You make decisions each day. Make the same decisions often enough and they becomes habits—powerful, God-given gifts to help you walk with God and stay healthy.
Imagine if you had to relearn to tie your shoes, drive a car, or find your way to work each day. God designed our brains to search for and create patterns of efficiency—to move into “autopilot” so that our conscious brain can focus on other choices.
In Charles Duhigg’s book, The Power of Habit, he notes a researcher from Duke University discovered that more than 40 percent of the actions we do each day aren’t decisions—but habits.
All our life, so far as it has definite form, is but a mass of habits. —William James
I have discovered 15 habits that have transformed my spiritual life. They can do the same for you.
15 Habits for Your Spiritual Life
Of course, we could easily include physical habits, like proper eating, sleeping, and exercise. I agree these remain essential to balance. But my list focuses more on habits of mind, heart, and attitude.
- Get up early. Research shows that early risers do more, enjoy better health, earn more, and live happier. But the spiritual benefit comes from time in the “alone zone”—those moments when you spend time alone with God. Even Jesus rose early. It may help for you to think about your morning the night before.
- Journal. The same benefits of journaling on your trip to the Holy Land remain true in life. I have journaled for years and it has given me space to record prayers, quotes, Scriptures, and numerous fodder for my blog posts and books.
- See a flaw, say a prayer. When you see someone’s flaw, take it as God’s cue to pray for him or her (not His permission to judge them). I have found it helpful to bow my head rather than to shake it. After all, wouldn’t you want the same when someone sees your flaws?
- Keep accountable. Accountability encourages you you’re not alone in your struggle; it urges you to do what you really want to do; and it gives you friends to support you and pray for you. I wrote a whole post on this.
- Choose to wait on God instead of pushing your agenda. It may be that He has a better idea. (I wrote a whole book on this.)
- Take the risk to be open with someone—but not with everyone. As Proverbs says, “A man of many friends comes to ruin.” You will probably be betrayed at some point. It’s okay. So was Jesus. It’s worth the risk to be authentic, and, on occasion, to be misunderstood.
- Pull your weight. Never expect a free lunch, special treatment, or a pass on your behavior. Be a model, not a freeloader.
- Give your best every time, and don’t save it for later. Whether it’s at work or an effort at loving someone. There will be more where that came from—so no need to save it. Give it. God provides daily bread.
- Don’t confuse excellence for perfection. One honors God; the other is an idol. Sometimes Jesus forces lack upon us so we’ll trust Him. Fish and loaves are the norm.
- Give others the benefit of the doubt. When in doubt, assume the best rather than the worst. Have a conversation with someone before you evaluate him or her. When in doubt, default to grace.
- See failure as a stepping stone to growth. Determine to learn from your failures—however severe they are—and lean into the grace of God to move forward. God is not done with you. (If He were, He’d take you home.) Giving up after failure shows it’s all about you. But it’s about God. Getting up after failure shows you believe that.
- Have the courage to evaluate yourself. I once had a Sunday School teacher tell me, “I have 22 years of teaching experience.” Actually, he really had 1 year of mediocre experience repeated 22 times. Invite feedback from trusted individuals and take it to heart. Evaluation is the key to progress.
- Be yourself. Otherwise, you won’t last long-term. You’ll burn out. Besides, God made you who you are to serve others in a way only you can.
- Don’t let people’s praise or criticism define you. You’ll get both. But remember, you serve God.
- Don’t shortchange time with your family. If I can borrow a principle from Jesus’ words, “The poor you will always have with you.” The need for work and ministry will always be there, but you will not always have your kids (or your marriage, if you’re not careful). See life in seasons. Your children are your most important disciples.
Tell me what you think: What habits have transformed your life? To leave a comment, just click here.