Do you remember the Ford commercial of years ago that proclaimed, “Quality is Job One”? According to the ad, the carmaker’s primary responsibility was to ensure buyers of its vehicles would always receive the highest-quality products.
When I was reminded of this motto recently, it prompted me to wonder about quality: What is it, and how is it achieved? A recent visit to a plant operated by a manufacturing company I’ve been working with provided some insight into these questions.
We often think of quality in terms of something made with great precision and exquisite care. For instance, the Stradivarius violins and other stringed instruments handcrafted during the 17th and 18th centuries by members of the Stradivari family. Many experts consider these instruments – of which about 650 remain in existence today – to be unsurpassed in quality.
That makes sense for things meticulously made one at a time. Time and effort can be devoted to making them as good as possible. But what about quality on a production line when hundreds or even thousands of something must be produced over a short period of time? As one of the men I was talking with at the manufacturing plant observed, quality is simply doing the job right each and every time. No exceptions.
Think of it this way: If you needed surgery, would you go to a surgeon whose success rate was only three out of five? For every three patients that did extremely well, two others died? Or how about an airline pilot with a 75% success rate on landings, meaning his planes crashed only one out of every four times? Would you be eager to travel on his aircraft?
When we look for quality, whether it’s prescription medicine, a can of beans, a computer or a mattress, we rightfully presume we’ll receive the manufacturer’s very best product every time we purchase it. As consumers we expect consistent, every-time quality and refuse to accept less than the highest standard.
But I sometimes wonder whether we have the same appreciation for quality when it comes to how we conduct our daily lives.
In Colossians 3:17 the apostle Paul wrote, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” In case we might have missed that admonition, he reinforced it six verses later: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” That sounds like a pretty high standard.
To me this means whether we’re a mail carrier, grocery clerk, schoolteacher, engineer, airline attendant or server in a restaurant, whatever we do should be done with quality that would be suitable for God Himself. That means putting forth our very best every time, regardless of the circumstances.
Whether we’re painting a room, cooking a meal, or performing volunteer work, we should do it as if doing it for the Lord – because ultimately, we are. In the Old Testament the Israelites were instructed to give always from their “first fruits,” selecting the very best to present to the temple priests. To give second best, offering their castoffs even once, was unacceptable.
The Bible doesn’t use the phrase, but for followers of Christ, it’s clear that “quality is job one.” Jesus gave us His very best – including His life on the cross. He deserves our very best in return. Not once, or occasionally, but all the time.
Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, a former newspaper editor and magazine editor. He is presently vice president of communications for Leaders Legacy, Inc., a non-profit focused on mentoring and coaching business and professional leaders. Bob has written hundreds of magazine articles, and has authored, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” “Business at Its Best,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” He edits a weekly business meditation, “Monday Manna,” which is translated into more than 20 languages and distributed via email around the world by CBMC International. He also posts regularly on two blogs, www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com, and www.bobtamasy.wordpress.com. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.