[This post is part of the Reshaping Christian Habits series]
As part of my 90-day challenge, I am trying to refocus on habit building. Most of this actually ends up focusing on habit deconstruction before reconstruction. Since most of the 90-day challenge hinges on this basic activity, I thought I’d post on it a few times this week.
For a general overview of habits and how they can be changed and shaped, I would highly recommend you picking up in either the print or eBook form of Darren Hardy’s The Compound Effect. If you want some immediate, constructive steps on how to re-tool your habits for maximum long term effectiveness, Hardy’s book is a must read.
What I found interesting is that Hardy is essentially offering a concrete how-to on habit building that resonates with the goals and standards articulated in N. T. Wright’s After You Believe. As the subtitle suggests, Wright’s book is focusing on character or virtue. Wright, writing as he is from a Christian perspective, is trying to rescue virtue ethics by grounding it in the goals of character development set in the New Testament.
Ethical or character development must move forward with a sound goal, motive, and standard. Most everyone clearly sees the standard set by Scripture (do this, don’t do that). Wright is helping us regain perspective on the goal for living by that standard. The Spirit gives us the proper motivation, but without a view of the telos, the Christian life might start feeling inauthentic because you’re merely living out a standard that you have disconnected from an ultimate goal.
Or worse, you misconstrue the goal and begin to see your work in character development as growing your own righteousness that somehow makes you more acceptable to God. This is most certainly not the case, but the prevalence of legalistic Christians and professional weaker brothers suggests that many people fall into this trap.
To help, Wright wants to present a “gateway to a fresh reading of the moral thrust of the New Testament.” A 3 point summary captures the heart of his book (p. 67):
- The goal is the new heaven and the new earth, with human beings raised from the dead to be the renewed world’s rulers and priests.
- This goal is achieved through the kingdom-establishing work of Jesus and the Spirit, which we grasp by faith, participate in by baptism, and live out in love.
- Christian living in the present consists of anticipating this ultimate reality through the Spirit-led, habit-forming, truly human practice of faith, hope, and love, sustaining Christians in their calling to worship God and reflect his glory into the world.
If this captures your attention and you think a transformative summer sounds like a good idea right about now, then keep following my lead. If you want help restructuring your habits, pick up Hardy’s book, or for a cheaper option go here and print off the worksheets. Pick up a book like Wright’s or another similar book aimed at guiding you in Christian character development. Let me know if you decide to do something and we can sharpen each other in the process.