“Change might not be fast and it isn’t always easy. But with time and effort, almost any habit can be reshaped.” – Charles Duhigg
In the message on Sunday, I referenced a book by Charles Duhigg entitled “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business.” Duhigg studies the science of behavior, focusing particularly on habits. His premise is that in essence, our entire lives can be summed up by our habits, those things we do incessantly, day in and day out. From brushing our teeth, to the places we shop to the way we eat, sleep, work and play, our habits define us. Good habits, done over a long period of time, have incredible results. Bad habits, even little ones, done over a long period of time have the power to destroy us.
It is hard to argue with Duhigg’s assertions. I would suggest that the key to changing your life is to change your habits, but this is easier said than done. In the book, researchers studied people who underwent radical and enduring lifestyle changes and found that the secret nearly always boiled down to what is known as a single keystone habit.
As I mentioned in my sermon on Sunday, a keystone habit is a single habit which, when implemented, has a ripple effect or compounding effect on other areas of life. In other words, we change the most when we change one habit that will ultimately impact other areas of our life. Sounds a lot like the series Small Changes Big Differences, doesn’t it?
As we have said through this whole series, don’t set far flung and overly ambitious goals. I would like to be like the apostle Paul, but that won’t happen this year or even in this decade. Instead, we need to focus on one goal, that if we accomplish over time will have a ripple effect in other areas of our lives. In other words the small steps we take this year should be focused on a keystone habit. Don’t look for quick wins because they don’t bring about lasting change.
OK, Marty, what are the keystone steps in your mind. I will answer that, but if you thought about it for a few minutes you would have probably come up with the same list. Here are the habits which I believe will make a big difference in our lives:
1. Attending church and Northstar group weekly.
2. Spending time with God in His Word and prayer daily.
3. Serving in a weekly ministry.
4. Giving back to God at least 10 percent of my income.
5. Going on a short-term mission trips.
These five habits are so much a part of me I take them for granted. They have shaped who I am and what God has done in my life. However, they didn’t become habits overnight. It took time, in fact years. So, I would suggest you concentrate on number 1 on that list until it becomes a habit. If it is already a habit go on to number two and so on. Do that and I believe your life in several years will be radically different than it is today and bring lasting spiritual growth and change in your life.
1. What are the keystone habits in your life? What should they be? How do those keystone habits intersect with discipline?
2. How would your life be different if you developed the daily habit of reading the Bible?
3. Do you attend Northstar Groups whenever possible? Do you tithe? Do you pray as frequently or as fervently as you would like? How do we develop the discipline to make those things a habit?
4. One of the keystone habits for church members is inviting unchurched members to attend church. Is that a habit of yours? If not, why not?