When teaching my piano students, I often tell them-
"Do you know what the key to success is? Practice. I can only give you a 30 minute lesson a week, but I can't be there to push your fingers down on the keys and practice for you. YOU have to put the time and effort in. YOU have to put the hard work in. And if you do, I will be able to tell. In a week from now, if you are sitting and practicing every day, then the music that you play will be beautiful. The notes will be right, the timing will be right, the articulation will be right. If you want to make beautiful music, then you must put the time and effort into it. The amount of success you have as a pianist is only dependent on the work that you do."
Today, after saying that for the hundredth time to a student, it got me thinking. I mean, I am a writer, so words are usually flowing through my mind all hours of the day.
The same thing that I tell my music students can be applied to any situation in life.
It applies to church plants, or growing a successful church. (to an extent, I know God is the one builds the church.) When someone visits the average size Baptist church in America, (70-100 people, about the size of ours right now) they only see the result of hard work. They sit and listen to the orchestra play, and the congregation sing the hymns. They sit and watch the choir special. They sit and listen to the preacher preach the sermon. What they don't see is all the work that went into making that happen. They don't see the years of knocking doors and getting converts into the pews. They don't see the blood, sweat, and tears that went into the building. They don't see the time that was invested in all of the families, and the hours of free counseling that the pastor and his wife do with anyone struggling with problems. They don't see the study put into sermons, or the practice put into the music. All of those things are done without someone "forcing" it to happen- without someone breathing down someone's neck and pressuring them to get to work. It's done out of love for the congregation, love for the Lord, love for the community, love for the lost.
It applies to raising kids. When someone sees a well behaved child, or a well adjusted grown young man or young lady who loves the Lord, loves the church, and loves his or her family, they don't see what went into that. It didn't just happen. It took hundreds and thousands of little, intentional moments, all melded into years of child rearing. It took prayers, and sacrifices, and instruction. It took dying to self on the part of the mom and dad. It took putting that child's needs above their own. It took sleepless nights and tiring days of teaching, and instructing, and disciplining. Having a good kid doesn't "just happen". It took years of instilling character, and hundreds of life lessons from Mom, and spending time with Dad. It took teaching wisdom and Biblical principles and staying on top of things. It took a watchful eye and a listening ear. It took being intentional on having a happy home: not just raising them in a "prison" for 18 years, where you shield them from every and all temptation and then release them into the world and hope for the best, but rather explaining WHY you do things the way you do, and WHY you believe what you believe. It's action over words. It's real, authentic day to day life- letting your kids see your love for Jesus as you strive to glorify him and brings others to him, as well. It's taking the kids to church day in and day out- it's not trying one thing, quitting, trying another, quitting, and so on and so forth. It's the nitty gritty, heart wrenching, day in and day out, exhausting, time consuming WORK that no one sees that produces a good kid.
It applies to having a side income, or a small business. Take specifically, my piano teaching business. I didn't decide to just start my own piano teaching academy three years ago without any preparation. I started private music instruction at age 7. I added on flute and vocal lessons at around age 12. It wasn't something that necessarily came easily to me. I wasn't born with perfect pitch. While my mom sings, neither one of my parents had ever had musical instruction of any kind. My intonation has vastly improved over the years, and now I can tell you if someone is flat or sharp, and I am usually within a half step of the right note, but it's taken years and years and hours and hours and days and days of practice. It's taken ear training lessons, and hours of sitting in master classes and paying hundreds of dollars to instructors, and music camps, and did I mention, PRACTICE- that got me to where I am today. And even now, I STILL practice and learn and research constantly to better improve my musicianship!
It applies to being a good Christian. You don't get saved and magically get a new body that no longer struggles with the flesh. Guess what? That doesn't happen until we see Christ. So until then, it takes work to be a good Christian. It takes days and days and months and months and years and years of reading the Bible. It takes choice after choice and moment after moment of dying to self. It takes time after time after time of denying the flesh and walking in the Spirit. It takes resisting temptation and sin. It take pruning in our lives. Allowing the Spirit to take control. Forgiving when we don't want to forgive. Turning the cheek when we don't want to. Talking sweetly and nicely when we want to use foul language. Pushing down our temper when it flares, and instead, walking away from a volatile situation.
DOING rather than just SAYING.
The key to success when it comes to anything you want to accomplish in life is just DOING. Working. Striving. Pressing forward.
You can listen to preaching all day long, but the preacher can only do so much. It's up to you to take what you learn and incorporate it into your own life. You can even read the Bible all day long, but if you don't allow it to change you from the inside out, then who cares how much you read?
All of us have the potential to produce beautiful "music" in our lives. What that sounds like is up to us, and only us. We are the ones who have to put the work and effort in.
It takes intentional, purposeful, determined living on our part. It takes days and days of building what we want into our lives. It takes consistency, and practice, and work. It won't show up in a day, or a week, or even a month, but years from now, all of the behind the scenes work, effort, and practice WILL show up in your life. The "music" you have been working so hard at will be shown in your kids' lives, in your church, in your spiritual walk, in your business, in your relationships with others.
Like I tell my students- it can be done!
But it can only be done by you.
What kind of beautiful music will your life produce?