How do we grow as godly men? Over the past few years, I’ve become convinced that we go through building godly habits.
David Mathis is right: “Your perseverance, under God, is in your habits. Heaven and hell hangs on habits. Show me a man’s habits, and you’ll give me a glimpse into his very soul…Simply put, your habits are one of the most important things about you.”
The power isn’t in the habits themselves. The habits are a means to an end, and that end is Jesus.
The Pharisees were great at keeping habits and completely missed the point. But habits are still important. Unless we build a regular practice of doing certain things, we’re guaranteed not to grow. Every man I know who is growing into godliness practices a set of habits that help them become more like Jesus.
What habits matter the most? Here are five strategic habits that every man needs in order to grow:
- Look after your body. I know. This is a strange one to include. But God made us as physical and spiritual beings. if we’re not getting adequate rest, nutrition, and physical activity, we’ll struggle to grow in godliness. I’m rarely godly when I’m exhausted, for instance. I’m not talking about becoming a super-athlete. I’m talking about getting what your body needs so you have the energy to pursue God.
- Engage the Bible. A study showed that the behaviour most correlated with spiritual maturity is simply reading the Bible — not studying the Bible (although that’s good), but simply reading it regularly. No other habit came close. The problem? Only one in seven Canadian Christians read the Bible every week. If you want to grow, this is the most strategic habit — and perhaps the most neglected — that you can build into your life. Get a good study Bible. Try an audio Bible or app. Find a reading plan you like. Just start reading the Bible regularly.
- Pray. Everyone I know struggles to pray. But Jesus said that the secret of fruitfulness is abiding in Him — maintaining a regular, ongoing connection with Him in all of life (John 15:4). That means talking to Him about everything and living our lives depending on Him for everything.
- Worship and belong. The same study I mentioned above found that growing believers also took a couple of other strategic actions: they attended church regularly, and they built relationships within the church. God made us to grow together, not alone. So many times, I come to church struggling, but everything we do in church — singing, praying, hearing the Word, and fellowshipping — helps me to thrive spiritually.
- Adapt. I’ve heard people give rigid advice: “You must have devotions first thing every morning! You must follow this Bible reading plan!” But I’ve noticed that the people I know who are growing into godliness have figured out how to adapt these habits to fit into their lives. Morning people often practice these habits in the morning; night owls do them at night. Introverts do them alone; extroverts buddy up with others. There’s no one “right” way to practice these habits. Experiment. Have fun. Figure out what works for you, and build on your successes.
There are other habits in the Christian life, but I really believe that these are the five that matter most. Every time I’ve stopped practicing one of these habits, I’ve stopped growing. Every time I pursue Jesus through these habits, I’ve found that the Spirit is ready to meet me in my need and draw me closer to him.
Start small. Tackle one at a time. Build these into your life, not just for a while, but for the rest of your life. Pursue Jesus through these habits, and God will help you grow. You will not only grow in your relationship with God, but He will work through you to make a difference in the lives of others for eternity.
 Im, Daniel. No Silver Bullets: Five Small Shifts that will Transform Your Ministry . B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition, location 1428.