We’ve all been given particular gifts by God. We all have particular passions, abilities, personalities, and experiences that God has brought us through in order to help us become all that he desires of us. The most fulfilling aspect of the spiritual life is to find and use the gifts that God gives us to serve others. Paul writes to a young man named Timothy and says, “That is why I remind you to help God’s gift grow, just as a small spark grows into a fire” (2 Timothy 1:6). Like the oak tree, rather than the blade of grass or the dandelion, growing something that will be significant takes time. With reference to our gifts and abilities they need to be developed. You’ve heard it said that there are three secrets to success at any intricate skills. The three secrets are practice, practice, and practice.

In his recent book entitled “Outliers: The Story of Success” Michael Gladwell entitles his second chapter, “the “10,000 hour rule.” He argues that to get exceptionally good at anything, it will take 10,000 hours of practice. The examples the author uses span every discipline from computers, sports, music, to acting and many others. One of the key studies performed in this area involved violinists. They had studied three groups of violinists. The first were the elite professionals that were known worldwide. The second were professionals who played in symphonies etc. The last group was talented ones that taught or played with small groups part time or as a hobby. It was found that the level of natural talent wasn’t as disparate as one would think. The real difference was in the hours of preparation. The conclusion was (I quote) “that the closer psychologists look at the careers of the gifted, the smaller role innate talent seems to play and the bigger role preparation seems to play.” The point of this chapter, and the point I’m making is that as Paul instructed Timothy, you really need to develop any talent God gives you. And development of a gift takes time and energy.

People who are passionate about something are much more likely to devote the time and energy to develop in that area. Football players, musicians, as well as accountants and administrators don’t rise very high in their field without a passion for their subject; neither do those who attempt to serve God or to even live the spiritual life of following Christ. We are called “disciples” because it truly does take discipline. I hear people often speak about ministry “fit” strictly in terms of natural ability and Spiritual gift. These are true aspects but they do not completely define a perfect match. Passion enough to stay with the activity is the key to real success. Without passion, many lose motivation and eventually quit. Many professing Christians fall away because of a true lack of passion for the expression of the gifts that God has given them. When Paul tells the young man, Timothy” to fan his gift “into flame,” he really means, “get passionate about it!”

“What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:9