Monday, June 22, 2009

Striving for Perfection

(Downtown Monroe)

The composer Giuseppe Verdi (1812-1901), at age 18, wrote: "All my life as a musician, I have striven for perfection. It has always eluded me. I surely had an obligation to make one more try." At 18 Verdi was already an accomplished musician.

Peter Drucker writes that Verdi's words became his "lodestar" in life. Drucker says" "I resolved that if I ever reached an advanced age, I would not give up, but would keep on. In the meantime, I would strive for perfection even though, as I well knew, it would surely always elude me." (The Daily Drucker, 190)

Paul, in Philippians 3:12, writes: "Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me."

Paul here presents himself as a runner, straining towards the finish line. Gordon Fee says "Paul's point is not winning as such; rather, his focus is on the runner, who runs so as to win." (Fee, Paul's Letter to the Philippians, 347) "Christ is both the means and end of God's call; and "knowing him" is finally and fully the "prize" toward which Paul stretches every nerve. (Ib., 350)

This is not about "perfectionism." It is, for me, about a goal, a prize in life to be attained, which is Christ. Thinking of Verdi's words, even though I fall short, I owe it God and others to give it one more try. Paul's words, and Verdi's and Drucker's, are about escaping the illusion that the mountain of excellence in life has already been summitted.

Today is a new day. A day of pressing on and embracing the Perfect One, Christ in you, the hope of glory.