When my boys were young we had a “boys’ night out.” It was pretty wild. Dinner at Chili’s and Bowling on $2 Tuesday. I suspected I’d do better at Chili’s since I eat regularly but don’t bowl frequently. I did. Nothing was left on my plate.
Some pins, however, were left on the bowling lanes. Imagine my surprise when I ended up with a score of 292. I was envisioning the PBA Tour until the boys pointed out that 292 was my combined score for two games. Too many “just missed it by that much” opportunities. And for some reason it frustrated me.
Strange, isn’t it, that we think we should do better at things we don’t do often? A recent study asked the question: “What makes someone great?” Why is Tiger Woods a great golfer or Warren Buffet a premier investor? Most think they have a natural gift for their area of expertise.
But that’s not what this study revealed. The good news is that we are not born with specific innate abilities towards one specific job. Instead, there are some things that must take place for “greatness” to surface.
- First, nobody is great without hard work.
- Second, the hard work needed comes through deliberate practice.
- And third, you have to put in the hard work of deliberate practice regularly rather than sporadically.
No wonder I clear out a plate of food better than I can a set of bowling pins.
Maybe you’ve noticed the same in your life. You seemed to pick up a skill or did well at something initially, but over time it seemed you stopped developing. Maybe you’ve felt that way about God.
The good news is your relationship with God can improve with practice. When asked “Lord, teach us to pray . . .” (Luke 11:1), Jesus did not respond with: “Well, some just have innate abilities to pray while others do not.” Instead, he said, “When you pray, say . . .”
Then he taught them the basic strokes of prayer (Matthew 6:9-13): how to praise him, seek his priorities, ask for his provision, find his pardon, run to his protection, and focus on his power.
When a bowler finds himself in the gutter too often, he goes back to the basics. And when you feel your prayers are misfiring, go back to the basics. What is true in our area of expertise or skill in life is also true in spirituality. Both can be developed into great expertise.
You may just need some practice.
Question: What skill do you want to improve in your life? How do you want to develop spiritually?