Excellence Begins in the Mind

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Recently, the business community has idolized the pursuit of excellence. Experts have written tens of thousands of pages in hundreds of books, each proclaiming the “true path” to excellence.

Excellence is obviously a key to success in the business world. But it is also the key to something much more vital than mere business. Developing excellence in life is essential to pleasing God and living for Him in this life.

You may be familiar with Daniel. Daniel achieved the highest success available to him. He had an unusual and meteoric rise to power that leaves us wondering, “How did this happen?”

Daniel 6:3 tells that the king chose Daniel—among many rivals—to help rule his kingdom. But why?

Clearly, King Darius chose Daniel because God was orchestrating events for His divine purposes. But humanly speaking, God used something in Daniel’s life to advance him before the king. That “thing” was a spirit of excellence.

Excellence is what stood out to the king, and excellence continues to be what stands out today. Daniel had the same opportunity that we have: to represent God accurately and attractively with a testimony of excellence in order to advance God’s cause.

So how do we do this? Scripture teaches that at the core of a spiritual life of excellence is biblical thinking and accurate discernment. In other words, excellence starts in the mind.

Renew and transform your mind.

Paul explains in the following two passages that you must renew and transform your mind in order to “put on” a life that reflects God’s righteousness and holiness—a life following the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” — Romans 12:2

“And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” — Ephesians 4:23–24

Test all things.

God desires that we would grow in our Christian lives to test all things and hold fast what is good (1 Thess. 5:21). To be people who are spiritually excellent, we must be able to evaluate what is excellent and judge what is not, so that we can change our lives accordingly. In other words, we need to develop the spiritual skill necessary to separate truth from error and right behavior from wrong.

These commands to “be renewed in the spirit of your mind” (Rom. 12:2) and to “test all things” (1 Thess. 5:21) are not just given to the spiritual elite. These commands are addressed to all believers. God tells all Christians to test all things.

The task seems daunting, but God has given us the help we need to do this. He has given us His Word, but it is our responsibility to study it, or—as Paul puts it—to “hold fast to what is good” (1 Thess. 5:21b).

Cling to what is good.

Holding fast (clinging) to what is good is both defensive and positive. The defensive aspect is that we are to value the truth. The positive aspect is that we are to love the truth. You need to love and value God’s Word if you want it to infuse your mind and life.

Imagine a miner who discovered a giant nugget of “fool’s gold” and cast aside real gold nuggets to make room for it in his pouch. Yet that is what Christians do all the time when they don’t test all things and cling to what is good.

Christians who cling to God’s Word will see the fruit of excellence in their lives. Both their inner nature (who they are and what they think) and their external actions (what they say and what they do) will be transformed, resulting in a testimony of excellence before God and others.


Sam Horn (BA, ’86; MA, ’88; PhD, ’95 from BJU; DMin, ’07 from The Master’s Seminary) joined the executive team at Bob Jones University in January of 2015 before accepting the role as president of The Master’s University and Seminary in June of 2020.

Sam served in both academic and pastoral roles throughout his ministry at BJU. Sam desires to use his experience in pastoral ministry, teaching and academic administration to recruit and train students for all disciplines and to embrace the mission of advancing the Gospel and serving the Church effectively.