A tool is only as productive as the hand which uses it. A young artist who studied under a great master begged to use his master’s brush so he might be able to paint better. When he received permission to use the brush, he went back to his own painting, confident he would see improvement.

A short time later, the artist returned with the brush, disappointed that it didn’t help him do any better with his work than before. An assistant in the studio overheard the artist as he complained and told him, “Friend, it is not the master’s brush you need, but the master’s devotion, the master’s spirit.”

Many Christians find themselves discouraged as they compare themselves with spiritual giants: “If I only had George Müeller’s prayer life, I would be able to see God provide for more of my needs.” “If I only had Charles Spurgeon’s preaching ability, then I would have a more effective ministry.” “If I could only write like David, then I would be a better spiritual influence on others.”

The problem with this wishful thinking is it isn’t based on reality. We don’t know what kind of difficulties the spiritual giants had to go through before they could reach their level of maturity. Their hardships produced the discipline and determination they needed to become successful, not their tools. The artist’s brush, the preacher’s voice, the musician’s instrument, the saint’s prayer life — these are exceptional only because they worked hard to master them.

Anything you do for Christ can be exceptional, too, but you have to work at it. Whether you are trying to become an effective youth worker, a better soul-winner, or a spiritual leader in your home, it will take time and effort to master these things. Don’t waste any time. Get started right away.

Devotional by Dr. James A. Scudder