Discipleship: Why We Need to Practice

I like the idea of practicing because it extends freedom.  I find grace in practicing. There is room for mistakes and room for improvement in practicing.  In time, the mistakes are fewer and expertise yields beauty. I need that: grace and room for mistakes but also a kind of learning that leaves me with something worthwhile, something beautiful.

A few years ago, I wanted to make a cozy, toasty wool shirt.  Because wool is expensive, I decided to make several practice shirts out of less costly fabric first.

Carefully following the instructions in David Page Coffin’s book Shirtmaking, I made a short sleeve shirt for my husband.  I choose a green plaid so I could learn how to fit the pieces together properly, the lines of the plaid serving as a guide.  He wore it so much the fabric thinned to something we could see through.

Next I made a purple corduroy shirt for myself so I could practice folding plackets and turning a collar.  I almost liked that shirt, but I wished the sleeves were slightly longer, so it ended up in the bin at the Salvation Army.  I let that imperfect one go because it was just a practice shirt. The next one would be better.

I made a total of four practice shirts before I made the cozy, toasty wool shirt I really wanted.  Each time I made a shirt, I learned something new about sewing to be used in the future. When I finally made the shirt I imagined at the beginning, it looked like something that came off a rack at the store.  I had not attained shirtmaking perfection, but I was pleased. I practice lots of things, actually: sewing, weaving, being a servant, telling the truth, demonstrating courage and following Christ.  

Discipleship is like making all those practice shirts first so I could make the shirt I really wanted.  The goal of all those practice shirts was a cozy, toasty wool shirt; the goal of discipleship is to be like Christ.  Obeying God is a learning process. It isn’t something I get right in the first go. It requires practice. Sometimes I get it right, sometimes maybe not, but with each practice step, I get a little better at it and learn something more about who Christ is and how to follow Him.  

Philippians 4:8-9 says, “Finally brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise dwell on these things.  The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Paul tells us to practice.

In the gospels we see Jesus practicing too. Before He started His public ministry, we read about Satan tempting Him. Satan lured Jesus to use the power of His Sonship to perform miracles for His own personal gain. Jesus had been fasting for a long time. He was hungry. In Luke 4:3 Satan tempts Him. “If You are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” In the next verse, though hungry and physically weak, Jesus responds with a quote from Deuteronomy, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’” In other words, “No! I won’t do that! I choose to obey My Father and trust Him to take care of me and my body.”

Later we see Jesus faced again with the very same temptation, only this time the stakes are life and death. While Jesus hung on the cross, he heard the religious leaders taunting Him, daring him to use the power of His Sonship to save His own skin. “He trusts in God; let God rescue Him now if He delights in Him; for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” (Matt 27:43) Jesus again chooses to trust and obey His Father, even to the point of death.

Jesus made His practice shirts so to speak, so that when it was hard -- really, really hard -- He knew how to trust God because He’d been doing it His whole life. It seems that when Jesus opted to trust God with His hungry body, it prepared Him in some way to trust God when His body was in agony. That practiced trust led to something beautiful, something worthwhile, to joy and to life. Hebrews 12:2 tells us that it was for the joy set before Him that He endured the cross. Mark 10:45 says, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

What things do you practice? I’m hoping you’ll practice discipleship with me so that as we approach the end of our earthly lives, we can look back and see something worthwhile, something beautiful: a lifetime of entrusting ourselves to God’s care producing joy and the hope of eternal life.


Looking for a meaningful way to take time out of your busy fall schedule to cultivate greater awareness, stillness, and peace? Join us on Saturday, October 19, 9:30-11:30 am for a free wellness morning with:

  • HolyYoga—Christian music and Bible verses as part of reflection.

  • Live music and light refreshments following the yoga time. One of the refreshments will feature samples from Clean Juice in Glen Mills.

  • A chance to win one of our many wellness giveaways! Some feature products by KC Essentials, gift cards & more!

No previous yoga experience required and no need for trendy yoga attire. Come as you are!

What should I bring?

  • Bring a yoga mat (or borrow one of ours)

  • Water bottle

  • Spouse/friends/neighbors

  • Your children (childcare is $10 per child/$20 per family. (Registration by Thursday October 17 is required for children so we have plenty of workers.)

Please register! For more information and to register CLICK HERE
Please note: This is at the Kennett Campus only.