5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; (2 Peter 1:5)
As I think back to “successful” people I have been exposed to, I have noticed that they have had something in common – they each had similar habits. Merriam-Webster defines a habit as: “an acquired mode of behavior that has become nearly or completely involuntary.” Those habits in our life can be negative, neutral or positive. Those who establish positive habits, not surprisingly, experience the good fruit that comes from establishing these disciplines in their lives. This principle is extremely evident in the life of athletes. A blog, “Five Habits of Successful Athletes”, touches on some of the most important habits that athletes must form in their lives, in the opinion of a seasoned coach.
- Being Prepared in Advance – reviewing training plans a few days in advance, and even mapping out food/nutrition plans for the week.
- Staying Focused – compartmentalizing your “goals and personal life”, not allowing your mind to wander in the middle of sessions. “They know their numbers for each session”.
- Maintaining a Neutral Ego – Not being distracted by training of those around you. If out on and easy recovery run and you’re overtaken by an “arch-nemesis” you stick to your session plan.
- Good Time Management – Time is limited to 24 hrs. each day. Most effective athletes “turn otherwise dead time into productive training time”. E.g. biking to and from work.
- Self Awareness – “Effective athletes listen to their body when it is sending them a signal.” E.g. monitoring fatigue levels to avoid overtraining or injury. Taking a rest day is not a sign of weakness!
I strongly believe that, likewise, to have a “successful” life as a Christian, you need to develop positive habits in your life. I know there are many Christians who would cringe at these words as they believe that the Christian walk is not about effort, but about just flinging yourself in the arms of Jesus and allowing him to do the work. However, the Apostle Peter seems to emphasize the need for “effort” in his writing.
5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins. (2 Peter 1: 5-9)
“Make every effort”. If you look that up in the Greek that it was originally written, it means “make every effort”. Peter is telling us as Christians that we have responsibility to make a conscious decision to watch over our lives and apply disciplines of good habits. Paul thought this principle was so important that he urges his student Timothy to: 16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. (1 Timothy 4:16). Not surprisingly, as I look back on those Christians whom I have encountered who have argued against the “effort” associated with Christian discipline, I see many graveyards surrounding them, formed by sin and a lack of wisdom. In contrast, where I have encountered Christians who have taken Peter’s words seriously, I see Christians who have grown trees which have produced good and lasting fruit. (Matthew 7: 15-20). Of course, we do it all with the help of Jesus (Matthew 11:29), but we need to make a conscious decision to put disciplines in place in our lives so that we can be useful to God and we are in a place to allow the Holy Spirit to do a work in our lives. I pray that you too would be Christians practising godly habits.