“The real difference between men is energy. A strong will, a settled purpose, an invincible determination, can accomplish almost anything; and in this lies the distinction between great men and little men.” Thomas Fuller
“We must face the fact that many today are notoriously careless in their living. This attitude finds its way into the church. We have liberty, we have money, we live in comparative luxury. As a result, discipline practically has disappeared.” A. W. Tozer
6 – 4 – 3 The shortstop scooped up the ball, pitched it to the second baseman who rifled it to first. A perfect double play to end what could have been a disastrous inning. Someone sitting in the stands commented how these high school athletes made the play look so easy. One of the dads who helped coach happened to overhear the comment. “That’s because they have run that play thousands of times. It has become second nature to them.”
It’s been said, “Practice makes perfect”. That is not necessarily true. Practice makes permanent. Do it over and over again incorrectly, and you have simply developed a bad habit. “Perfect practice makes perfect”. It takes a lot of sacrifice – blood, sweat and guts – to achieve excellence – to separate yourself.
The Apostle Paul understood that this same degree of intensity was necessary to reach a level of “spiritual” excellence. In his letter to young Timothy, Paul urges him to “…train yourself for godliness.” (1 Timothy 4:7 ESV) It’s interesting that the Greek word for “train” is gymnazo, from which we get the word gymnasium, and it means to exercise vigorously. Strenuous spiritual exercise in order to produce godliness. Paul goes on to say, “…godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” (1 Timothy 4: 8 ESV)
Promise for the life to come – but also for this present life. Too often in this world, our spiritual lives are lethargic and weak. Maybe our lack of power as Christians is simply spiritual inactivity. Maybe we need to get our fight back. Get back in the Word. Seek spiritual excellence in prayer.
Inspiration comes by perspiration.
Paul must have known that there would be a tendency for Timothy to be lackadaisical in his day-to-day journey. He reminded him, “Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you…” (1 Timothy 4:14 NAS) … “For to this end we toil and strive… “Practice these things…immerse yourself in them…” (1 Timothy 4: 10 ESV)
Sacred vigorous exercise.
Daily devotional discipline.
Who knows – you just might make a divine “double” play to get yourself out of a mess – and turn your life around.
Tim Clinton, Ed. D., LPC, LMFT (The College of William and Mary) is President of the nearly 50,000-member American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC), the largest and most diverse Christian counseling association in the world. He is Professor of Counseling and Pastoral Care, and Executive Director of the Center for Counseling and Family Studies at Liberty University. Licensed in Virginia as both a Professional Counselor and Marriage and Family Therapist, Tim now spends a majority of his time working with Christian leaders and professional athletes. He is recognized as a world leader in faith and mental health issues and has authored over 20 books including Breakthrough: When to Give In, When to Push Back. Most importantly, Tim has been married 36 years to his wife Julie and together they have two children, Megan, who is married to Ben Allison and is practicing medicine in dermatology, and Zach, who plays baseball at Liberty University. In his free time, you’ll find him outdoors or at a game with family and friends.