As a child I always admired artists. Superb vocalists, actors, virtuosos, and stand-up comics touched my heart. To me, there was nothing more fulfilling than the well-executed performance of a Beethoven sonata, a symphony, or a Broadway musical.
As an adult, I've realized even more clearly that to be great at something, even just to be good at something, takes practice.
When the studied accountant has joined a new firm, or the engineer has been assigned a difficult task, there's sometimes the thought that he or she can't do a good enough job. Or that he or she is just flat afraid. Or that someone else is so much better qualified. I know I've felt that way. And because I have, I've learned something: success doesn't come with intense effort and positive thinking alone. It comes with the conscious expression of qualities of God. It comes especially through a willingness to turn to God for help.
Qualities such as sincerity and humility, expressed through understanding God and the way you are related to Him, are indispensable. So much more powerful than mere human achievement, this expression is what spiritual accomplishment is based on. And spiritual accomplishment, in which God becomes more evident, naturally results in better performance.
Often there's the temptation to think that intellectualism and egotism are the very things that will unreservedly push us through the doors of success. But unlike the qualities of God, these attitudes only hold us back. Being egotistical hides one's true status as equal with all God's children, yet individual and distinct. Reliance on human intellect often blinds a person so that he or she neglects to see what is real and important-and so much more obvious to those who are humble and meek. Being sincere, humble, willing to turn to God and follow Him, is being God-directed. Through the expression of Godlike qualities, our steps, our success, our accomplishments, can go forward with less hindrance.
Sound accomplishment comes about in learning to put aside thoughts and actions that are opposed to the goodness and power of God. His power alone allows us to shed fear, leave insecurities, and put doubt behind. His power is seen in prayer, the action of establishing thought (and therefore life) on obedience to His will.
A friend of mine had to attend a series of meetings with people who he thought knew much more than he did. He felt inadequate and afraid. But he also knew that inadequacy and fear did not express his true relation to God. So he prayed with the desire to go through the meetings showing grace and poise. He prayed to be helpful to the others, to benefit them. The night before these meetings began, he read something that helped him. It was written by Mary Baker Eddy, the Founder of the Christian Science Church. She wrote simply, "Sincerity is more successful than genius or talent" (Message to The Mother Church for 1900, p. 9). This comforted my friend because he knew that he was sincere in his desire to learn from these meetings. He began to realize that it didn't matter how intellectually inclined he was or how much talent he had or didn't have. What mattered was his motives. And they were humble. He was able to feel a deeper sense of his unity with God as a result of his prayer. He stopped feeling inadequate and found he was able to contribute to the conference in a way that was beneficial to everyone. His expression of sincerity and humility had led to real accomplishment.
This approach to living has precedence in the life of Christ Jesus, whose sincerity and humility helped him to heal. He turned to God for help. He practiced healing. This healing demonstrated the need to express forgiveness, love, integrity. And although he was healing others, he was also demonstrating the way of salvation.
Whatever your vocation, you, too, can learn to perfect the art of expressing God-given abilities. You can act, as St. Paul advised Titus to act, "In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity" (Titus 2:7). This is practical accomplishment that blesses everyone.