Walking the line between nerd and cool.

Chuck Norris and the Karate Kid: Mastering Spiritual Disciplines

When reflecting on my favorite part laptop cover from the Jesus Loves Nerds post I wrote yesterday, I decided that my runner-up for best tidbit on the laptop cover was a joke about Chuck Norris. I’m not sure if you’ve heard of Chuck Norris jokes or not. It’s a common internet meme and popular culture phenomenon. Here are a few to give you a taste:

  • Fear of spiders is arachnophobia, fear of tight spaces is claustrophobia, fear of Chuck Norris is called Logic.
  • When Alexander Bell invented the telephone, he had 3 missed calls from Chuck Norris.
  • Chuck Norris has already been to Mars. That’s why there’s no signs of life.
  • Chuck Norris can win a game of Connect Four in only three moves.
  • Some people wear Superman pajamas. Superman wears Chuck Norris pajamas.

Some of the jokes are really funny. Nearly every Chuck Norris joke makes me chuckle. But there’s a problem with these jokes and Hollywood films like the Karate Kid (and so many others). We laugh about Chuck Norris’ super powers. We cheer for Daniel Russo when he wins the All Valley Karate Championship. But Chuck Norris doesn’t really have super powers (though he is super cool). And Daniel Russo never would have won that karate championship. You can’t train for a few weeks or even months and beat kids that have been training their whole life.

While writing that post, I came across a blog post about why Chuck Norris jokes are dangerous. The author writes:

Unfortunately, I think a lot of us believe that we should instantly be great at something when we first try it. Or if not instantly, we should, in a matter of weeks, begin mastering the skills. Instead, Malcolm Gladwell argues in his (excellent) book Outliers that true mastery takes about 10,000 hours. TEN. THOUSAND. HOURS.

10,000 hours. That’s a lot of time. It’s almost 14 months actually. Later in the article, she referenced an article by David Wong (How the Karate Kid Ruined the Modern World) that talks about “Effort Shock.” The relevant portion of the article:

We have a vague idea in our head of the “price” of certain accomplishments, how difficult it should be to get a degree, or succeed at a job, or stay in shape, or raise a kid, or build a house. And that vague idea is almost always catastrophically wrong.

Guess what? Mastering spiritual disciplines like Prayer, Giving, Serving and Reading the Bible are hard work. It’s going to take a while. And you’ll probably have “Effort Shock” once you get into it. In fact, you’ve probably already experienced it. Maybe you thought reading the Bible or praying would be easier than it is. But it’s not. It’s hard work. It’s a long, slow journey, not a quick fix.There are distractions, pitfalls, obstacles. The devil will do everything he can to stop us from mastering the spiritual disciplines.

Thankfully, we’re not working alone at it. God Himself is with us.

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