Most of us know that excellence doesn't come through shortcuts or along the path of least resistance. By its nature, quality requires exacting standards and attention to detail. So premium products cost more. More has been invested in them, so their value goes up. You understand that about your company and the product or service. Do you understand the same is true with relationships?

A friendship maintained over time is costly. Not only does it take effort just to keep up with someone when both of you are moving around in your first few years of your careers but it also requires even more to deal with personality quirks, misunderstandings, and slights. Lacking the willingness to pay attention and to invest emotional energy, friends become mere acquaintances — and eventually become strangers all over again.

Ever wonder why Scripture represents the church as the family of God? Why it pictures its members as sisters and brothers to one another? Maybe your cynical response is to say it is because we are so much like children fussing in the back seat in the family car. Granting that, the deeper truth is that we belong to one another in a significant way and are expected to look out for one another in a pinch, to take up for one another when the neighborhood bully (i.e., Satan) comes calling with the sinister intent of doing real harm to one of us.

The most intimate of human relationships is the one between husbands and wives in our marital covenants. With sociologists telling us that about half of all first marriages are failing, something must be wrong with our thinking. Where is the "excellence" we are building into our roles as mates and parents?

Research tells us that "till death do us part" has been laid aside as an archaic convention in wedding ceremonies of late. In its place are things like "for as long as our love shall last" or "until our time together is over." How's that for being open-ended? For leaving a way out? For some people, what they call "love" doesn't last into the third month. Their "time together is hardly enough to unpack.

"Make it easy on yourself" seems to be the rule of thumb for too many of us. So we are shallow in our faith, careless about our character, and weak in our commitments. We betray our spiritual potential. We abandon the ethical path.

Make allowance for each other's faults, and forgive the one who offends you. Since the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive each other. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts (Colossians 3:13-15 NLT).

Don't forsake your highest ideals.
Don't forsake your highest ideals. True enough, you might still fall short of some worthy goals. But you will never achieve them on the path of minimal effort.