As a musician, I know that arrangements matter. I remember reading an interview with the guitarist from the Canadian group Blue Rodeo in which he explained that the band’s signature song, “Try,” had once been a lackluster rocker. Their record company had passed on the song, but the band experimented with the tempo. When they slowed “Try” down, it became a soulful ballad—and an obvious hit. The right arrangement made all the difference.

Every musician learns (sometimes the hard way) that making good choices about which notes are played—and how loud and long they are played—is the difference between cacophony and harmony. It’s not just in music that arrangements matter. Event planners, travel agents, florists, and funeral directors will all tell you that making good arrangements is their stock-in-trade.

I wonder, what might it take to have a well-arranged life? I’ve been asking that question, intermittently, but with increasing urgency since I came across author Dallas Willard’s definition of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus in The Spirit of the Disciplines: “The disciple is one who, intent upon becoming Christlike . . . systematically and progressively rearranges his affairs to that end.”

I am interested in becoming more like Christ. I suspect that such a transformation might be the only way to make music out of the cacophony of my thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. But how do I “systematically and progressively rearrange my affairs” to that end?

An Invitation to the Disciplines

Years ago, on a long concert tour, I noticed that our bass player, Dave, was reading a book called Celebration of Discipline. I found the title irritating. ...

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