October 2016: Walking the Dog
Watching the dog walkers is fascinating. We can see the East Beach from our house. Throughout the day we can’t help but notice the dog walkers – some letting them run free, some throwing balls, others keeping them on the lead. What’s intriguing is, that we see the same people, at the same time, each day.
That shouldn’t be surprising. If you have a dog, it needs a walk in the morning. It makes sense to do it before you go to work or to whatever other things need doing. So before, or after breakfast, out you go. You quickly realise other people are doing the same thing at the same time. You enjoy their company. By making it a regular feature of your life, not only does Pooch get exercised, you meet your friends. And so a habit forms, develops and becomes ingrained.
Habits. We all have them. Scratch the surface and you discover that even the most ‘spontaneous’ person has habits. Some of our habits are good – they add to our lives. Others are less good – they sap life out of us.
Frank Crane said something very perceptive about habits. ‘Habits are safer than rules; you don't have to watch them. And you don't have to keep them, either. They keep you.’
Once a habit is formed you don’t have to think about it. It becomes an automatic, instinctive response. That’s a positive thing when it’s a good habit. Come sunshine or rain, whether we are aware of it or not, these good habits add to our lives. Unfortunately, bad habits work the same way, but with the opposite effect.
That’s why it’s worth working on habits. Habits require effort and persistence both to make and break. It’s an investment that’s worth making. Once a good habit is formed, we reap the benefit for years, even decades.
At the moment we’re exploring Five Habits of Highly Missional People, through the book Surprise the World. We’ve had a look at all five of them. It’s been interesting. I hear that it’s provoked some quite animated discussion. Not everyone is persuaded about the importance of all of the habits!
Most of us enjoy novelty. New ideas spark our interest and fire our imagination. Now we’ve looked at each of the five habits, we’re looking forward to what comes next.
Except, we’re going back to the beginning to look at these five habits again. The key word is habit. We don’t develop a new habit in a week. It takes time, effort and persistence. You might not be persuaded that all five are key, which is fine. Yet you’ve been prompted to think about habits that make people sit up and think about the place of God in their lives.
Jesus said, ‘You are the light of the world. A city on the hill cannot be hidden.’ (Matthew 5:14 ). We are to live questionable lives. We aren’t all called to preach. We are all called to live lives that point people towards Jesus. One of the ways we do that is by developing habits that help us live the Jesus way.
Of the five habits we have considered, (Bless, Eat, Listen, Learn, Send) I wonder which one has resonated most with you? Which one might God be prompting you to work on over the next few weeks?
To see other messages from Neil, click on the appropriate month in the table below.
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