ON QUEST – Engage New Behaviors
March 11, 2019
Verse for the Week: Philippians 3:13-14; “I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus”
Habits are a natural by-product of life. But not all habits are not created equal. Some have the power to hinder us while others have the power to help us. When we get stuck in the cycle of bad habits, we tend to feel spiritually distant and disconnected.
Habits can make or break us—our lifestyle, and even our legacy. They are that important. In the end, our focus is best spent on pursuing life-affirming habits and celebrating the small wins.
This brings us to our fifth and final C-R-A-V-E Challenge—Engage New Behaviors:
C–ommit To Pray
R–eplace Feelings With Faith
E-ngage New Behaviors
We’ve done some good work over the last few weeks setting ourselves up for success. At this point in the process, we get practical. We’ve already identified the habits and behaviors that need an overhaul. Some may need to be eliminated altogether. While others, a reworking is in order.
The posture required for this challenge is one of resourcefulness. Being open and prepared to trade one habit for another will stretch us a bit. We are creatures of habit, and enjoy the mindlessness of habits that deliver predictably anticipated rewards.
Given this tendency, our key to success in Engaging New Behaviors will hinge on finding a new habit to replace the old one that delivers a similar reward but has a more positive and life-giving benefit.
Because most of us are able to get our basic needs of food and shelter met, we tend to follow hard after higher level needs such as love, connection, and feelings of safety and esteem.
For example, our craving for sweets at night could have evolved over time trying to satisfy a misplaced craving for comfort and connection. Or a habit of surfing social media that has gone rogue is manifesting as a desperate search for significance and identity.
Perhaps you struggle with anxiety that keeps you from engaging socially and stems from a deep need for emotional safety because you fear being exposed.
Regardless of the behavior we’ve adopted to satisfy or appease a desired need, the reward is what keeps us coming back for more.
With that in mind, engaging new behaviors is the precursor to ridding ourselves of old, unwanted habits. Our challenge—find a new habit that delivers a similar reward. As we exchange one for the other, it will probably feel foreign and fake at first. But over time, our new habits have the power and potential to become our new normal.
Our scripture verse this week tells us as Christians we are called to forget what is behind us—things that hinder, haunt, and harm—so we can press on toward a much better goal, one of becoming more like Christ.
It’s a tall order, yes. But one in which progress is required, not perfection. So, we press on.
Even so, in order to press on and not give up when the old ways are pulling us back towards the pit, we need to see our new habits as invitations to a better life. A better existence that produces peace. This type of spiritual peace is evidence of better alignment to who Christ created us to be.
As we continue On Quest for soul integrity, it’s important to remember that this process is not about self-salvation, but about spiritual progression.
Start small and take it slow. Practice may not make perfect, but practice sure does foster progression and that is what we are after.
God has given us the ability to make a conscious choice to adopt habits that produce life, not death.
Ephesians 4: 22-24; “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”
Titus 2:11-12 says, “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.”
Next week we will do a final wrap-up. In the meantime, be proud of the work you’ve done. Change is hard. We will cycle through as many victories as we do defeats. Don’t give up. Remember, this process is not about perfection, but progression.
God is working something new and beautiful in you by changing habits that hinder into habits that help.
Lord God, Help me form new and better habits and practice them till they become my new normal. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Reflect and Respond:
This week pick one habit, behavior, or anxiety as a target for overhaul. The key to this type of exchange is to pick habits that produce a similar reward you are seeking to satisfy. Be very specific and clear on what the reward is. Then pick a better habit, or routine as a replacement.
This is where you’ll need to be creative and resourceful. Don’t go too far off course or you’ll retreat. So take it slow and be mindful of choosing new habits to try.
Hugs for a great week and remember, you are not alone. Be blessed as you engage new habits.