This is absolutely perfect… No. It’s excellent!

  15. I’m in! The timing of this is perfect! I’m currently doing a Bible study on living out Titus 2:3-5 and the Proverbs 31 woman, and the Lord is showing me so many areas where I need to “step it up.” As you said, I will choose to commit myself to what is right before me, in my home – becoming an excellent wife and mother. Not perfect, but excellent (thank you for drawing that distinction!).

  16. Excellence intimidates me, or it has, because of the idea in my head that it equals perfection. So, thanks for that clarification. Excellence takes a lot of effort, but it’s worth it, right?

  17. This world of ours is filled with mediocrity–especially in marriages. Far to often people just give up on marriages when something goes wrong or they have 1 fight.

    God has been whispering “those who do well in small things will be given more”. Daily I strive for excellence in all that I do. As for my marriage I strive constantly to show my love to my hubby and let him know that after God he’s the most important person to me.

  18. I love this post and I know my Father wanted me to see it! Several months ago my running got sidelined with an injury. Around the same time, I found out that my 13 year old daughter has started cutting herself (some childhood trauma had resurfaced and she was not talking to me about it). I started reading The Resolution for Women and felt God calling me to be more intentional at home. I quit my Masters of Nursing program halfway through and I have not gone back to running. I realized that these goals, having my MSN & running a half marathon, were not where my focus should be and they were keeping me from excellence with my most important roles in this season of my life, wife and mother. But just yesterday, on my way to work, I was talking to myself (out loud, alone, in my car, hahaha) and wondering about when or if I would be able to pick up on some of MY dreams again. I keep being gently reminded that this season is for my family and I am seeing my service to them through God colored glasses, thank you! Excellence, yes!!!

    • Amber,

      Your post touched my heart. There is no doubt that your daughter appreciates deeply your shift in focus….prayers for her and you and may God continue to bless and keep you both in this season.

      Love & Blessings,
      Brandi

  19. Sarah Mae,

    The difference between perfectionism and excellence is very striking! Excellence is attainable, whereas perfectionism is daunting and seemingly far reached! Thank you, I am on that journey as well to hopefully set out to the work of excellence in marriage and parenting…I could be better at both and thus I am pursing it! Thank you for this lovely encouragent, and may God bless and provide you with all of the strength and ability to attain it!

    Love & Blessings,
    Brandi

  20. I have recently had some health issues and I am not as I once was. I am not sure that I will ever be that person again. I am struggling with my new reality of who I am now. I struggle daily to get things done or even started sometimes. It has been rough on myself and my husband who has been there for me in so many ways. Striving for excellence for me one day may be getting in the shower and washing my hair, while another day it is making an amazing dinner for us. I have tried to be perfect and failed. Finally realized that my idea of perfection does not exist, however, striving to be excellent as I can be on a daily basis is a doable goal. If I don’t push myself too much. Thank you for this because it really hit home with me.