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Perfect Execution: The Habit of Quality Work
Recently I have had occasion to re-read and study various sections in the book of Exodus which speak to the building of the Hebrew tabernacle. As God instructed his people through Moses, materials were gathered and used according to God’s specific plan. I was struck once again by God’s detailed directions for the same: exact measurements, steps for accomplishing the construction, carefully chosen materials, workers equipped for the skills needed on the job, the layout of the property, accurate procedures for the task. God also reminded the people of the importance of taking the seventh day rest throughout the process. In addition, He warned of consequences for not complying with His direction. Moses dutifully relayed these instructions to the people, and they willingly and joyfully obeyed. God’s attention to detail was specific and necessary to produce a place where He could dwell, where He would be met and worshipped by His people, and where His glory would be made known.
In pondering these Scriptural passages, Charlotte Mason’s admonition of perfect execution or quality work done by her students was brought to mind, as well as our call as parents and teachers to instill this desire and habit within our children. It might be a call even to ourselves. In Exodus, God commanded specific attention to detail in order to honor Him. His people were called to obedience through their efforts. Their abilities were developed and used for His glory. Theologically, the picture of redemption comes to mind. For us and our students, the element of beauty, order, offering one’s best, the achievement of accuracy, respect for others as they view or use the work, perseverance, joy in accomplishing something of quality and durability, and other similar benefits are seen in doing quality work.
To develop this habit, It is important that we hold high expectations for our children’s work in all areas of study, and model the same when necessary: neat, uniformly-shaped, legible handwriting; clear, evenly-spaced labeling on straight lines for drawings and charts, numerals placed precisely in the grid of math copybooks, matching pitch in singing, taking care not to smudge a picture reproduction, planning carefully prior to the execution of a dry-brush water painting, erect, quiet posture when reciting a poem, exact copying of a transcription, careful proofreading of a composition. We may have to look at our own experience and evaluate our own habits. For example, consider where we may let things “slide,” and then make continued efforts to raise our standards. It may be an opportunity to point our students to God, and train them to look to Him for strength and perseverance in creating quality work.
In thinking again about the building of the tabernacle with God’s detailed instructions to his people, and the task before us in “growing up” our students, we can encourage them and ourselves that their growth and development is of the Lord. Charlotte Mason reminds us: “Whatever the agency, let children be assured that the work is the work of God, to be accomplished in the strength of God, according to the laws of God: that it is our part to make ourselves acquainted with the laws we would work out, and that, having done all, we wait for the inspiration of the divine life, even as the diligent farmer waits upon sunshine and shower.”1
As we’ve entered this new year and new semester, let us endeavor to maintain high standards and expectations toward producing quality work and challenge ourselves and our students to do so with a dependence on God, who desires our best for His glory.
1 Mason, Charlotte, Parents and Children, 167.
Image courtesy of RiverTree School, MN