Music Through the Eyes of Faith, Chapter 5

Harold Best.jpg

Music Through the Eyes of Faith, by Harold Best, is a book I re-read every few years. Dr. Best is Dean Emeritus of the Wheaton College Conservatory of Music and his book should be required reading for every Christian musician.

I'm embarking on another reading of Music Through the Eyes of Faith and over the coming weeks will be sharing some thoughts. These posts won't be a formal review and will not attempt to be comprehensive. I'll just be sharing items that stand out to me as I read - quotes, ideas, insights, and wisdom.

Previous posts in this series: IntroChapter 1Chapter 2Chapter 3, Chapter 4.

Favorite Quotes from Chapter 5

Now let’s try for a definition of excellence—the simpler the better—that is faithful to these Scriptures. Excellence is the process—note that word process—of becoming better than I once was. I am not to become better than someone else is or even like someone else. Excelling is simply—and radically—the process of improving over yesterday or, in the apostle Paul’s words, “pressing on” (Philippians 3:14, NIV). Whatever the standards or conditions are, I am to strive to better them and to seek higher ones. In fact, I might even be able to raise ones that exist.
— p. 108
In this absolute sense, excellence is directly connected to stewardship. Perhaps it can be better stated this way: Since we are to be good stewards and since we are commanded to press on and become better than we once were, excellence is the norm of stewardship. There are no exceptions. It is commanded of everyone. Excelling is to be normal. It is not reserved for the elite, the bright, the culturally advanced, the rich, the powerful, the beautiful people, or those with biological, intellectual, musical, or socio-economic head starts. Nor does the pursuit of excellence necessarily signify how any of these people got this way.
— p. 109
1. Excellence is not perfection.
2. Excellence is not being better than somebody else, nor is it even being like him, her, or them.
3. Excellence is not winning, although it may include it.
4. Excellence is not on-again-off-againism.
5. Excellence is not assuming that my way of doing things is automatically excellent simply because I intellectually agree that I need excellence.
6. Excellence is not just practicality and favorable results.
— p. 109-113
Ministry and fame have become so equated with each other that it is nearly impossible to think of anything but fame if one contemplates a ministry in music. But for the dedicated Christian, music making has to begin and continue in the same way all other activities do. Personal excelling, competing, and succeeding are intensely personal and, in the most fundamental sense, disconnected from what has happened to someone else or what the culture’s definitions, standards, behaviors, and expectations might be.
— p. 116