We’ve all heard that classic mantra “practice makes perfect” through the years. As I’ve taught music students, however, I’ve begun to appreciate that wise instructor who once advised me that practice makes permanent rather than perfect. How true that is. We are what we practice--whether right or wrong!
A book I recently read called The Power of Habit told an anecdote of Michael Phelps winning one of his many Olympic golds in a race where his goggles had gotten water in them and blinded his vision so completely that he couldn’t see after the first few strokes. How in the world did he manage to win anyway, seeing nothing? He had practiced so precisely the strokes it took, so consistently, that his habit took over and he didn’t even need to see what he was doing to win Olympic gold.
We as humans have the amazing ability to harness our practices for the good should we choose to. Is it possible to practice and strive for behavior that is Christlike, so that when times are hard and stress kicks in and we are busy our automatic inclination is to do right?
To raise your voice in anger could go AGAINST the grain.
To treat a coworker without respect wouldn’t feel quite right.
To speak to your sibling in a superior way could feel mean spirited.
To tell that anecdote about your spouse to a friend could feel disloyal.
To wish that person would stop going on and on about their problem may feel like you’re lacking compassion.
The Bible is full of verses telling us to observe our behavior and prioritize our relationship with our Lord, but also each other. (Colossians 3 comes to mind for me.) We know we are sinners--we are bound to fail in how we treat each other. Would it not be pleasing to the Lord for us to evaluate our practices and how they are affecting those around us? Is our family culture kind and respectful? Does my personality show Christ’s love or a fierce guarding of “my rights”? When we fail, let’s be purposeful in asking His help for living with more gentleness, goodness and mercy to those around us.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14