Over the weekend I finished up an audiobook of Tony Dungy’s Quiet Strength. One of the secrets to his success (and he admits it learned it from legendary coach, Chuck Noll) is to emphasize doing the ordinary things better than anyone else. In Dungy’s view, that’s how great teams win. That’s how the Steelers of the 70s won and that’s how his teams did so well in both Tampa Bay and Indianapolis. The concept is a biblical one, an idea we see Paul speaking of over and over again in different ways to different people. The book of Colossians has this idea very clearly:
And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. – Colossians 1:9-10, ESV
And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister. – Colossians 1:21-23, ESV
Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God. – Colossians 2:18-19, ESV
And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. – Colossians 3:17, ESV
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. – Colossians 3:23-24, ESV
See the pattern? It’s a simple one: do the things you know how to do, do them well (as unto the Lord), and don’t be led astray by folks saying that there’s some shortcut, some magical, mystical way to do things better. In sports and in life plenty of people are looking for shortcuts. The truth about most shortcuts is that they aren’t. This is the warning Paul was trying to give the church in Colosse. Stay the course, do what you know is right and holy, and do it the best of your ability. In other words, do the ordinary things better, because that’s the real secret to a victorious life in Jesus Christ.
How are you doing with the ordinary things? How is your prayer life? How is your Bible reading? Are you meeting regularly with other Christians for the purpose of fellowship? How is your giving and acts of service? Are you making Sunday school and worship service? These are the “little things,” but they pay big dividends when we do them well. What do I mean by do them well? I mean when we do them with the right hearts, to honor and glorify God and draw closer to Him, as well as when we do them consistently. We’d all love to be used mightily by God but truth be told, most often it’s in the little ways that God is able to do so. After all, how can you reach out to that family at church if you’re never there? How can you lift up your brother with cancer if you don’t consistently pray? We must do the ordinary things better.