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Time to Practice

Leonard Jones, the worship leader at MorningStar church in North Carolina, posted this on his ‘blog’ (which some would consider something less than a full-fledged blog since he doesn’t allow comments).  Since his posts are short, I have copied it in its entirety:

I have been a Christian for 36 years now and I have heard “there is a new sound coming to the church” for 36 years. The good news is, this is very true. The not so good news is that this will not happen until we stop listening to each other, get in our private places, and practice our little backsides off. Will God circumvent His natural order of things and just give a new sound to a bunch of lazy church musicians? I don’t think so. However, I do believe there is a new sound available, but just like all great treasure it is hidden and very costly to find. Will you go for it?

I think he’s fairly radical in this point, and it challenges me as a musician.  But the same point can be made about anything in life worth having: are you willing to put the time in to be excellent?  Once you have acquired a skill, be it worship leading, preaching, proficiency in Greek, or theological understanding (things that are dear to my heart), or whatever else you may feel drawn or called to, it becomes easy to slack off and perform moderately well with little or no practice.  But to really be excellent, and to maintain that excellence, requires constant practice and effort.

My problem has always been that I want to be a Jack-of-all-trades, and I tend to be too flighty to put the effort into mastering one.  Actually what usually happens is that I will think I’m going to focus in, but my attention is drawn to a peripheral subject which I end up becoming more proficient in than the original object of my study.  For instance, I started out playing bass guitar in high school and then thought, “I ought to learn the guitar so that I can follow along with other guitar players when I’m playing bass.”  So I picked up the guitar on a whim, found more opportunities to play guitar than bass, and am now (15 years later) significantly more proficient on guitar.

As Finger 11 said, “If I traded it all, if I gave it all away for one thing… wouldn’t that be something.”  As stupid as these lyrics are, it’s still true.  If you could devote your life to just one thing, you could become pretty amazing at that thing.  What one thing should you be devoting more time to?

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Jessie
    March 6, 2008 at 9:47 pm

    Good post & good challenging question to end with. I need to think about that a lot, because, like you, I get into so many new things I’m learning and as I’m learning, find all these other new things that I don’t know and want to learn them too. Currently, everything I’m wanting to learn is artistic and creative in nature (banjo, writing, visual art, etc.), and I feel there’s just not the time to devote to it that I’d like. The other, more spiritual thing, is prayer–specifically intercessory prayer. I sure like to read a lot about it, and I’m totally convinced that it’s necessary and effective, but it’s hard to see fruit from it (much like learning art; it’s hard to see the fruit for a while).

  2. March 7, 2008 at 7:27 am

    Wow, that’s good. I don’t know what one thing I’d choose…

    I’d like to say bass, since I’m already playing that, and really good bassists are hard to come by. And I really enjoy playing and practicing.

    But I’d also like to say web design, because I could make lots of money and help people out. But I don’t particularly enjoy it, so… never mind, I don’t want that one. I just want to magically become better at it, but I don’t wanna learn anything.

    Or maybe guitar. I know enough to be embarrasing, but if I was awesome at it, I’d have lots of opportunities to use my sweet skills.

    Or preaching would be cool to be amazing at too, so I could impact lots of lives in a big way.

    In the end, I guess I’ll say bass, because I think that’s the one thing I could most realistically stick it out in practicing.

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