Developing the Habit of Spirit

Habits are methods of behavior each of us develop over the years which we use to help solve problems. Some habits are useful, others are harmful. Unless we periodically analyze our habits to determine whether they are continuing to benefit us, we will unconsciously carry our “bad” habits with us into the future. The key to living a fruitful life is to exchange great habits for the outmoded, dysfunctional ones, and thereby consistently “elevate our game” as we age.

Take cigarette smoking, as an example. You may have started smoking in order to “fit in” with a desired group of friends or because you thought it looked “cool.” As the years went by, though, you may have learned that your chances of developing lung cancer and emphysema increase in direct proportion to the amount you have smoked. As we get older, watching grandchildren grow up and maintaining our health usually becomes more important than satisfying our friends, so we quit the habit of smoking and start walking or doing yoga as an alternative habit.

All of us are remaking and remolding ourselves in order to better satisfy our current needs. That’s necessary and healthy.

What Are Your Spiritual Habits?
When it comes to Spiritual habits, you may have to think long and hard to come up with any at all. You may have been taught that Spiritual things are not important or not useful, or you may have pushed those thoughts to the back of your mind. Now, though, because you understand some of the more practical and useful ways of the Spirit, you may be willing to reconsider those prior notions.

Not to worry! Sometimes starting with a clean slate makes change easier, and growth becomes the path of least resistance.

Consider these Habits
Here is a short list of Spiritual habits which have been meaningful to me:

  1. Live your life truthfully and genuinely. Be yourself, not who others want you to be.
  2. Be open to learning and change.
  3. Treat others with dignity and respect.
  4. Have a hunger to know God better. 
  5. Appreciate the beauty of creation in all things around you.

Be Genuine
Don’t allow hypocrisy to become a part of your life. Determine what principles and values you think are most important, and live by them. Don’t sing hymns in church on Sunday morning, and then badmouth competitors and/or colleagues during the week. God doesn’t appreciate your two-faced attitude, and neither does anyone else.

Be Curious
Look for new ways of thinking, or new answers to old problems. This will require being purposefully bold and courageous, but you can do it! Ask yourself, “How is that old habit of _____________ working out for me? Would things get better if I did it in a new or different way? Would it hurt to try, and see?” Start with small changes; drive home from work by taking a different route. Say “Thank you.” Take a vitamin every day. Not exactly radical, right? The results you get may surprise you!\

Be Respectful of Others
Others need your respect and your encouragement! You may be their only source. They are God’s children, too. They need to be appreciated just like you do. Feed them.

Find the Perfect Mentor
I am not perfect, and never have been. Moreover, I have never met anyone else who is, except God! He is the ideal. Moreover, He knows what you are going through, and was tempted in similar ways without yielding or succumbing. Read about Him, learn His ways. Pattern your life after Him.

Nature Is Awesome
A short walk in the woods on a cool, autumn morning may be all that is necessary to be reminded of God’s miracles which are all around us. The warmth of the sun, the majesty of a blooming flower, the strength and symmetry of a large oak tree, the gracefulness of a deer, the changing clouds, and the silent flow of an every-changing river are just some of the many ways that God makes himself known to us. You have but to observe and appreciate.

God’s creation is fresh every morning. It is just like Christmas morning every day, if you want it to be.

There are many other habits of the Spirit. Use your resourcefulness and ingenuity to discover others that may be more meaningful to you. When you know what habits you desire, the question becomes “How do I use these, apply these, or employ these in my life?” That is the subject of our next discussion. Until then …

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