Basic Training

“Basic Training”

Just as you learned from us how to live in a God-pleasing way, now we ask and urge you to do this more and more.

1 Thessalonians 4:1

Riding in a car when your kid has a newly printed learner’s permit is like riding on a roller coaster. You normally survive, but it feels like you have flirted with death.

I remember when my daughter, Krista, started driving. The Advisory Committee (consisting of her parents and older siblings) would pile in the car, and we would all offer valuable suggestions for the completion of a successful voyage. The urgency in our voices increased with the speed of the car, until Krista found herself overwhelmed by a bombardment of instructions. We meant well, but pointing out every detail and nuance to be mastered is not the best way to learn a new skill.

If you want to learn how to drive, you should first put duct tape over the mouths of everyone else in the car.  You can still tell if they’re screaming, which is helpful, but other that that, you can focus on practicing the skills your driving instructor taught you.

Every athletic coach, music teacher, and drill sergeant knows the pattern: you start with the basics. Once you learn the fundamentals you repeat them again and again and again. Eventually, it becomes second nature.

Vince Lombardi, considered by many the greatest football coach of all time, understood this process. When he noticed his team’s sloppy play, he gathered his players and began his lecture by saying, “Gentlemen, we’re going back to basics. This is a football . . .”

After he instructed them on the fundamentals, they repeated plays endlessly until each player’s movements became second nature.

Lombardi was not a complicated man. The Packer playbook was thinner than most high school playbooks today. But, while the opposing teams knew what plays to expect, they had a daunting time trying to stop them.

Paul taught the believers in this Greek city how to live in a God-pleasing way. But now he is urging them to practice their faith more and more.

The Christian life is not complicated. You don’t have to begin by memorizing the book of Ephesians or by knowing the date the second temple was rebuilt. Instead, we begin by learning to be loved by God and find cleansing in his forgiveness. Then we duct tape the mouths of everyone around us so they won’t criticize us as we learn to live more like Jesus.

Now when I ride with my daughter, Krista, she zips down the highway at an exhilarating pace – while she simultaneously listens to music, eats gummy bears, and chatters non-stop with fellow occupants.

Personally, I think she’s a show-off.