Discipleship: Healthy Habits

When my friend and I interviewed ministry leaders about spiritual growth, many outlined habits that help us grow. Three habits in particular received the most mention — reading the Bible, talking to God, and learning together with other Christ-followers. Consistently doing these things is to spiritual maturity what diet, exercise, and rest are to physical fitness.

Each of these three habits are relational. With God in conversation, and with others as we learn Christ together. Like the best relationships, they never run dry or wear out. The oldest of saints derive as much pleasure from them as “on fire” new believers. We were created for these relationships.

For those just beginning, here are a few basic recommendations for each:

Reading the Bible: Many new Bible readers begin with the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) or Psalms. Some enjoy narrative books like Ruth and Esther, while others find the “letters” helpful (Philippians, Colossians, James, 1 John). Long term, I recommend reading the Bible through regularly — with someone close by to answer questions.

Talking to God: First, do it all day long in every setting. He is always with you, understands you completely (Psalm 139), and loves you unconditionally. You can talk with Him constantly. If you prefer a guide or talking points, I use the Lord’s Prayer:

  • Praise God for what you know or notice about Him
  • Ask Him to spread His influence throughout your world
  • Ask Him to meet your needs (and the needs of your family, friends, and others)
  • Confess your sin and failures
  • Ask Him for protection from temptation and evil.
  • Affirm His ability to do all these things.

Learning Together: We grow best when we grow together. Get together often with others who follow Christ — and talk about it. Ask questions, share your insights and experiences, learn from those with more experience, and lean on them when you are weak. Finally, always pray together and for each other. Always.

More can be said, but shared experience will serve as its own guide. Keep these healthy habits alive in your life, learn how to thrive in them, and do them with others — as if you were joining a gym or finding a running partner. They are not the main thing, but they’ll keep you focused on the main thing, which is learning Christ.

Why tough decisions matter

We just moved from a house to an apartment. Our living space dropped by sixty percent, and we lost our yard, garage, and basement. We had to get rid of most of our stuff.

Painful as that was, it was life-changing. Now our lives are more relational and agile.

I recently watched some friends walk through this at work. Their business, built on lean means and slim margins, faced a sudden loss and needed to shrink. Sobered, they asked God for wisdom and watched for His leading. No rancor, whining, or self-interest.

Yet, their crisis persisted. Their sacrifices weren’t enough. More was required.

That’s when fatigue can set in, along with regrettable choices. But one of them suggested reviewing their values — which led to a strategic switch from loss to gain. Just like that.

At the end of the day, their team is stronger, they triumphed together, and they witnessed God’s “wisdom and whatever He thought best” from front row seats.

Tough times can be rich. Return to your values, stick together, and petition the One who is wise.