Back in the 1980s, a movement began that invited business leaders to focus on doing things and making things that featured excellent quality. The Malcolm Baldridge Award became a prestigious achievement and Tom Peters’ books were inspiring business leaders and manufacturers to strive toward perfection. That movement permanently affected life in much of the capitalist world, driving creative minds to do things bigger and better than ever imagined or to craft unique products that offered enduring value.
As a writer in the field of religion, I would expect one fan of the Quality Movement (as it came to be called) is Jesus. In his story about a business manager in Luke 16, he chided his followers for lacking imagination and creativity specifically in their business activities and made it clear that he expects his followers to generate lots of Baldridge Award winners.
Why would he expect such a thing? As people of faith, we live our lives under God’s power, plan and purpose. We are freed from the burden of self-reliance and from the anxieties that go along with that because we know God is working all things toward our lasting good. Living fear-free, we face a question no one ever faced before. We should not ask what we HAVE to do because we don’t HAVE to do anything. God is giving us all we need. At the same time, there is nothing we CAN do to earn our place in life because we already enjoy full and eternal acceptance and you simply can’t improve on that. The only question we face is one that most of us shy away from ever asking ourselves because it’s just too scary to deal with. That question is: What do I WANT to do with my life? Every other question has been answered. Each of us is free from all the “shoulds” and “musts” that define most lives (unless we choose to simply ignore the gift given to us). So with every possibility, the universe offers wide open to us the only question we each face is what – honestly – do I want to do? Once we figure that out our life task is simple, do it.
It turns out that the question God sets before us is also the foundation of excellence in business and living. Top quality in any area of life cannot be achieved by pursuing objectives that others have set before us or by serving the banal expectations of culture. As I demonstrate in my book The Ethics of Chaos: Finding Happiness in a World Gone Crazy (available on Amazon), a high quality life begins when we each identify the unique dream God has planted in our head and heart and pursue that dream with passion and courage rooted in faith in God and it’s natural outflow, trust in ourselves.