Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about habits. This direction began with a podcast—The Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast. On his podcast, Pastor Craig Groeschel interviewed James Clear, author of Atomic Habits. Originally I listened to the podcast simply as a way to grow in my leadership. However, that podcast has taken me on a journey researching and investigating the power of habit.
After listening to this podcast, I picked up Clear’s book and quickly read it. I then picked up another book, Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit and now I’m reading one more—Drew Dyck’s Your Future Self Will Thank You. After engaging all of these resources, my thinking shifted from leadership to spiritual growth. This shift in thinking led me to even adjust Vintage Church’s summer preaching series. Why this shift?
Why We’re Not Happy with Where We Are
If you’re honest with yourself, there’s probably an area of life that you’re currently not happy with. Whether it’s your health, finances, marriage, spiritual growth, or some other area, you recognize that you need to make some changes. The challenge is that we treat these areas like New Year’s Resolutions, and you know what happens with New Year’s Resolutions—they FAIL! So how do you actually bring positive change in these areas that need improvement. The answer isn’t just to make it a goal; you have to do more.
In Atomic Habits, James Clear lays out the process for forming habits, both positive or negative habits. If you want to make something a habit you have to (1) Make It Obvious (cue), (2) Make It Attractive (Craving), (3) Make It Easy (Response), and (4) Make It Satisfying (Reward). Think about an area in your life you want to change. That change will not come accidentally. Instead it requires intentionality. We’re not happy with where we are because we’ve not been intentional to change where we are. To bring change in our lives we must end bad habits and begin new habits.
The Power of Habits in Spiritual Growth
In Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habits, he discusses keystone habits. Keystone habits are fundamental and foundational habits. These habits are what spark other positive habits. As I’ve thought about habits, I’ve thought about Vintage Church. Throughout the years, I’ve met and counseled so many people who want lasting, spiritual change in their lives. They recognize that they need to grow in their faith, they begin to take pro-active steps, but sadly falter. Over time, they stop attending weekly worship at Vintage, leave biblical community, and slowly go back into their bad habits. Why do they fall back into their bad habits? I believe they fall back and fail to grow spiritually because they fail to inhabit four Christian habits.
These habits are often known as Spiritual Disciplines, and while countless disciplines exist, I believe all the disciplines can be narrowed into four key spiritual disciplines: Worship, Bible Intake, Prayer, and Community. If we want to see spiritual growth in our lives then we must engage these four key spiritual disciplines, or habits. No, the spiritual disciplines are not magical; however, these key habits produce change in our lives when we participate in them consistently over an extended period of time. The goal of the Christian life is to be like Jesus, and therefore, we all should not be happy with where we are. If we want to grow, we have to build these keystone habits, these spiritual disciplines, into our lives. I challenge you: Look at your life. What do you need to stop? What do you need to start? Whatever it is, make it obvious, make it attractive, make it easy, and make it satisfying. Start today.