Sometimes you should, sometimes you shouldn't. When? Why? Mason and i talked about that here. Below are some excerpts. But the original conversation is better.
Mason: I'm a coach. And sometimes what I see and experience makes me think, "Is it all about winning and losing? Is that the greatest purpose of what I do? Or of sports?" Maybe it's about giving your very best. If you believe that God created you, don't you think you owe it to Him to give your best? Even if you don't believe that, don't you at least owe it to yourself? I don't remember the times I won or lost so much as the times I gave it my all or just gave up...
David: ...there is almost always room for improvement, always something else you could do. How good is your best? With your track athletes for instance, at some point they quit working out and move onto other activities, other good activities. studies for instance.
I would liken it to propelling a vehicle. The best millage to speed ratio is 55mph. After that you can go faster, but it will cost you. And so it is with "giving your best" you can but it will cost you, often time, time that could be used on something better.
Mason: That's all fine Dave, but yours is a question of priorities. My comments are geared towards someone who has already made that decision, whether it be a workout or a competition. Once you have decided to use your time for that activity it only makes sense that you should give your very best. And your comment about not always striving for an A? That's weak. I'll quote a track & field legend. "To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift" - Steve Prefontaine
David: Prefontaine's quote is representative of a broader American ideal, often called the protestant work ethic, which stems from a theology that everything, including work, should be done to the glory of God. (John Calvin and others) On paper I agree with this, but I feel strongly about what happens when this good idea goes too far. Hence my concern over as you say, priorities.
I really believe, and I think you'll agree, that our priorities are pretty screwed up in this country. (i.e. workaholics/latch key kids) Part of that problem comes from an over-competitive nature, and a desire not to "sacrifice a gift" which on the good side has propelled this country beyond all others by some measurements, (economic) but at what cost? (spiritual/ethical)
At the end of the day I'm not saying your original post was wrong. All I'm saying is that you should not ALWAYS give your best.