For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God….And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him….Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. (Colossians 3:3,17, 23-24)
In the past few weeks, I’ve made the case for why Christians should focus on pursuing mastery of one thing at a time vocationally and what we should be looking for in our “one thing.” Today, we’ll take a glimpse at how you can achieve mastery of your craft for the glory of God and the good of others.
In my team’s extensive research for my new book, Master of One, three keys to mastering any vocation came up time and time again.
Key #1: Apprenticeships
In James 4:6, we are told that “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” The Lord’s faithfulness to this promise shone through vividly in our research. More than any other quality, humility marked the stories of every Christ-following master I interviewed.
Once we have found the work we are going to sink our teeth into, it is of the utmost importance that we humble ourselves and seek out the mentorship of others who are already masters in our chosen field.
Key #2: Purposeful Practice
It is well known that master performers in any field spend thousands of hours practicing their crafts. But here’s what’s less known—it is only what researchers refer to as “purposeful practice” over long periods of time that leads to mastery.
Purposeful practice is characterized by four things: specific goals, intense focus, frequent discomfort, and perhaps most importantly, rapid feedback.
As Proverbs 12:15 says, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.” For the Christian, the purpose of mastery isn’t our own fame and fortune. We pursue mastery primarily for the glory of God and the good of others. And it is simply impossible to know if we are loving and serving others well through our work if we aren’t regularly seeking their advice and feedback.
Key #3: Discipline Over Time
To become truly masterful at any vocation, you must have the discipline to spend thousands of hours purposefully practicing that craft. This is why it is so important to take the proper time to explore many different career opportunities before choosing to commit to any one. Because it’s not enough to make a choice. In order to do our most masterful work for the glory of God and the good of others, we must find one vocational thing worth staying committed to over a significant period of time. As Scripture reminds us time and time again, nothing but “diligent hands will rule” (Proverbs 12:24).