Pick one

Implement one thing. That’s what my friend Becky wrote about. Pick one book, one process, one tool and implement it. (I first published this post a couple years ago but the beginning of the summer seemed like a good time to mention it again.) 

We read lists all the time, 5 things, 6 ways, 10 best. We read a study and another study and another study. We go to a workshop. We make a new commitment.

And then we change.

I understand. I do it all the time myself. As I review the past year, I see many starts and stops, good ideas and inconsistent implementation.

And so I’m curious about Becky’s idea.

IMG_2149.JPGWhat could happen if we picked one short book of the Bible, like James or Galatians or even Philemon and read it until we began to understand it? We read about the culture. We read about the setting. We read about the characters. We read the letter at least once a week, in different translations, perhaps.

What would happen if we conversed with it the way that I do sometimes? If we asked God what he was thinking. If we imagined a conversation with Paul or James. And then, as we had questions about our understanding, we talked to someone else. We talked to commentaries.

We began to think from the inside of the letter.

And every time we thought about jumping to the next 5 best, or the worst thing in the news, we went back to the letter and asked it for a response.

It would be really hard, I think, to sustain our attention. At first. But then we would learn. We would get further in. We would find it easier to read off paper, for example, and find it harder to walk away.

But that sustained conversation with a book is what took me through Nehemiah a few years ago. It’s what helped me with Saint John of the Mall.

I know it’s hard to choose, at least for some of us. But while we are weighing all the options, we are missing what could happen if we simply picked one, and got started.


For more on this idea, look at Spiritual training: Pick one thing and Pick one thing: do it well. And if you haven’t ever read my conversation with Nehemiah, it might be a good read this summer: A Great Work.