Monday, December 19, 2011

Created to Habituate

Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being (Gen 2:7).

Can you believe it's almost shutters on 2011? We have come to that time of year when many begin to reassess their life-patterns and even make one or two of those pesky resolutions. I've never been a fan of that particular New Year's ritual, but I like considering how to habituate better activities (in hopes that considering will one day lead to doing).

As Lionel Windsor points out, we are "creatures of habit," because we are, well, creatures:
We all develop habits, because we are creatures. That common expression, ‘creatures of habit’, points to an important truth. Habits are an aspect of the way God has made us, as creatures who live in his good creation. God has created us from the ‘dust of the ground’ (Gen 2:7). He’s placed us in time and in space. He’s given us minds and bodies that are suited to this world; we respond to familiarity, regularity, cycles and seasons. Because of this, we’re all constantly forming habits—often without even realising it. Our habits are a key part of our character, of who we are; and so they are closely bound up with our decisions and our desires. Even our seemingly spontaneous decisions are highly influenced by our character and habits.
Windsor continues by offering 13 tips for developing habits:
  1. Motivate yourself by preaching to yourself the gospel of grace.
  2. The ultimate goal in developing a particular habit is coming to the point where you love to do it.
  3. Realise, though, that the goal I mentioned in the previous point (to love what you’re doing) will probably take a very long time to develop.
  4. Don’t be a hero—you’ll only set yourself up for failure.
  5. The flipside of the previous point is to start small.
  6. Start now. Just do it.
  7. Think creatively about ways to fit your habits into your life circumstances.
  8. Learn from the habits of others, but don’t follow them slavishly.
  9. When it comes to habits, simple regularity is much better than sporadic brilliance [that is gold, my friends].
  10. Make your habit-developing plans simple.
  11. Develop the super-habit of regularly reviewing your habits!
  12. Use the relatively good or easy times in your life to work hard at developing your habits. When the hard times come, and/or when life changes, you’ll have spiritual resources to use.
  13. I said it at the start of the list, and I’ll say it again at the end: keep coming back to God’s grace.
I know this is good counsel from personal (mostly, failed) experience. One more gem from his article:
In war (I’ve been told), very little time is spent waging glorious battles and smiting the enemy. Most of the time, warfare is about training, preparing and honing skills. The effectiveness of a soldier is only as good as his habits: his reflexive reactions developed through constant, repetitive training. The same applies to spiritual warfare. Our main task in spiritual warfare is to get prepared: to put on the “armour” of truth, righteousness, the readiness of the gospel of peace, faith, salvation and the word of God through prayer (Eph 6:10-18). Putting on this armour is, in large part, about developing good habits.
Read all of Creatures of Habit, because the more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in battle.

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