Practice what’s in your heart…


“Success seeks to please men, but excellence seeks to please God.”- Christopher Parkening

Christopher Parkening is widely known as heir to the legacy of guitar virtuoso Andres Segovia. At an early age he showed a natural proficency at the guitar. His parents would wake him at 5:00am each morning to practice before school. At fifteen, he was invited to attend master classes with Segovia, who encouraged him to “work hard” that he had great potential. At nineteen, Parkening was signed to the classical division of Capitol Records and became a touring artist through Columbia Artist Management. Early on, despite technically excelling at the instrument,  Parkening’s aim in life was to simply “make a lot of money, retire early and enjoy the good life” which for him meant a ranch and fly fishing in Montana. 10 years later at the age of 30, Parkening called his agent and record label and told them he was quitting. He retired to his Montana ranch, a rich man known for his excellence at an instrument. For four years, Parkening fished. And grew completely miserable.

Even though Parkening excelled at his craft through diligent practice, the soul of his art was lost to him. In his perfect life, Parkening only found a profound emptiness. He discovered not playing was not what he really wanted after all. Parkening became reborn, and the instrument he practiced became more than a way to make money. It became a way to seek peace within himself and spread the true meaning of delivering a gift of spirit to an audience.

Theologian and pastor, J. Hamton Keithly said that excellence should not be about one’s own glory or significance for the praise or applause of men. Instead excellence should be the highest form of praise, thanksgiving and gratefulness to the spirit that dwells inside you. Match your practice with your potential and you’ll discover excellence lies within, not without. “The kingdom of God comes not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” The book of Luke is very clear about source and where it truly lies.

J.S. Bach said, “The aim and final reason of all music is none else but the glory of God.” Bach signed many of his compositions with the initials S.D.G., Soli Deo Gloria (to God alone the glory).

Practice your instrument with diligent patience but don’t forget to practice in other areas of your life.Practice making meaningful coincidences. Practice being ethical and kind.  Practice cheerfulness in the face of adversity. Practice charity when you’re down to the last dollar in your pocket. Practice hopefulness and smiling when you don’t really feel like it.

Aristotle professed, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore is not an act but a habit.” You can’t just practice what’s under your fingers. Practice what’s in your heart.

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