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10 Aug '12

Disciplines, Habits and Lifestyle

Posted by T.J. Addington in habits, Intentional living
The concept of "discipline" in our lives evokes various responses but for many it is not an overwhelmingly positive concept. I prefer the concept of "disciplined practices" of those activities that will lead to  the kind of lifestyle that I believe Jesus will be happy with. We either live accidentally or intentionally and there is no intentionality without a set of disciplined practices.

The value of well thought out disciplined practices is that over time they become habits. Habits can be our ally in living a Christ centered life. King David had the disciplined practice of praying in the morning and the evening. It became a habit and you see it reflected in numerous Psalms. His disciplined practice of memorizing God's word became a habit which is also reflected in the Psalms. These habits that lead to a God honoring life start with a decision to a certain discipline and rhythm in our lives which practiced long enough become instinctual.

Many Christ followers wonder why they don't make more traction in their Christian life. Often, it is because they have not considered the intentionality of healthy practices that become habits and which in turn become our lifestyle. Doing something often enough - good or bad- actually rewires the connections in our brain to make the practice habitual. It is our brains way of operating in a lean fashion. It can work for us or against us. In unhealthy addictions it works against us. In developing healthy practices - which takes intentional effort on our part - it works for us.

In his writings, the Apostle Paul talks about old habits and practices that need to be discarded and new habits and practices that need to be put on. With the help of the Holy Spirit and our own discipline we can indeed do that. But it does not happen by itself - it happens when we focus on disciplined practices long enough that they become habitual and which in turn inbed those healthy practices into our lifestyle. 

Think about the habits of your life. Which of them are contributing to your followership of Jesus and which of them are distracting or even undermining that followership. Then ask the question: What disciplined practices would change the equation of they became habits and then became part of your lifestyle?