Walking with God is a habit.
That’s a stand alone statement, and it has become more and more clear to me over the past months. We want to make it an experience, a love story, a moment in time . And walking with God is all those things, but mainly it is day after day effort. I’ve written about how to hear God. I’ve shared how to understand the Bible. What I’ve written is true, but it goes back to building those habits in our lives.
Over the last couple of years I’ve been unintentionally learning about psychological and physiological reasons we build habits. I’m going to share those with you over the next few weeks – one habit hint at a time. These hints are a combination of the things I’ve learned from others, and how they have played out in my own life.
Here are three habit hints I’ll share (and may add to in the coming weeks and months):
- Who Before Do
- The 2 Minute Commit
- Treat Yo’Self
If you are really interested in learning more about building habits, I encourage you to dive into this deeper yourself. Here are three treat resources to begin with:
- Atomic Habits by James Clear
- The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
- The Power to Change by Craig Groschel
For now, you can dip your toes in the water. Today, we begin with habit hint one — “Who Before Do”
You are a human being.
In my Christian Living college class (nearly 30 years ago), my professor would repeat this phrase class after class:
“You are a human being, not a human doing.”Dr. Larry Fine
I’ll be honest, I thought I understood what he meant, but I never really did. In fact, it seems the truth behind his words continue to open up to me over the years. I’ll put it into my words what I understand his statement to mean:
Everything I do flows out of who I am.
The Apostle Paul agrees. In several of his letters, he used a similar structure. In Ephesians, Romans, Galatians, Colossians he begins by defining who we are in Christ, and then after he has established this fact, Paul encourages us to act differently.
For instance, in the book of Ephesians, Paul begins by writing about how we are God’s adopted children, and we are blessed with a divine inheritance. Paul ends the first chapter by thanking God for this blessing. Paul opens the next chapter with how Jesus’ work on the cross made us truly alive, and that this gift is available to everyone. He continues in the third chapter how God has a plan for you and me — to reveal the mystery of the gospel. Paul ends the chapter with another prayer asking that we would be blessed the power of the Holy Spirit.
It’s not until the fourth chapter that Paul begins to address how we should live with a brief outline of standards and relationship expectations. Finally, in chapter six, Paul ends with practical steps to take to live the life he’s challenged us to live.
Here is Paul’s message in a nutshell: Everything you do flows out of who you are. You live like Jesus when you understand who you are as a follower of Jesus.
So, let’s be practical with this habit hint.
Habit 1: The WHO or DO?
As followers of Jesus, we know we need to read the Bible. It’s a habit we should have in our lives. So, we determine to get up 30 minutes early every morning to read a couple chapters of the Bible, pray and possibly meditate.
In other words, we start with the do.
The problem is you not see yourself as that person. “Get up to read the Bible” guy isn’t who you are. You say to yourself, “I’m not a person who reads the Bible. I’ve never been a person who reads the Bible. I’ll probably never be a person who reads the Bible.” So you try to create a habit in your life that doesn’t align with who you are.
Instead of starting with the do, you need to see yourself as a person who who reads the Bible. How do you do this? How do you begin to see yourself as the type of person who had the habit of reading the Bible?
WHO: I want to be known by God.
In the book of John, Jesus encounters a crowd at the Temple in Jerusalem. In the crowd was a group who wanted an answer to the question, “Are you the Messiah?” Jesus response was simple, “I’ve already answered this question, but you haven’t believed me.” Then he says,
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27 NLT
When we hear God, we are known by God. This is who we want to be. When we follow Jesus, we want to be known by God. This is the “who”.
Now work backwards. To be a person who is known by God, what do you need to do? First and foremost, you need to hear from God. So how do you hear God? There are a lot of ways, but here are three primary ways to hear God:
- We hear God through other people.
- We hear God through spiritual experiences.
- We hear God through reading, praying, meditating and contemplating on Scripture.
Now, to align with the picture you have of yourself – a person who is known by God, you know the habits you need to begin building:
- Relationships with people who know and hear God.
- Regular church attendance.
- Daily personal devotions.
We hear God in multiple different ways, but mature followers of Jesus hear God through the daily habit of reading and meditating on Scripture.
This is what it means to put the who before the do, or to let everything you do flow from who you are.