Have you ever had the sincere intention of changing something in your life yet have failed to turn it into reality? Looking back over my past, I’ve found myself getting frustrated with all the ‘good intentions’ I’ve had, yet failed to implement. However then I was posed the question: If I have always done it a particular way, what makes me think I can change? A strong will? A strong will is an oxymoron and only leads to legalistic frustration! Yet God calls us to be ‘transformed’ (Rom 12:2); to turn from our ignorant and darkened lives to follow Him and experience a new life. Having a determined and strong will is not enough… we need something else.
One of my favourite authors, Henry Cloud, once said as humans we are fundamentally habitual by nature. 95% of what we do is by habit! 5% is a result of conscious self-regulation. We do things instinctively. When we face the prospect of changing those habits, it puts us into unfamiliar territory, draining our energy. For example try altering your morning routine when you get up. See how it affects your day. Our character is significantly demonstrated by the habits we develop, because what we do reflects who we are. In other words our actions reflect the true nature of our heart (Matt 12:33-35). The habits we feed and develop can either build or destroy us, not to mention those around us. So the secret to a transformed life in any capacity, whether it is daily quiet time with God, a healthier diet and more active lifestyle, or developing a healthier interaction with those around us, is to use that 5% of conscious self-regulation to cultivate new habits!
However that’s only half the solution. If we try to do it by ourselves we WILL fail! We need to be involved in grace-filled relationships to nurture our growth. Grace is defined as ‘unmerited favour’. When God saved us, He gave us something we could not get for ourselves – salvation. It was a gift, an incredible demonstration of unmerited favour and love. When developing new habits we need help from others to enable us to succeed. For example someone who struggles with an unhealthy physical lifestyle would benefit from a personal trainer until the habits of exercise and improved diet were in place (habits tend to take between 30 to 60 days to develop). We need people around us to help bring new, healthy structures and disciplines into our lives that aid our God-given purpose and goals, keeping us accountable until we have developed the new habits. With God’s power within us, the help of those around us, and the understanding that it takes time to change, we ALL can develop the habits we need to lead victorious and eternally fulfilling lives! Isn’t that something we want to experience?
What habits do we need to develop or need to cease to aid God’s direction for our life? Who can we call on the help of to encourage us to develop these new habits? Let’s not let our good intentions remain simply that! Let’s take the active steps today in seeking and developing relationships that will bring new structures and disciplines to our lives, whilst encompassed in a grace-filled environment!