Peyton Manning, quarterback for the Super Bowl bound Denver Broncos, recently threw for the most passing yards and the most passing touchdowns in NFL history. He is physically gifted beyond imagination, but he doesn’t attribute his football success to his natural ability – he credits his success to his dedication to preparation.
Every football player prepares, but Peyton’s former teammates have described a kind of preparation that goes beyond the norm. When Manning’s at the helm there are little to no off days, meetings are intense, practices are fast paced, and things get fixed on the spot. Even during the game, right before the ball is snapped, he is still making adjustments and helping his teammates prepare for what’s coming. David Cutcliffe, Manning’s college coach said, “He’s redefined preparation.”
While it is easy to admire Manning’s preparation, it is seen as normative and important in areas like sports, finances, families and careers, but preparation often takes a back seat in our spiritual lives. Many people think along the lines of the old Nike commercials, Just Do It!
This past Sunday we talked about the danger of spiritually “just doing it” without properly preparing. Key to spiritual preparation is learning, studying and hearing the Word of God. For example, we sort of think we understand that God wants us to do “good things” for others. But, what are “good things” according to the Scriptures? Who should we do these “good things to? Should we try to point to Christ when we do these “good things,” or let them speak for themselves? Does God already have “good things” prepared for us to do? Does being nice to others qualify as “doing good things”?
These questions can’t be answered by simply “winging it!” If we decided to do “good things” without preparation, our “good things” will most certainly lack God’s direction and lack God’s power.
In our DOTW Discipleship Groups, we dedicate a whole month to preparation, planning, and seeking the Holy Spirit’s direction. But we also set aside the first week or two of each month to better understand the “good things” that God has done toward us.
During the first two weeks of February, I will use this Personal Development Plan to aid in my preparation for the Work of Mercy of Doing Good. I will write down what my plan and tools are in relation “Doing Good” in light of each Work of Piety. For example, my plan for Searching the Scripture revolves around the study and memorization of Luke 10:25-37 and Romans 12:14-21. And one of the tools that I plan to use (in relation to Romans 12:14-21) is Jay. E. Adams book, How to Overcome Evil. In relation to the Work of Piety of Prayer, my plan is to pray daily for my enemies according to Matthew 5 with the Prayer for Enemies web-site being one of the tools I’m going to use.
Peyton Manning would never claim that preparation takes the place of properly executing on the football field. But he would also never use that as an excuse to not prepare. As Christians, we would certainly never say that hearing, understanding and learning God’s Word takes the place of “doing the word.” But we also don’t want to use that as an excuse to skimp on the preparation.