Over the next several weeks, we will be sharing devotions based on the United Methodist membership vows, where we pledge to support the church with our prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness. This week’s focus is GIFTS.
14 As a result, we aren’t supposed to be infants any longer who can be tossed and blown around by every wind that comes from teaching with deceitful scheming and the tricks people play to deliberately mislead others. 15 Instead, by speaking the truth with love, let’s grow in every way into Christ, 16 who is the head. The whole body grows from him, as it is joined and held together by all the supporting ligaments. The body makes itself grow in that it builds itself up with love as each one does its part.
You may have heard of the “10,000 hour” rule. It became a mainstream concept after The New Yorker staff writer, Malcolm Gladwell (whose podcast “Revisionist History” I’ve recommended in a sermon before), wrote about it in his 2008 book, Outliers: The Story of Success. Basically, it’s the idea that it takes a lot of work and a long-term commitment to really “master” anything, even something you have a natural talent for. His basic thesis is that it takes about 10,000 hours of intense, focused practice to fully master something and if that sounds like a lot – it is! With that rule in place, say you practiced piano for 3 hours a day, every single day. That would be almost a decade of doing that in order to “master” it. I’m not sure if I want to master anything if that’s what goes into it.
In today’s text from Paul to the Ephesians, he makes an interesting point about who and what God “makes” us, and then the agency and growth we have then in being “fully grown” in the “fullness of Christ”. God gives the gifts, it’s up to us to work on them and to grow in those gifts. Someone can have a gift for preaching yet, after years of preaching, improve (I’m banking on it!) Sometimes when we’re good at something, we stop practicing and learning and growing because we know we can scrap by with our basic talent. But if we want to grow from these Christ given gifts in a way that become “supporting ligaments” for the body, then our commitment to not just embrace, but to grow in our gifts becomes essential.
I think I’ll take up the violin. Check in with me about it in 10 years!
by Rachel Callender
For Pondering & Prayer
What is something you’re interested in or maybe even good at that you always tell yourself to work on but don’t? Painting? Running? Speaking another language? Practicing an instrument? What’s one step you can take?
Prayer: Dearest Lord, give us to spirit, the motivation to grow this day. May we see the discipline of practice as devotion to your work in the world. Amen.