Training for Godliness

By guest columnist and upper school teacher Stuart Paul

     Is there anything you’re training for? Maybe you’re on the swim team and get up at 5:00 in the morning to get some laps in before school. Maybe you’re learning to write computer code. Maybe you want to be a cage fighter like Kip Dynamite. All of these are things we can train for.


But we can train for other things as well. Are you training to be a video game champion? Are you training to sleep in impressively late on Saturdays? Are you training to binge watch seasons of TV shows on Netflix? To not help out around the house? To be a lazy bum?


Aristotle connected training with excellence: “Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”


Christ Covenant students just had a nice Christmas break. It was even extended a bit because of snow days. It’s good to have a break and recharge. But how many of us used it excellently? What were we repeatedly doing? Was it shaping us into the people of God we’ve been called to be?


People who are very accomplished at their craft typically have worked very hard at becoming so. Many people say they want to excel at different things, but few people prove that desire to be true through their actions. That goes for shredding a guitar, shooting 3-pointers, or nailing a diet. It also goes for godly pursuits.


In 1 Timothy 4, Paul encourages his protege to train himself to be godly. He points out that physical training has some value, but godliness is of ultimate value, benefitting us now and forever. This doesn’t happen by accident or by exposing yourself to Christian environments; it happens through training and habituation. Act. Do. Work. Pursue.


Plenty of people “train” for amusing themselves and not being productive daily. It’s the easy thing to do. Beyond that, some people work hard and see results in areas of some value: physical fitness or proficiency at certain tasks and vocations. However, our goal above all of these temporal things should be to train ourselves to be godly. Excellence is not the perfect decision or act, it’s the hours and days and years of dedication to doing the right thing.


So, what are you training for?