I was trying to think of a specific time in my life where I had to practice to become good at something and the examples that came to me were almost too numerous to count. I couldn’t decide which one to choose from! Everything from walking, talking, and sports, to riding a bike, and driving a car. Obviously, reading, writing, and memorizing takes practice but I can’t leave out communicating, marriage and parenting too! The list goes on and on. With each skill there is a purpose to learn and a goal to achieve. It doesn’t mean that I’m particularly great at all of these things. I can, however, do most of them with an element of ease (although, walking in a straight line is still a challenge!)
It’s been said that it takes about 21 days (sometimes more) to develop a habit. Once something has become habitual we can usually do it without even thinking about it. But those first 21 days can be hard! We have to be intentional about pursuing the skill we’re trying to develop. We don’t change by simply wanting to. We have to learn what’s required of us and then actually do what’s necessary to see the change or growth take place in our lives. That includes practicing over and over again until we can do it without a second thought.
There have been seasons in my life where I have had little confidence. The enemy really enjoyed getting me to think I was worthless. I thank God he showed me that was a lie. We all have purpose from our heavenly Father. We are not worthless! Obviously we can’t be good at everything. We all have different callings, strengths, and gifts. Even if something comes naturally we still need to practice to get better at it and just because something doesn’t come naturally it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try! I’m not suggesting that we all become worship leaders…Yikes! But, those of us who don’t have angelic voices can still sing out loud to our amazing God and not worry about what others think.
One of the greatest obstacles we face is fear. Fear of what others will think, fear of rejection, fear of our own inadequacies, fear of failure, and so on. Let’s remember that “God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear but of power, love, and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7). We need to be proactive in living out our faith and being obedient when we know God is asking us to do something. The Holy Spirit is there to help us! We need to take the initiative and talk to our neighbors or the lady behind the check-out counter. We need to be brave enough to pray out loud in front of others, or to take the time to call that person we know is hurting and needs some encouragement. We need to walk up and introduce ourselves to that person we don’t recognize standing in the lobby at church. We need to read our bibles and study God’s word. We need to wear a smile even if we don’t feel like it! By practicing these things, and more, we are doing the greatest thing God asks from us. To love Him and to love others as ourselves. The more we practice living out this kind of love and intentional living the easier it gets!
There will be days when we experience defeat. In spite of your best efforts, there will be times when someone rejects your kindness, treats you poorly. or you feel like you’ve failed somehow. The devil will try to get you to believe that what you’re doing isn’t important. Don’t believe it! Don’t be discouraged or give up! In the Bible, James tells us to consider it pure joy when we face trials, because it develops faith and endurance in us. Philippians 4:9 says, “Keep putting into practice all you have learned and received from me – everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.”
So here’s what I’m challenging you to do. Practice doing something that doesn’t come naturally! First, pray and ask God to show you what that might be and to give you boldness. Second, look for opportunities and practice, practice, practice. Finally, watch for the wonderful things God does in your life and in the lives of others around you, as you walk in brave obedience!