Dear Younger Me,
If you want to continue growing as a Christian, it is going to take practice. It’s not so much an instant transformation as a day-by-day process of learning to know God more and living for him more.
You understand the value of practice. You’ve seen it with your music and you’ve reaped the rewards. Today I want take some of the lessons you have learned through your music practice and help you apply them to spiritual practice, because this is the area of growth that really matters.
Practice has to be regular. Ideally it is something you do every day. There is no point in waiting until the night before your music lesson to begin practicing. If you want to improve, it needs to become a regular part of your routine. If you want to grow as a Christian, church is important but it is not enough. You need time each day to pray and read the Bible, to focus your mind on God.
Practice has to be intentional. Practice is not just sitting down at the piano for half an hour and playing whatever you like. It is working on specific sections of pieces, taking on board your teacher’s feedback, going over the same passages over and over again. It helps if you have the same intentionality with your spiritual growth. Follow a Bible reading plan, focus on a specific book of the Bible, read the same passages repeatedly, seeking advice from others – it will help you much more than simply opening the Bible at random each day.
You have to practice even when you don’t feel like it. You know that some days are busy – it can be a struggle to make time for your music practice – or maybe there’s a part you’re finding difficult and your practice has become less enjoyable. But you know that when you make the choice to practice anyway it’s worth it in the end. It’s the same spiritually – there will be days when you’re busy, or you don’t want to read the Bible, or you’d rather just ignore what God is asking you to do, but you will find it’s worth it if you push through and persevere.
It helps if you have a goal. The closer you get to an exam or a concert, the more you seem to practice, because you’re working towards something specific, and you know you want to give your best performance. Setting goals spiritually can help too. It can be to complete a Bible reading plan, to read a book that will help you grow, to attend a Bible study group, or to find someone to hold you accountable for habits you are trying to develop.
You will make mistakes. That’s why it’s called practicing. If you were going to be an expert right away, you wouldn’t need to practice! There will be times when it’s tough, but keep going.
Celebrate the little things. Remember when you passed your Grade 1 piano? It was a cause for celebration! You didn’t compare yourself to a concert pianist who had been playing for thirty years – you recognised that this was an achievement, a step along the way. It will help to do the same in your Christian life from time to time. It’s easy to look at how far you still have to go, but why not pause occasionally to look back and see how far you’ve come. Maybe you’re praying a little more and worrying a little less, maybe you notice yourself handling a situation in a more godly way than you would have a year previously. These are moments to pause and give thanks, and they will spur you on to keep making progress.
So get practicing! As Paul writes to Timothy: Throw yourself into your tasks so that everyone can see your progress.” (1 Timothy 4:15 NLT)
It’s a life-long journey. Whether it’s musical or spiritual, if you want to keep on improving you’ll need to keep practicing. You’ll never reach perfection in either of them, but seek to make all the progress you can.
This post is part of “Dear Younger Me…” – a series for Write 31 Days in October 2019.
Each day I am basing my writing on the one-word prompt provided. Today the prompt is “practice.” You can find an introduction to the series and an index of all the posts here, and you can find out more about the challenge and check out other people’s series here