In the book Outliers, Malcom Gladwell shares something fascinating not because it isn’t obvious but because it’s truer than we might have realized. How much and the manner in which you practice directly correlate to your level of achievement. The book starts with the example of elite hockey players in Canada. The vast majority are born early in the year. Why? It’s simply because the league sign ups divide players by birth year. Thus, those born in January are the most advantaged because they are the oldest players, with the most opportunity to practice and develop just a little more coordination and size. Hardly any players with December birthdays make it. It’s not about innate talent but practice, practice, practice.
I believe the most famous part of the book is the assertion that practicing in the correct manner for a total of around 10,000 hours makes you an expert or pro in any field. Surgery, music, golfing, cooking, you name it. What do you want to be a top talent in? If you spend half an hour a day for 54 years or an hour a day for 27 years or two hours a day for 13.5 years or three hours a day for nine years you can make it, just practice the right way over the right amount of time.
My favorite basketball player was always a short guy. I think I resonate with that because I stood on the outer edges of the choir growing up. His dad played in the NBA and from childhood he always wanted to follow in dad's footsteps but when he told people his dream, they wouldn’t take him seriously. “You’re too small.” He had good ball handling and passing skills but it was hard to get a shot in if he was guarded closely. His dad saw that he had a lot of heart and determination and helped him to adjust his shot so he would release it more rapidly and from a higher point. With practice over time, he led his high school to multiple titles, he led a small college to defeat schools 10 times their size and he led the most dominant team in recent history to three NBA championships and has changed the game of basketball. Who is it? Stephen Curry of course.
In 1 Timothy 4:7-10 Paul writes to Timothy about some things we should avoid altogether, some things that we should give moderate attention to and an area we should give our focus to. He writes, “Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales [apparently his words for heresies that were being spread at the time]; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.
I grew up with a love for playing sports. Being successful in them made me feel important, especially in baseball where I was on the all-star team from a young age. Early on I would cry when I would voluntarily skip games scheduled for Sabbath. I felt so torn between God and my team. As I got older and invested more in my relationship with God it got easier and easier. God increasingly took precedence over sports. Some Adventist kids did the opposite, they invested more and more in sports and decided to play on Sabbath and I saw them drift from God as sports seemed to take a higher place in their priorities. These days none of us play sports professionally but some grew in God and some drifted as a result of how we spent our younger years.
Ellen White says, “As in the natural, so in the spiritual world.” The Bible says, “You reap what you sow.” What are you invested in and practicing that will last forever? Whatever craft or career you have, may it be clearly subservient to your higher purpose in Christ. May it be a platform that you use to spread His kingdom of love as you work in tandem with God. I believe God wants us to thrive in our work and other endeavors but may everything we do be done for his glory and under His guidance so that if we’re making anyone famous it’s Jesus.
Jesus went all in by leaving heaven to come to this earth for our rescue. Will you respond wholeheartedly today?
Want to know where your heart is in regard to your priorities and practices? Follow the trail of how you spend your time, talents, energy and treasures. Are you intentionally investing time seeking the God who seeks you constantly? Do you still feel awkward in your relationship with Him? You can be close to Him today and grow ever closer every day. Will you let God give you this gift by practicing being in His presence and letting Him guide your decisions? Please feel free to contact me or any of the pastors or leaders in the church if you would like support in taking the next steps.
Jesus calls us to seek first His kingdom and to trust that all the things we need will be supplied by Him. Will you take practical steps in that direction today? How so? Please share in the comment section below. God bless you friends!