Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Apprentices For the Lord

Be Apprentices For God!

Leonardo da Vinci showed so much artistic talent as a child that he was enrolled in Italy's finest art school. Once there, instead of being given a brush and told to express himself, he was given a grinder. For several years he was grinding pigments and mixing paint for the more advanced students. It was a slow and tedious method of study as an apprentice. But it was give the most talented students patience, wisdom, technique before giving the student the freedom to wield the brush. 

Da Vinci learned how to properly clean up, how to store paint and stretch and prepare the canvas with glues and gessoes, sand them and let them cure for years. Then when he was ready, he could then copy. For years, Da Vinci copied the masters unable to express himself. Then when he was a master apprentice and knew the painting techniques of his teachers, he was allowed to fill in portions of the teacher's painting carefully following the teacher's style. 

Sometimes painting students would wait ten or fifteen years before they would be allowed to paint what they wanted to, with their own style. 

Young men and women who aspire to be great singers are cautioned to take care of their voice and not sing while young. If they are serious vocal students, they will learn to speak properly so that they won't damage their voices. They will study Italian, French and German. Then when they are between sixteen and eighteen they can begin voice lessons--usually solfeggio (sight reading) and lots and lots of gentle vocal warm ups. 

Even the greatest singers of all time spend a great deal of their practice in silly sounding warm ups. Then they can go onstage and wow the audience with sustained beauty for hours.

Same thing with sports. You practice and learn the game for many years before you perform publicly or with success. 

So then, if in every aspect of our lives we realize that to be good at something we need to patiently and with dedicated discipline hone our God-given talents, why is it in the realm of religion and spirituality this lesson is ignored? Why is it we encourage anyone, even those who are the newest to faith, to get up and give their theological discourse to others? 

I think we as Christians make a very big mistake in doing this. As St. Paul writes in the 12th chapter  of his first letter to the Corinthians,  not all are called to be apostles or teachers. Some Christians are to remain silent until someone asks them why they are Christians (as St. Peter exhorts in I Peter 3:15): "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have."

When a Christian is feeding solely on milk perhaps the church should not allow them to give their public discourse on the meat. They have not yet learned to digest the meat! 

I don't think we are doing our young people or our new Christian converts any favor by putting them out there in public as authorities on the gospel or on theological matters. We need to be discerning.  Our youth should be, absolutely, involved in spreading the gospel but they also need to be first... for many years... grinding the pigments... learning the languages... disciplining themselves, learning to fear the Lord in humble submission before they believe they can speak for God and have any spiritual authority. 

I am aware of the fact that Jesus was twelve when he took on the pharisees in the temple and how Timothy was a very young man when he was appointed bishop. But remember that Jesus didn't start His ministry until He was thirty and that Timothy had known the gospel since he was a boy. Timothy wasn't a new Christian. 

The most talented and gifted new Christians need time to develop their spiritual walk. We need more apprentices for Christ who are willing to walk humbly, obediently before they try and teach others the deeper mysteries of salvation.

No comments: