The Work Done in Secret

Left to ourselves, human beings are lazy. If this weren’t so, Proverbs wouldn’t be filled with admonishments to the sluggard. We love the easy way, the smooth path.

We also love to be recognized. We love attention. The mere existence of social media proves this point. How many Twitter followers do I have again?

The interesting thing is that to make progress and to be successful in most anything requires you to work diligently and in secret.

I was teaching some high school clarinet players today. Time and again, I found myself repeating the same advice: you must slow things down and practice it over and over. It’s tedious and time consuming but it’s the only way to get the results you want. Success is born from long hours closeted in the practice room.

Everyone wants the adulation that Yo-Yo Ma receives but no one wants to slave away on their scales.

I’ve seen the same principle at work in running. Even though I didn’t finish my last marathon, the training I did incorporated the same principles of working hard without recognition. No one saw me paying attention to the small things like form or stretching or strength training. I was the only one holding myself accountable to every workout through the 12 weeks of training. But now I am a more efficient and stronger runner.

Everyone wants the recognition that Michael Jordan receives but no one wants to practice free throw after free throw after free throw…….

If these things are true in music and sport, shouldn’t they be true in the spiritual realm? After all, He is the Creator and Designer of everything.

We all want to have this amazing relationship with God but many would rather not put in the work in secret. Reading your Bible every day. Setting aside time for prayer, every day. These are the fundamentals in the spiritual life just like scales in music or free throws in basketball. It requires diligence, but the results cannot come without it.

However, doing the little things day in and day out has an amazing compounding effect. Because I put in the hours playing scales in the practice room, I am able to play most things at sight. Because I have put in the time stretching and strength training, I am much less likely to be injured and am a faster and more efficient runner.

Just imagine what God might do in the life of a believer if she committed to do those little things every day. The Bible reading, one chapter at a time. The prayer, setting aside even 5 minutes every day.

As Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, God sees what we do in secret and will reward us accordingly.

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