By Jacob Ritchey, Junior at The Ohio State University
"Excellence in all things" was a phrase spoken during breakfast at Malta, one of SPO's three men's houses, after one of the many nights I had crashed there last year. As a commuter, one of my goals was to attend Morning Prayer as often as I could, which I accomplished by sleeping at Malta and joining the Household members for breakfast and Morning Prayer the next day. At breakfast one day, Ethan Schimmoeller, the leader of the house, talked about striving for excellence in all things. It was the first time I had heard that before, and at that point in my life, I was not living it out. Between schoolwork, working 10-15 hours a week, commuting to school, and being involved in SPO, I was stretched thin. Instead of striving for excellence, I was content with giving only a fraction of my energy to each commitment. I knew that I could do more, but I could not find the motivation or the drive to change because no one was there to constantly support and challenge me.
Thankfully, The Lord provided exactly what I needed, because I am currently in the midst of my first year living in Household. I live at Malta with seven other guys, and every day is a blast. The relationships I have with my Household brothers are unlike any of my past relationships. Each brother cares for and loves one another in such a unique way, and I am confident that every man would go to battle for his brother. We go out of our way to serve each other. For example, this morning at breakfast, one housemate had a birthday, so some of the men in the house got up extra early, made pancakes, and decorated the house with streamers. Selfless acts of love such as these give Malta life. My brothers and I also have fun together, with our “study” room being the place where some of the funniest things happen. One day we are destroying blank CDs with a bull whip, the next we are throwing tennis balls off the wall purposely trying to hit each other. In sum, every day at Malta is an adventure.
I think that the biggest thing that separates my house from a normal campus household is the pursuit of excellence. Through the example of my brothers, I am constantly challenged to be a better student, brother, and disciple. When I procrastinate, my brother at the desk next to me works hard for hours. When I forget to pray, my brother talks about the things he has been praying about. When I want to lock myself in my room and be alone, my brother invites a couple of guys from his men’s group over to play Nintendo64. I am surrounded by men who call me on to excellence by their own pursuit of excellence. Unlike how I felt last year, I find myself wanting to be better for the sake of my brothers. I know that I have grown tremendously in my first few months of Household. As the year progresses, I am confident that I will be able to grow even more because I live with holy brothers who constantly inspire me to strive for excellence.