凡事追求品質──STRIVING FOR QUALITY IN EVERYTHING

身為一個天生具有創造力的人,我一直對各種形式的藝術創作感興趣,包括參加藝術和工藝博覽會,去看許多個人所展現的創造力。我在這些活動中觀察到,這些年來,許多事情已經發生很大的變化了。

二十世紀60年代和70年代,藝術和工藝博覽會開始在美國各地興起。那時的手藝尚有很多不足之處,幾乎所有的東西都可以被稱為「民俗藝術」。學徒方式的學習系統幾乎消失了,所以想用自己的雙手做東西的人,不得不自己發展技能。學習的機會是有限的;可用工具的品質也是有限的。

然而,從那時起,用木頭、玻璃、陶瓷和許多其他東西,製作出物品的工具有了很大的改進。我們現在可以參加講習或研討會,在現場或上網學習任何我們想學的東西,結果是藝術展和工藝博覽會的品質達到了驚人的水準。業餘或兼職的珠寶設計師、陶藝家和木匠,正在製造出50年前甚至無法想像的精美物品。其他工藝品如雕塑、攝影和繪畫也是如此。

這種對品質的追求,也移轉到製造的商品上了。在過去10年裡,照相機、電視、家用電器和汽車等,幾乎在所有方面都有所改進。在我的一生中,我擁有過許多汽車,而最後的三或四輛車,都是我在當時可能擁有過最好的車。而我最新的汽車,總是比之前的任何一輛都好。我目前的相機也是如此。

對我們這些在職場上的人來說,我們需要不斷生產更好的產品。從長遠來看,追求品質是最好的商業策略。在幾年前的一次專業咖啡製造商會議上,一位演講者被問了一個關鍵的問題:「你是貴婦百貨(高品質的百貨公司)還是十元商店(價格低廉的店舖)的產品呢?」因為台下的人都是從事專業咖啡的產業,意味著大家都需要做得更好。不能再用手工製作的標誌或破舊的家具。因為品質在每個方面很重要。

最近一份定期刊物中的一篇文章提醒讀者:「我們「如何去做任何一件事」,就可以知道我們是「如何去做所有的事」」。這就是為什麽,我們可以透過地板的清潔程度,或前門是否需要油漆來評判一家餐館。一位著名的商人曾說,當他經營汽車維修業務時,他都會在為每輛汽車修理之前,穿上一件乾凈的白色工作服。他不想穿著油膩的衣服,開始為客戶的汽車做維修。在我們生活的每一個領域都做到最好,這應該是一種習慣和生活方式。

這種對品質的強調,也會反映在屬靈的層面。聖經中的第一本書,敘述了上帝如何創造了光、天和地、水和天空、星星、所有的生物,包括動物和植物,以及最後是人類。在結束祂所有的工作時,聖經說:「上帝看着一切所造的都甚好。有晚上,有早晨,是第六日。」(創世紀1章31節)正如有人所說,「上帝不製造沒有用的東西!」

有趣的是,聖經更挑戰我們要效法祂的榜樣。歌羅西書3章17節告訴我們:「無論做甚麼,或說話或行事,都要奉主耶穌的名,藉着他感謝父上帝。」然後也許是為了加強這一點,幾節經文之後更勸告我們:「 無論做甚麼,都要從心裏做,像是給主做的,不是給人做的,….你們所事奉的乃是主基督」(歌羅西書3章23-24節)如果我們是在事奉,並且尋求榮耀這位,自己就是技藝精湛匠人的上帝時,我們敢提供給祂不是最好的東西嗎?

©2022 Jim Mathis是堪薩斯州歐弗蘭帕克的作家,攝影師和企業主。他的最新著作是《駱駝和針The Camel and the Needle》,《基督徒看財富和金錢A Christian Looks at Wealth and Money》。他曾任堪薩斯州堪薩斯城和密蘇里州堪薩斯城的CBMC咖啡店經理和執行理事。

備註:如果你有聖經,想閱讀更多的內容,可以考慮以下的經文:

箴言10章5節
10:5 夏天聚斂的,是智慧之子;收割時沉睡的,是貽羞之子。
箴言12章24節
12:24 殷勤人的手必掌權;懶惰的人必服苦。
箴言18章9節
18:9 做工懈怠的,與浪費人為弟兄。
箴言21章5節
21:5 殷勤籌劃的,足致豐裕;行事急躁的,都必缺乏。
箴言22章29節
22:29 你看見辦事殷勤的人嗎?他必站在君王面前,必不站在下賤人面前。
傳道書9章10節
9:10 凡你手所當做的事要盡力去做;因為在你所必去的陰間沒有工作,沒有謀算,沒有知識,也沒有智慧。
以弗所書6章7-8節
6:7 甘心事奉,好像服事主,不像服事人。
6:8 因為曉得各人所行的善事,不論是為奴的,是自主的,都必按所行的得主的賞賜。

反省與問題討論

  1. 無論是手工製作的工藝品還是製造出的商品,與多年前類似的東西相比,你覺得今天所產出東西的品質如何?你認為是什麽原因造成品質上的差別呢?
  2. 你能想到有哪些領域的產品品質持續低於預期嗎?如果有,請舉例說明。你認為可能的原因是什麽?
  3. 當你想到要努力實現最高品質時,銷售和利潤應該是主要動機嗎?你的觀點為何?
  4. 思考聖經中關於「凡事奉主的名」和 「無論做什麽,都要全心全意去做,如同為主工作,不是為人工作」的勸告,你如何回應?這些命令對你來說意味著什麽?我們的回應跟信仰的深度與信仰的品質有什麽關係呢?


STRIVING FOR QUALITY IN EVERYTHING

By Rick Boxx

Being a creative person by nature, I have always been interested in many forms of artistry, including going to art and craft fairs to see many examples of individual creativity. What I have found at those events has changed greatly through the years.

Art and craft fairs began to spring up around the U.S.A. in the 1960s and ’70s. Workmanship back then often left much to be desired. Just about everything could be called “folk art.” The apprenticeship system of learning had all but disappeared, so people wanting to make things with their hands had to develop skills on their own. Opportunities to learn were limited; so was the quality of the tools available.

Since that time, however, the tools for making things out of wood, glass, ceramics, and many other things have improved dramatically. We can now attend workshops or seminars, live and online, to learn whatever we want. The result has been an amazing level of quality at art shows and crafts fairs. Amateur or part-time jewelers, potters, and woodworkers are turning out beautiful objects that were unimaginable 50 years ago. The same holds true for other crafts such as sculpture, photography, and painting.

This pursuit of quality has transferred to manufactured goods as well. Cameras. televisions, home appliances, and automobiles all have improved in just about every way over the past 10 years. I have owned many cars in my lifetime, and each of the last three or four vehicles was the best I had owned to that point. And my newest car is better than any of them. The same is true of my current camera.

The lesson for those of us in business is we need to keep producing better products. Pursuing quality is the best business strategy in the long-term. At a specialty coffee makers’ conference years ago, one of the speakers asked a key question: “Are you Nordstrom’s (a high-quality department store) or the Dollar Store (a bargain-priced store)?” Since we were all in the specialty coffee business, the implication was we needed to do better. No more handmade signs or worn-out furniture. Quality is important for everything.

An article in a recent newsletter reminded readers that “How we do anything is how we do everything.” That is why we can judge a restaurant by how clean the floor is or if the front door needs to be painted. A noted businessman said when he was operating an auto repair business, he put on a clean pair of white coveralls for every car he worked on. He did not want to start working on a customer’s car in greasy clothes. Doing the best we can in every area of our life should be both a habit and a lifestyle.

There is also a spiritual aspect to this emphasis on quality. The first book in the Bible recounts how God created light; the heavens and the earth; water and sky; the stars; all living creatures, including animals and plants and ultimately, human beings. At the conclusion of all His work, it says, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). As someone has said, “God doesn’t make junk!”

It is interesting that the Scriptures challenge us to follow His example. In Colossians 3:17 we are told, “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.” Then several verses later, perhaps to reinforce the point, it exhorts us, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men…. It is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Colossians 3:23). If we are serving and seeking to honor God, the consummate Workman, dare we offer Him less than our very best?

© 2022. Jim Mathis is a writer, photographer and small business owner in Overland Park, Kansas. His latest book is The Camel and the Needle, A Christian Looks at Wealth and Money. He formerly was a coffee shop manager and executive director of CBMC in Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri.

Reflection/Discussion Questions

  1. What are your thoughts about the quality of things made today – whether works of craftsmanship made by hands or products that are manufactured – compared to the quality of similar things years ago? To what would you attribute the difference in quality overall?
  2. Can you think of any areas where quality of products continues to fall below expectations? If so, give an example. Why do you think this might be?
  3. When you think of striving to achieve the highest quality possible, should sales and profits be the primary motivation? Why or why not?
  4. Thinking about the Bible’s exhortations to “do everything in the name of the Lord,” and “whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men,” how do you respond? What do these commands mean to you? What does our response have to say about the depth and quality of our faith?

NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more, consider the following passages:       Proverbs 10:5, 12:24, 18:9, 21:5, 22:29; Ecclesiastes 9:10; Ephesians 6:7-8


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