Habits. Their importance to the lives of both believers and non-believers can hardly be overstated. In his book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens”, Sean Covey states that “we become what we repeatedly do.” In other words, who we are today and who we will become tomorrow is determined by those habits we have formed in the past, as well as those habits we resolve to cultivate in the present. Every single one of us is a mixture of good and bad habits, many of which we have formed without even realizing it. But what are habits?
According to Braco Pobric, “Habits are rituals and behaviors that we perform automatically, allowing us to carry out essential activities… without thinking about them.” (https://bit.ly/2Bufnum) In much the same way that industry leaders have freed up the minds of many human workers through the implementation of machinery to perform monotonous functions, habits allow us to automate a large portion of our lives in order to free up our minds so that we can focus on other, more important things. A study conducted at Duke University suggests that around 40% of the activities we engage in on a daily basis can be boiled down to the different habits we have formed. Therefore, nearly half of the time we spend awake every day, we spend performing habits. It is no wonder, then, that Stephen Covey asserts that “our habits will either make us or break us.” Habits have the potential to enable us to lead highly successful lives characterized by productivity, but if we are not intentional in training ourselves up in good habits, they also have the potential to render our lives completely useless.
Believers and non-believers alike recognize the importance of building and maintaining positive habits. Our motivation behind doing so, however, differs greatly. Those working out of a secular worldview will often seek to optimize their habits and increase their productivity out of personal ambition. As Christians, while it should be our desire to more effectively harness our habits, we should seek to do so for a different reason: to better honor, glorify, and serve our Savior and King, Jesus Christ. In everything we do, including the habits we allow ourselves to form, we ought to ask ourselves how we might better achieve the aim of becoming more like Christ, ridding ourselves of the old self, with all of its sinful nature and ungodly habits, and putting on the new self. Bearing that in mind, what are some different habits we should seek to form as believers?
The Habit of Reading Scripture
First and foremost, we should seek to develop the habit of getting into God’s Word on a daily basis. It is impossible, after all, to become more like Christ if we don’t know what that looks like. The non-believer may regard this habit as a waste of time, but to the believer, there is no discipline more vital to establish than that of reading the very words of God Himself regularly and attentively.
The Habit of Prayer
Whereas the habit of reading Scripture is essential in order for us to discover what God expects of us as His children, prayer allows us to respond to what God is teaching us. Many believers (myself included) struggle to make prayer a habit, tending to resort to it more erratically. I believe, however, that when we devote intentional time each day in prayer to God, the difference in our attitude and in the way we interact with others is nearly immeasurable.
The Habit of Gratitude
While this ties quite substantially into the previous habit of prayer, I really feel that it’s important to stress the importance of developing the habit of gratitude. I try to start off each day by thanking God for some of the different blessings he’s given me in my life, and I can always tell the difference on the days I do this from those days that I forget this simple, but extremely effective and impactful habit.
The Habit of Service
Finally, developing the habit of constantly looking for opportunities to serve others is imperative if we really want to follow the model of Jesus. Get into the habit of searching for ways you can be a blessing to those around you – whether that be by holding the door open for an elderly person or taking the trash out without your parents asking. Follow the example of the greatest Servant who ever lived: Jesus Christ.
Live It Out
There are many other habits that I could recommend to believers with a desire to increase their productivity, but I will leave you with these four for now, for they are by far those habits of greatest importance. In conclusion, I will say this: be intentional in the habits you form today, for they will determine the type of person you will become tomorrow.
“Sow a thought, and you reap an act; sow an act, and you reap a habit; sow a habit, and you reap a character; sow a character, and you reap a destiny.” – Samuel Smiles