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Habit Formation and Spiritual Growth: Navigating the Journey to Unstoppable Transformation

We’re a few months into 2024. How are your resolutions? Holding steady? Flailing and failing? Committed to conquering for the sake of Christ’s mission through you? I hope it is the latter. 

Yet, habit formation is hard. Satan hates when we commit to new healthy habits. He loves to lead us toward self-sabotage and then self-shame and guilt. He’s really good at it. 

I think we need to demystify habits. I’ve recently completed my second of fifty books for 2024 (one of my goals), The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod. Hal gives the time and research-tested six best practices for anywhere between the first 6 and 60 minutes of your morning. I love Hal’s S.A.V.E.R.S. acronym. 






Scribing (journaling)

In reading the book, I realized the Holy Spirit was inviting me to be more proficient in my journaling. I’ve kind of brushed off the positive potential change in mindset over the years, but I realized now was the time to incorporate the journaling habit. 

I’m not going to lie, I’m batting about .800…which would be great in baseball, but Satan can lead me to focus on the 20% of the days that I’ve failed. Our minds are so focused on the negative. I am in the early stages of habit formation. Habits are harder earlier on. I must persevere. 

One of my favorite parts of the book was Elrod’s discussion on the three stages of habit formation. I guess among “habit-ologists” there is a great debate over whether a habit takes 21 days or 30 days to form. Elrod thinks 21 days is too short. Thirty days is the key number. 

Okay, at least it gave him a neat 10 days to break down the three stages of habit formation. I like his logic. 

Stage 1 - 10 days - Unbearable

I believe this is true. The first 10 days of establishing a new habit (morning exercise, silence, etc.) can be so difficult. Our mind screams at us, “Why are you putting yourself through this? Just hit snooze. Keep sleeping. Why even try? You’re going to fail…just like the last time.” Our self-talk can be so toxic. 

Invite the Holy Spirit into stage one: “Holy Spirit, give me help. This feels heavy and I’m prone to give up. I need your strength. I know this pain is only temporary. I know this habit will change my life and make me more effective in sharing your love.” 

Stage 2 - 10 days - Uncomfortable

Being uncomfortable is easier than the “unbearable” stage. You’re starting to feel more hopeful. You’re starting to see early signs that this habit will change your life…if you don’t give up. 

Satan will still attack in this stage. “Okay, it was a good run, but who are you kidding? You’re not disciplined. Just cheat a day or two. Stop trying so hard. Come on back to your old ways. It’s comfy here.” 

Again, invite the Holy Spirit into your discomfort: “Holy Spirit, thank you for being my comfort. Thank you for reminding me of the discomfort of my Savior, Jesus Christ. He was tempted in every way for me. This temporary discomfort reminds me of my Savior, and I believe this new habit will bless me to be a blessing to others.” 

Stage 3 - 10 days - Unstoppable

Okay, unstoppable is a bit of a hyperbole from Elrod. Death, sin and the devil will “stop” us from time to time. We’ll need grace. We’ll need Jesus, the only “unstoppable” One. 

Nonetheless, this is the stage where many people stop. Elrod says this 10 day stage is “crucial for sustaining your new habit for the long term.” This stage is where the new habit moves from discomfort to pleasure. You start to reap the rewards of your new habit generation. 

If you’re working out, you’re starting to feel more alive and mentally aware throughout your day. 

If you’re starting to drink water (30+ ounces) before coffee in the morning, you’re noticing your GI tract is starting to function more effectively. (Too much information? :))

If you’re journaling, like me, you’re starting to see how daily gratitude for the day past and eager expectation for the day to come impacts your positive mindset. 

The ULC deeply believes that church leaders should become some of the healthiest and disciplined people on the planet. Why? Not to earn God’s grace or for vainglory. We have God’s grace in Christ. The glory belongs to Jesus. 

Yet, the Day of Jesus’ return is near. May He find us habitually caring for self (especially the first hour of the day) so we can care for others day-by-day until the Day of His return. 


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