Monday, January 18, 2010

Forming habits

As I enter the 'reading program' of my Sabbatical, I am beginning with a focus on self-discipline and character formation. No one can lead others who cannot lead himself.

Today I started reading The Power of Focus (by the authors of the 'Chicken Soup for the Soul' series). I was directed to think about 'habits'.

Our lives and character are the outworking of our habits: My relationship with my wife and kids in ten years will be the outworking of my relational habits today (do I take time with them? am I critical or kind?)... My health and fitness in ten years will be determined by my eating and exercise habits today... My financial condition will reflect my money habits today. (If I'm not in the habit of saving now, I'll be broke later.... )

In terms of leadership and ministry, my habits now will lead either to effectiveness or to ineffectiveness. Therefore, my habits ought to be reflective of what I value most. For example, long ago I decided that (for me, at least) effective pastoring means three main things:
1. Know God.
2. Preach the Bible well.
3. Love and lead the leaders.
If I truly think this is so, I will cultivate habits that foster these things, and change current habits that hinder them. My habits of sermon study and prep will be good habits, and habits of distraction or procrastination will be addressed. I will make a habit of connecting with leaders, and praying for them. And so on....

The good news is that in this - and any area of life - habits can be changed.
Key: don't make a list of ten habits and launch them all at once. Prioritize them, and start one every three months. That's four a year, twenty new habits in five years. Imagine the transformation!

Project: In ten years, what do I want to be my 'new normal' in ministry, in my family, and in my own person? What habits can I begin to cultivate to move me toward that? What currently unhealthy habits should I change: (too much TV? no exercise? critical comments?sleeping in?...)

Because a good leader - in a church, in a family - can only be a person who habitually orders his life around what matters most.

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