June 25, 2019
In his book The Power of Habit, author Charles Duhigg cites a paper published in 2006 by Duke University. In this paper, researchers had found that more than 40% of the actions people performed each day weren’t actually decisions, but habits.
If most of what we do every day—and consequently, in our lifetime—are habits, then our success rests upon making sure our habits lead to our desired outcomes.
However, this picture of success-filled lives is not what we see everyday. We see people struggle and fail, unable to fulfill their full, God-given potential, much less reach their personal goals in life.
If the key lies in our habits, then how do we form habits that lead to success? And if you’re somehow stuck with a bad or destructive habit, is there a sure way to get rid of it and replace it with something better?
Every habit, whether good or bad, emanated from a discovery, a point where one’s eyes are uncovered. The strength or depth of that discovery sets up how strong the habit is going to be.
Adam and Eve’s experience in the garden of Eden gives us a picture of how these things start.
“For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened . . .”
From their initial discovery, desire took shape.
So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise . . .
Our desires indicate where our hearts are. These desires turn into decisions over time.
. . . she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her . . .
As these decisions are repeated, they become a delight, something that we enjoy doing. These are now our habits.
Once habits are formed, they’re pretty much automatic; the more you do them, the more you become devoted to them, until you wake up one morning realizing that they have become your destiny.
Consider two different versions of this verse:
. . . that they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints . . .
1 Corinthians 16:15 (ESV)
. . . that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints . . .
1 Corinthians 16:15 (AKJV)
What does it really mean to be devoted? Look no further than the Authorized King James translation. To be devoted is to be addicted! And here is where our dilemma lies. Unless we come up with a plan to change or curb our success-breaking habits, we’re pretty much set for life.
How do we beat these bad habits? Beating bad habits is almost the same as building new ones—it starts with a discovery or revelation!
The intensity of this new revelation must be greater than the discovery that caused the old habit. This revelation will, hopefully, drive you to a desire to change. The desire should then lead you to a decision that contradicts your existing decisions.
The next stage, however, will not be a delight, because your old delight, devotion, and destiny are so entrenched in your life. The next step is a dip. Sometimes it becomes frustrating because although you made the decision to change, your old habits have the upper ground and you’re unsuccessful in making the changes.
You end up in a loop, trying to go after new discoveries, techniques, or strategies to change, but in the end, they all fail and you’re still in the dip.
This is what happens at gyms at the start of the year. A lot of people sign up and then show up in their new shoes and new outfits—and by the third month, sometimes even the third week, they’re gone!
The secret to getting out of that loop and making a breakthrough is to die to yourself.
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me,
let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
Every time that app chimes and you reach for your phone to check out your social media feed, it’s time to die to that habit.
When you’re reading your Bible early in the morning or late at night, and you feel you’re five seconds away from dozing off, it’s time to die to yourself and stand up to keep yourself awake.
When you’re tempted at the cafeteria to buy food that contradicts your diet plan, it’s time to die to yourself and uphold your meal plan.
If the gadget that you’ve been eyeing goes on sale, but you’re prioritizing saving, it’s time to die to yourself.
Only when we die to ourselves will we experience the resurrection life that Jesus promised. We will begin to see Jesus resurrecting our unsuccessful relationships, finances, health, Bible devotions, and every area of our life that needs to be reborn!