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A Keystone Habit for 2016

Creatures of Habit by Alpha via Flickr
Photo by Alpha via Flickr

Her name was Lisa Allen. She had started to smoke and drink by 16, she struggled with obesity, in her twenties she was heavily in debt and couldn’t hold a job. Then things changed. She quit smoking, began exercising, lost 60 lbs, ran a marathon, completed a master’s degree and bought a house. Wow! What happened?

Charles Duhigg tells of this amazing turnaround in his book The Power of Habit. There he explains that Lisa had become convinced she needed to quit smoking. She replaced it with jogging. That change set off other changes concerning how she ate, worked, and slept. Habits that have a cascading impact on our lives are known as “keystone habits”. Those critical habits are not always easily identified, but researchers consider exercise, eating together as a family, and making your bed in the morning as keystone habits.

Spending honest time with God, listening, learning and even lamenting (I needed another ‘L’ word) is a spiritual keystone habit. It is by real communion and sincere reflection that we hear God’s Word to us and are thereby equipped to build our lives on a firm foundation. We become people who have the mind of Christ and know how to conduct ourselves as Jesus would, if He were living our lives. We are granted wisdom from above for both the good times and those times when shadows cover our way.

Discipleship Journal's Bible Reading PlanScripture is a gift from God to affirm us and to correct us. Meaningful interaction with Scripture is chiefly how we come to hear God’s Word and become equipped to handle life. If regularly reflecting on Scripture is new to you, then I would recommend the Discipleship Journal’s 5x5x5 Bible Reading Plan. This plan is within the reach of most, requiring less than 10 minutes of reading five days a week.

It is important when seeking to establish a new habit, like regular reflection on Scripture, that you begin with small, attainable goals first. Early success will encourage you to continue growing in a new habit. However, if you try to accomplish too much too soon, early failures will sink your ship.

For those who are already interacting with Scripture regularly, there are numerous plans to ensure a freshness in method as you seek to hear God’s Word for your life situation. Ligonier Ministries has compiled a helpful list of various Bible reading plans.

I would love to hear in the comments what helps you maintain a regular connect time with God.

Other Resources

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2 Comments

  1. When I was in university, I joined a Christian leadership/training group where we meet at 5:00 AM everyday at the university’s golf course to sing worship songs and meditate on God’s word together for 1 hour. For 4 years I have been attending this group. It was difficult at first because I don’t like to get up early in the morning and our campus is located 3,500 feet above sea level (it is “cold” in the morning). But the group provided us with some “incentives” and since I needed the incentives to continue with my studies, I forced myself to go everyday. After few months, attending the “morning service” became less of a burden until it became an exciting thing to look forward to everyday. The morning services taught me a lot of things in life, developed attitudes in me that I am unaware of and completing my degree from a “hostile” environment wasn’t too difficult for me (curfew at 6 PM everyday due to security reasons except during Ramadan, not saying a word which may offend the “locals”, wearing clothes that covers the body and won’t show skin). I haven’t heard of the term keystone habits when I was a student but now I consider the morning services as a keystone habit because it does have cascading impact in my life.

    May our daily devotions become a keystone habit which will have cascading impact in our journey with God and with others. It will take a commitment to start the habit and yes, there will be incentives associated with such habit.

    • Hi Joy,

      You talked about how you began to look forward to the “morning services”. That can happen for all of us that spend honest, reflective and unhurried time with God. He will speak into our lives and we will be richer for it. When that begins to be our experience this habit will have its own motivation and we won’t have to work so hard to engage in it.

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