A Lesson From My Blind Piano Teacher

I played the piano for a number of years. I even played in competition. When I first started playing, I loved it because it was new. Then I began to dislike it because I didn’t like practicing every day. In the beginning, learning notes and scales and time was very interesting but then came practicing the scales and arpeggios and so on. Every now and then I would hear someone play on the radio or in person and I would think to myself how great it was, but I also knew how much they had to practice to be that good. It would motivate me.

“I heard someone say, “If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll get what you’ve got.” It could be rephrased to say, “If you keep neglecting what you need to do, you’ll keep missing what you want.”  – Douglas Rumford

If you’re anything like me, you want more of Jesus. You want to be like the Apostle Paul who wrote in Philippians 3:10 that he wanted to know Jesus so intimately that he would experience the power that rose Jesus from the dead.

I didn’t want to practice those scales just to be good at doing scales, but if I could make those keys leap and produce sounds that would move others as it moved me, then I could be inspirational. If you are one of those pastors who goes through the motions of sermon prep each week and relies on memories and skills taught at seminary, I feel sorry for you. That will only carry you so far. You are neglecting your soul!

I find many pastors are defining their own self worth by how busy they are. Bill Lenz shares about a time when a pastor friend called and Bill told his assistant to tell him he was busy. After he gave those instructions, he became convicted, called his friend back and sheepishly apologize explaining that he lied because he wanted his friend to think he was important by how busy he was. Our sense of self-worth and how it is defined for us makes it even more important to have our souls replenished.

To be a concert level pianist there is no faking. There is no short cut. My piano teacher was blind. She was a brilliant woman who excelled at teaching piano to children. One time, I had not practiced very much on a particular song and when it came my turn to play it for her, the phone rang. She got up to answer the phone and I hurriedly rushed through the song. I will never forget what happened next.  Her call over, she sat down and put her arm around me and said “We need to go back to this measure and then this phrase” and so forth. She knew exactly where I tried to skip over and sneak the piece past her.

If we really want to be godly spiritual men and women for the kingdom, we can’t cut short our personal time alone with God. In a world of “soul neglect” or as Haddon Robinson puts it, “curvature of the soul,” God’s presence and power can transform us through the ordinary yet timeless “exercise” of our mind and hearts.

If you are feeling guilty about now, that is a good thing. Douglas Rumford reminds us, “Guilt is meant to drive us into the arms of mercy. Psalm 51, the sister of Psalm 32, show us the ointment of grace applied to the self-inflicted wounds of sin. When we run to God’s mercy, our guilt is removed and the healing begins.”

One of our core values at Cornerstone Church Network is that we care about the spiritual vitality of the pastors we serve. That’s why we formed a partnership with Leadership Transformations to offer Soul Care retreats at a reduced premium for pastors. We don’t care how “successful” you may appear on the outside. If your soul is not being replenished and revitalized you need help. And we want to help you.

My piano teacher wanted to help me, not make me feel guilty. She knew the potential within me. If she had let me get by with that piece, there is no telling what I may have tried the next time. You cannot short-cut God. He wants to talk to you, to love on you and help you become more Christ like. He wants to see you transformed and lead others to do the same.

What is shaping your heart these days?


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