Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Key to Greatness

Things are starting to slow down around the Haverkamp house and I finally have some time to think.  When I can think, I can write, and when I write, I can blog. Here’s what I have been thinking about:

We are now in the process of teaching the fourth Haverkamp child to drive.  For those of you with young children, let me warn you; teaching teenagers to operate a two ton machine, with skill, and without killing anyone, is terrifying—which is why I let Brent do it.  Sometimes, when Brent is doing the teaching, I ride along in the back and close my eyes and pray, “Protect, protect, protect”, over and over again—I am not kidding.  It’s not that my teens are inherently bad drivers (Luke excluded—he knows this to be true.  He is 20 now and a great driver—and he’s in China right now and won’t read this post—but we narrowly escaped death several times in his early driving days), it’s just that driving requires them to use several of their mental processes at the same time.  It takes muscle coordination and good judgment. Have you looked at any 14 year old boys lately?  Mine is gangly and not always in control of his appendages, and his decisions are not always logical.  But the fascinating part of this whole scenario is this; with practice, these terrifying travelers eventually become reliable.  They drive and drive and drive, and then we let them go by themselves and they survive.  It’s truly amazing. 

What’s the key (get the pun?)? It’s training.  We sit beside them and guide them in and out of parking lots and onto freeway ramps.  We make them park in tight spaces and do three point turns.  We let them be nervous when they are driving on a two lane highway and a semi comes roaring toward them in the other lane.  We allow them to experience stress in a controlled environment, so when the real stuff comes along and they are alone, they will know how to deal with it.  And eventually they—even Luke--get good at this driving thing. Repetition makes habits.  Habits create skill.  Skill makes good drivers. 

Isn’t this what we should be doing as Christ-followers?  Shouldn’t we be training ourselves—and our kids—so we can become the best possible reflection of Jesus?  Instead of saying, “I’m not a very good pray-er”, how ‘bout we practice praying everyday—maybe setting a time for prayer, maybe writing out our prayers?  And then after we practice and practice and practice, prayer will come more naturally and easily.  And then when the hard stuff comes along, the stuff that makes our lives stressful, prayer will be what we think of first, because we have made it a habit.  And instead of saying, “I’ll leave the serving to others, cause that’s just not my gift”, how ‘bout we train by serving everyday?  Maybe in just simple ways, like making the bed for your wife (thanks honey), or by picking up the paper towels that fell out of the garbage can in the Target bathroom.  Then, maybe we’ll get so much in the serving habit that it will become part of our nature—even though it’s not our gift.  The same goes for basic disciplines like Bible study, evangelism, scripture memory—even eating healthy and exercising—’cause your body is His temple.  If we repeat these healthy, spirit-building habits enough—asking Jesus to assist us in our efforts--we will become skilled at them…and skill makes for a shiny reflection.

We can become highly proficient at things that we inhale vigorously (this phrase was coined by my oldest child when I wouldn’t allow him to say the word “suck”) at now.  Just look at our teenage drivers—they go from terrifying to terrific—especially Luke.  And we can go from reflecting Jesus mildly to reflecting Him magnificently.  But it takes a choice…and extra effort…and lots of practice.

Are you ready for greatness?

…train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.

1 Timothy 4:7-8

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