< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: Good to Great Chapter 10 - Develop Great Habits - Part 2

Friday, February 26, 2010

Good to Great Chapter 10 - Develop Great Habits - Part 2

Here are the 6 habits that help cultivate our experience of grace.

1. Put God first.

Matthew 6:33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Develop the habit of giving God the first portion and the best part of your day. It doesn’t have to be first thing in the morning, but it has to be consistent and a priority. Lots of people choose early morning because there’s no interference, so they know they’ll get it done and also they are fresh. Whenever we can do it consistently and without interruptions is more important then when. Also attitude trumps it all – what drives us to spending time with God. Psalm 42:1-2 As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?

Great Christians thirst for God. People find a way to prioritize what matters to them. At first doing it might seem like a duty, but will become a delight with the right attitude.

2. Take out the Trash

Romans 12:2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

We need to get the trash out of our lives. All of the world’s ideas and values that go against God’s. Get rid of them and then allow God’s world to renew and transform us. The word Paul used in the Bible that translates to transform is the same as was used for the transfiguration of Jesus. Grammatically this command is in the passive voice. God does it, but we allow it. We let our minds be transformed from the inside out so we can be people who prove and experience the will of God. Our lifestyle begins to demonstrate God’s will: that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Chip says that spiritually some Christians have their minds filled with so much garbage that it doesn’t seem like garbage anymore. Their lives never change and they can’t figure out why.

God has told us what’s right and true. We don’t need to “try to figure it out” it’s there in black and white. We just need to do it! Also if we don’t quench the Holy Spirit He’ll lead us by our conscience in the right direction. But, if we don’t do this the things of the world will seem normal to us. That’s why the divorce rate is pretty much the same between Christians and non-Christians. Why some Christians still view pornography, why some are heavily in debt or lie or cheat. Little by little they are being transformed to the world instead of the image of Christ. We need to stop and really look at what’s going on in our lives. What’s right and what’s wrong; and completely turn our backs on the wrong. Whatever it takes.

The point of Romans 12:1-2 isn’t to condemn, but to bless us with the experience of God’s perfect will by the renewing of our minds.

3. Do your own dishes

Responsibility. It takes the blame off of other people and forces us to be accountable for our own mess. We are a society of people who make excuses. It’s always someone else’s fault. Chip gives the example of moms who are always picking up after their families: kids leaving dirty dishes in the sink and the moms washing them thinking, “I don’t think they realize how each of their actions affect my day, do they think there’s a dishwashing fairy who’s going to do this?” It becomes a habit that we expect someone else to clean up our mess. But behind that habit is an assumption that it’s up to someone else to make our life work.

Jesus said in Luke 16:10 Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. The point is that personal responsibility extends to even the smallest detail. Until we learn to own up to our obligations, we won’t be faithful in the larger issues of the kingdom of God. And Great Christians do for others too. We pick up their messes. We leave things better than we found them. He said this also helps with marital or other relationship problems. When you change your clothes you hang them up. When you get something out you put it back. And it starts with habit.

4. Write it Down

The principle of clarity can be found in the Bible. We all have dreams, plans and purposes embedded in our hearts. Many people never do anything with them, but an understanding person draws them out. God uses this to ask the probing questions and provide insight. Chip says sometimes godly people aren’t available when we need to figure something out and that’s when he journals. Writing your thoughts down, expressing your goals and feelings helps you work through it all.

This is after you put God first, get the garbage out and take responsibility. This is how you start to proactively move forward.

Chip personally uses 3x5 index cards and writes a clear goal on each one. And he pulls them out and reads them every morning and night for a month. Then 2 or 3 times a week after that. He says you begin to gravitate toward those things. That’s the way our mind works: when our goals are clear we begin to notice all kinds of things that relate to our goal. They’ve always been there, we just hadn’t thought about them before. From the index cards though you have to move to your calendar. If you want to be a great parent you have to block out time on your calendar to spend time with your kids. To be physically fit you have to block out gym time or jogging time.

He also said while we never get our to-do lists done they are important in helping us focus. He even suggested putting a star by the essentials, which I liked because it’s something I’ve always done. He says the to-do list can be a spiritual tool in choosing our priorities, asking God to help us with getting them done and then thanking Him when they are. Another way of drawing God into every part of our life.

One idea he suggested is writing your prayers – journaling. It keeps you much more focused then just saying them.

5. Do it now

Most things don’t get done because we never start them. We can’t discipline our kids “later.” We can’t pay our bills “later” – unless we don’t mind getting late fees or our water turned off! It also helps to get the hard things done first so they don’t hang over your head all day. When things pile up it takes away your energy and your motivation to do them and even depresses you.

6. Turn it off

Keep Sabbath. Take a break and rest.

So to tie all this up, Chip suggests we chose a bad habit, write it down and ask God to help us break it. Then ask God which of the 6 good ones we’ve just listed He wants you to work on first. Then find someone to help keep you accountable. Come up with a plan and do it – to become a Great Christian.

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