In this episode Gregg talks about the necessity for Christians to be pursuing excellence and the conditions for inclusivity within Christian communities.
He does so by drawing on his experience of moving from a small town is South-Central Alberta to Canmore Alberta, 15 minutes from Banff National Park, and the differences in employment experience that his spouse has had in their previous location versus in the town of Banff, where she is currently employed.
Gregg explains how the atmosphere in his new town is one where everyone seems excited and pleased to be there, and as a consequence seem eager to welcome new comers and share what they value about living in this place. By contrast, in his previous town people seemed mostly just to “find themselves there” and to be confined to small thinking and even a smallness of being.
The comparison is made between Christian churches: communities are open to outsiders and generally “inclusive” when people value their environment because they delight in the opportunities that it offers–they value the selves that they are becoming through being connected with this community or church. By contrast, Christian communities become “exclusive (and thus cliquey or club-like in mentality) when they find themselves with limited goals, aspirations, and options and the fear and resentment that this breeds of those who are outside of this restricted approach to life.
Gregg also notes the sharp contrast between the employment opportunity his spouse was offered in Banff, where the focus is achieving excellence, versus previous employment opportunities in their former town (which seemed very much to focus on mediocrity).
Further, he argues that excellence is not only a valuable orientation but that to be a Christian yet not to pursue excellence in any given area is to undercut one’s ability to relate rightly with God! Similarly, the gains made through the pursuit of excellence in one area will properly set our expectations–and create synergies–for the pursuit of excellence in other areas.
In this way, a commitment to excellence and seeking environments that offer valuable opportunities for self-development (and so create openness) are lifestyles: they require our full attention and life-long dedication. Gregg links these lifestyles with the aims of the Integration Project and suggests 5 tips that will help to promote excellence (over mediocrity) and inclusivity (over exclusivity):
- Seek dialogue,
- Beware of binaries,
- Examine concepts / develop a “conceptual toolbox,”
- Listen for prevalent questions,
- Identify core values
He describes the Integration Project as a way of being most human by being in right relationship with God, with oneself, and with others. By corollary then, he notes that excellence should be a hallmark both of rich humanity and of right humanity.