I will continue fleshing out thoughts on what helps lead to real change building on the ideas of relate, repeat, and reframe.
This week I want to explore the idea of repeat: new practices. People who changed experienced change because they began to take on new practices.
Change in our lives typically requires new practices or new behaviors. The person who gets healthy or loses weight probably took on a new practice like exercise or a different way of eating that resulted in real change. People who acquire a new skill like playing an instrument often do so through hours and hours of practice. Achieving competency in any particular skill usually requires new practices that are repeated over and over again. Think about the first time you tried a favorite hobby. Odds are that it took you quite a bit of practice to become proficient at that hobby.
We can’t just talk ourselves into change. There’s certainly a place for talk. Oftentimes, talk can be the precursor to action. Our language must change if we are to change. If we are to experience real change, we must move beyond just talking and step into new practices that are repeated over and over again until they become a natural part of who we are as followers of Jesus.
When you look at the disciples, their lives changed as they began to take on the practices of Jesus. They came from a broad array of ordinary backgrounds: none of them came to Jesus as professional ministry types, preachers or healers. Jesus would teach them and allow them access to His life to watch Him do ministry. Then, He would send them out to do the same things He had been doing. The fishermen began to repeat new practices of proclaiming the coming of the kingdom of God, healing, preaching and proclaiming the forgiveness of sins. For three years, these disciples would adopt new practices that they had learned from Jesus as they followed Him and learned how to be disciples.
Change requires new practices or new behaviors.
If you want to be a better spouse, it will require that you take on new practices: listening before speaking, putting your spouse’s needs ahead of your own, or sitting down to communicate every day. If you want to become a better parent, it will require new practices: engaging with your child instead of ignoring or avoiding her, sacrificing your own personal time to spend that time with your child, or changing your discipline practices to something that’s more effective. If you want to become wiser with money, it will require new practices: weekly budget meetings with your spouse, a new method to keep track of expenses, or paying with cash rather than your trusty credit card.
What does this mean for the church in North America? We’re going to have to take on some new practices if we want to see change. If we want to reach people who are far from God, we’re going to have to adopt some different practices: taking an hour a day to go to a place where people gather in order to connect and begin relationships and conversations. When was the last time you engaged someone in a spiritual conversation? Some of us might need to take on the new practice of initiating three new spiritual conversations every week. Are you doing anything that demonstrates God’s love and redemptive power in your neighborhood or community? Find something in your community that breaks God’s heart and begin working to see that wrong made right. You might have to take on the practice of regularly serving someone to demonstrate God’s love to them and to open up opportunities for spiritual conversations. You might need to invite three neighbors over for dinner every month.
There’s a reason why we need to repeat these new practices: we need the practice. Repeating new practices, learning from our mistakes, developing confidence are all a part of the journey to real and lasting change.
To see different results, we’re going to have to develop some new skills and abilities. In order to develop new skills and abilities, we’re going to have to take on new practices. We’re going to have to live out our faith in a different way than what we’re doing currently.
What’s one practice that you could adopt this week to embrace the change that God wants bring about in your life? What practice does your local body need to take on in order to embody the way and life of Jesus?
What are you willing to begin doing poorly so that you can develop the skills necessary to do the work that God’s calling you to do?
What would living out a new practice look like in your life this coming week?
CGGC eNews—Vol. 13, No. 37