December 3, 2011

One At a Time

In life, I'm forever looking for that magic formula, that one hope that will guarantee success in parenting, in spiritual disciplines, in marriage, in friendship, and in ministry. Put a coin in the vending machine. Pull a lever. Push a button. 1+1=2, the formula that churns out little disciples of Jesus, like an assembly line at a manufacturing plant.

Really, I just want instant. I want results without time, faithfulness, and consistency.  I want it all, and I want it now.

Seth Godin, a marketing and business guru, says this:
Products and services succeed one person at a time, as the word slowly spreads. Customers defect one person at a time, as hearts are broken and people are disappointed. Doors open, sure, but not all at once. One at a time. 
One at a time is a little anticlimactic and difficult to get in a froth over, but one at a time is how we win and how we lose. 
I'm more concerned about the hearts of my children, the state of my marriage, the fruitfulness of my ministry, and my own spiritual condition than products, services, and customers, but the principle remains the same. Mature and healthy and faithful and fruitful don't happen in an instant. Mature and healthy and faithful and fruitful happen one at a time. Eugene Peterson calls this a "long obedience in the same direction."

One day at a time.

One hour at a time.

One act of service at a time.

One word at a time.

One prayer at a time.

One relationship at a time.

Those one at a times add up to a childhood or a lifetime marriage or a wise woman or an impactful ministry.

Those one at a times matter, for, in the end, they are how we win and how we lose.