Habits for Spiritual Growth - Part 5: Commitment

Habits for Spiritual Growth
Part 5
Pastor Stephen "Red" Shumate
October 23rd, 2016
Image courtesy of Rawich at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Habits for Spiritual Growth - Part 5
This series is all about changing your life and changing your habits.  And the model of change that we are using is a 4 stage model.  The four stages are: Belief, Commitment, Change, and Continue.  And in the last few weeks we have looked more specifically at the first stage: Belief.  Let’s review our primary points…

4 Stages of Faith/Change/Starting a New Habit -
                Belief, Commitment, Change, Continue

Stage 1. Belief (John 3:16)

a. Belief in the Power of Something
Prayer, Scripture, and Serving has the power to grow us
        closer to God.
(James 5:16, Romans 1:16, Luke 6:38)

b. Belief About Current Situation
         Life without Prayer, Scripture and Serving is a life that is
         Distant from God and is done under our own strength

c. Belief that Change Can Happen
If we commit to praying, reading, and Serving Others
Our lives will change and we will draw closer to God.

The second stage is commitment. And this week we will take a closer look at it…

Stage 2. Commitment (Romans 10:9)
Why do we need commitment?  The reason we need commitment, is because the next stage, Change, is going to be incredibly difficult.  We will face a lot challenges and perhaps even a few failures, but we want to make sure that we keep pushing through so that we can reach our goal.  And in order to commit there are three things we need to know:  Motivation, Method, and Metric.

A. Motivation
Since the next stage of change is so difficult, that means that we need some serious motivation to help keep us committed to our plan of action.  There are three types of motivation we want have, when we are talking about commitment and those 3 types of motivation are push motivation, pull motivation and carry motivation.

1. Push – (Why Don’t…)
Our push motivation is what is going to push us towards our goal.  When things get difficult and we want to turn back to our old ways, our push motivation is what is going to push us towards to goals and away from those things that we don’t want in our lives.

To find out what our push motivation is, we ask ourselves the question… “Why don’t I want life to stay the same?”  This question can take many forms such as… “What is it that you want to get away from?  What do you want to stop doing?  What path do you no longer wish to go down?”  Etc…

In terms of the 3 specific habits that we have been talking about: Praying, Reading/Studying Scripture, let’s look to Isaiah 59:2 for a potential answer. It should be noted here, that everyone’s push, pull, and carry motivations will be different, which is good because they need to be deeply personal.

Isaiah 59:2
But your iniquities have built barriers
between you and your God,
and your sins have made Him hide His face from you
so that He does not listen.

Our sin and our sinful lives have separated us from God.  And so when we ask the question “Why don’t we want life to stay the same?  Why don’t I want to continue living without these habits in my life?” The answer might be, because we don’t want to live a life separated from God.  So our push motivation becomes, we want to start these new habits, because I don’t want to be separated from God and I don’t want him to hide his face from me.

So our first piece of motivation is going to push us away from our old ways and towards our new goals.

2. Pull – (Why Do…)
The next category is our pull motivation.  And what our pull motivation is going to do, is help pull us toward our new goals.  And this time instead of asking the question, “Why don’t?” …We ask, “Why do?”

Why do I want to life to be different?  Why do I want change in my life?  Why do I want to accomplish this goal?

The key to answering this question is to remember two things.  First, your answer needs to be positive.  For example, “I want my life to be healthy,” “I want to earn a degree” etc…  And the second thing to remember is that it shouldn’t be just the opposite of your answer to the question “Why don’t?”  For instance, if your answer to “Why don’t?” is because I don’t want to be unhealthy, then your answer to your “Why do?” shouldn’t be because I DO want to be healthy.  Instead you might say, I do want to live with more energy or I do want to look more fit.

To find our answer of why we do want start the habit of Praying, Reading/studying and serving…let’s look at:

Philippians 4:19
And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus

So our answer to “Why do we want to start these habits?” Might be, because the closer we draw to God, the better we can enjoy His blessings on our lives.

3. Carry – (Who…)
Our third category of motivation is carry motivation.  And what carry motivation does, is add accountability to us for reaching our goal.  While the first two categories of motivation are personal, and don’t affect anyone but us, the third category of motivation is going to ask the question Who?  Who is positively affected by the change in our lives?

And this carry motivation is what will help carry us through the difficult times when our push and our pull just aren’t enough to keep us going.

In terms of our spiritual habits, the Holy Spirit may be our carry motivation.  When we become Christians, we are given the Holy Spirit to live within us.  And scripture tells us to not grieve the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13-14, 4:30).  So we want to be sure we get these habits started and keep them going.

B. Method
The next part in our stage of commitment is Method, and that is to say… What plan of action are we going to commit to, in order to facilitate change in our lives?

The reason we want to have a method is so that we aren’t doing it aimlessly.  So instead of saying…you know, I commit to praying every day…instead we need to say…here is the plan I am committing to…I will pray 3 times a day, at 9am, noon and 9pm or I will commit to a reading plan that will take me through the Bible in a year.  So, before we commit to a new habit, we must have a plan of action to commit to.

C. Metric
And the last thing we want to talk about in terms of commitment is our metric and that is to say, how we measure the change.  Because if we cannot see the success in change, if we can’t see that it is working, we will never see it through.  So how do we know if reading, praying and serving is working in our own lives?

Galatians 5:19-22
Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, 21 envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar. I tell you about these things in advance—as I told you before—that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith,

Our metric here will be evidence of moving away from the works of the flesh and towards the fruits of the spirit.

So here is where we are in 4 stages of adding new habits to our lives.  

We believe that Prayer, Scripture and Serving has the power to change our lives and bring us closer to God.  So, now we are committing to having them in our lives.  In our commitment, we know what our Push, Pull and Carry motivations are, we know what our method is, and we know what our metrics will be so that we can know that our lives are indeed changing.

Are you reading to commit to these new habits?

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