Saturday, January 4, 2020

Uncommon Habits for the New Year

by Andrew Cromwell

This year, just as in year’s past, most will make some new year’s resolutions. We will determine to lose weight, get back in shape, spend more quality time with family, save money, and read more. We resolve to do differently because we want to be different! 

Inherently we know that if we are going to become better people we have to change our habits. Habits have the power to transform our lives for better or worse. We can be filled with peace and patience or anxiety and angst, all depending on how we order our lives. According to Justin Whitmel Early, “habits form [not just] our schedules, they form our hearts.”

Let me suggest three habits—three new year’s resolutions—that could have the power to change your year because they have the power to influence your heart. Let me warn you, these habits are countercultural. They are uncommon. But uncommon habits lead to uncommon lives. And uncommon lives have the power to change our world.

The first uncommon habit is Scripture before Screen. It is as simple as it sounds. And yet, for many of us, we have become so trained by our technology that we no longer are in control. For many of us, our phones are both our alarm clocks and our mindless entertainment (not to mention the way we communicate with the world). So the phone tends to be the first thing we grab as we wake up in the morning. If the phone is not your screen of choice then it might be the television or something else. This simple habit involves a decision to first stare at the mirror of God’s Word before anything else. It may be the single best strategy for having daily devotions that we have available to us today! 

The second uncommon habit is One Meal with Others. For some, this habit may not be a challenge. But increasingly we live in a world where we are disconnected from others. Our lives are filled with activity and yet we find ourselves eating alone. Sometimes we might eat next to others but we aren’t really with them because we are so preoccupied with our technology. This habit is all about connecting relationally with the people around us. We all have to eat, why not turn it into a meaningful time for conversation and connection? Imagine if you planned your life and work around connecting with others rather than the other way around?

The third uncommon habit is One Hour with Phone Off. It sounds easy, but for many of us, the very thought of being without your device brings on a panic attack. Perhaps that’s why this one is important. Pick a time and turn your phone off completely. It’s not good enough just to put it on silent or to turn it over. Turn it completely off. Oh, and don’t cheat with other devices -- turn off the Apple Watch, the iPad, and any other device that stands between you and the physical world. The world will go on. You will be free. And you might notice some things you’ve been missing. 

You might have noticed that two out of three of these habits have to do with technology. The simple fact is that our lives, our hearts, and our relationships are being shaped by tech in ways that we often don’t realize. Perhaps 2020 will be the year when we begin to take back control of what shapes our hearts! 

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