Developing Spiritual Disciplines

Philip Stephens

Yesterday, South Tulsa hosted a Keyboard Festival sponsored by the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. These festivals are intended to encourage young keyboard players and to train future church musicians. Students are given critique sheets with a rating and constructive comments. Hopefully they leave inspired to keep learning.

Some of us remember our own piano lessons and the struggle to practice. We may also remember the struggle with our children, past or present, to encourage them to practice.  Sometimes the will of the parents is tested to the max. There are many excuses for not practicing such as “my brother hid my books” or “my dog gets sick when I play.” Likely the most common excuse is “I didn’t have time.”

Any time I hear the “time” excuse, my mind goes back to a college class. The professor called on a classmate regarding an assignment due that day. The student’s response was, “I didn’t have time.” Following the air being sucked out of the room, the professor very firmly stated to the student and to all of us that we all have the same amount of time. Likewise, it was our responsibility to find time to do our assignments.

Just as piano students must make time to practice, so all believers must make time to exercise spiritual disciplines. The excuses in this area are many, but again, the number one excuse is, “I don’t have time.” The new year brings renewed interest in disciplines and particularly spiritual disciplines. It’s a great time to reset our spiritual practices.
 
A characteristic of spiritual disciplines is that they are activities. They are not attitudes. Disciplines are practices. Spiritual disciplines are things you do. They are not character qualities. They are not the fruit of the spirit. They are things you do.

So, set your spiritual goals for Bible reading /memorization, prayer, witnessing, and other worthy activities. I have never heard anyone say they regretted learning to play the piano.  I only hear, “I wish I had kept practicing.”  Likewise, we will never regret practicing the disciplines that help us grow as Christians.

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