John Gardner, late President of the Carnegie Foundation, once said something about excellence that has stayed with me. He said, "The society that scorns excellence in plumbing because plumbing is a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because philosophy is an exalted activity, will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy. Neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water."

This is Howard Butt, Jr., of Laity Lodge. A nation that values excellence more than status is likely to have more of both. Character produces excellence. Philosophy to plumbing, gardening to government, as we praise excellence wherever we find it, our actions teach—the high calling of our daily work.

"I do not accept praise from men, but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts. I have come in my Father's name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him. How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God?"

(John 5:41-44)

Originally Published: Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Howard E. Butt, Jr., is a business leader, spiritual reformer, bridge-builder, communicator, innovator, and author. He is one of America's earliest and most consistent advocates of servant...
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