Habits are very powerful things. Someone has rightly observed you are the accumulation of all your habits. I've discovered six habits that allow you to go from good to great. In our last broadcast, I covered three of them.
Now I'm going to cover the last three, so fasten your seatbelt. Here we go. Thanks for joining us for this Edition of Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. I'm Dave Drewy and Chip's our Bible teacher for this international discipleship ministry focused on helping Christians live like Christians. Well, in a minute, we'll wrap up our popular series Good to Great in God's Eyes. For the past several programs, Chip's unpacked simple yet profound practices that can radically grow our faith. So if you've been encouraged or even motivated by this series, would you take a minute after this message and share it with a friend?
Now you can do that through the Chip Ingram app or by sending them the free MP3s you'll find at livingontheedge.org. Okay, here now is Chip with the second half of his talk from 1 Timothy chapter 4 as he continues highlighting the six great habits that cultivate grace. Let's dive in. Notice what it says in Luke 16 10. He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also much, and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also much. Now if you study Luke 16, it's a financial passage, but I believe it's a timeless axiom about the issue of responsibility. I'll never ever forget where I learned this.
I mean this was mind-boggling to me. During the summer, I went with a parachurch organization. We all went to this big city to learn how to do ministry. We stayed in a sorority house, and then we all got jobs, and then at night we did evangelism. We took faith trips, and so we're on this faith trip, and we're out to just find people we could serve and love, and there's five guys in a car, and my team leader is a guy named John, and we're at a gas station out in the middle of somewhere in Ohio. I don't know where it was, and it wasn't very nice, and I love Ohio.
I was born in Ohio, but this gas station wasn't very nice, and so I'm going in to wash my hands, put some gas in the car, and take this right. I'm not trying to be too graphic or anything, but a guy is coming out of this stall, and I notice he pulls toilet paper, and he wipes the seat, and flushes it, and then comes out, and he's my team leader. I'm thinking, ooh, and then he washes his hands, and he takes a couple paper towels, and he wipes off the sink. It takes him about six or seven seconds, and then many people have dropped junk, and he just takes another three seconds, gathers it up, puts it down, and I'm the mouthy, arrogant young guy, so I'm thinking, so John, looking for work, huh? A little janitorial here, you know, and he stopped me, and he got real serious.
He said, no, Chip, not at all. He said, a disciple of Jesus Christ always leaves everything better than they found it. Someone's going to sit on that seat later. I don't need to know him. I need to serve him. Someone's going to wash their hands in that sink later.
I don't know him, but I know that if Jesus was here, he would want it better for them. You know what? I don't know who owns this gas station, but if I owned it, and there was paper all over the floor, I would certainly want someone to pick it up so the next people coming in, and I mean, it was like, you talk like a paradigm shift.
I never thought of that. See, what John taught me was you not only do your own dishes, a servant, you do other people's dishes. You take responsibility for your life. You take responsibility for your actions and your choices and your messes, and you become the kind of person that other people can count on, and I will never, ever forget, and so I went into practicing that. So I learned when you borrow a car from someone, when you return it, it's clean, and you fill it with gas. When you get something out of the refrigerator, you put it away.
When you take off your clothes, you hang them up. It's amazing the number of marital problems that can be solved if you just do your own dishes, but when you begin to, it's just a habit. I mean, I have, you know, I had many, many, and still have plenty of good marital issues to work through, but my wife would work, and she would do all the clothes, and I would, you know, come in, and I have more important things to do because I'm so important, and I'd take all the clothes that she's done, and I'd put them on the dresser, and they might be there for two or three or four days because you can't leave them on the bed because I have to sleep in the bed because that's where I sleep, and that's very important. You know what I was communicating to her?
She worked for how many hours doing all those clothes? I communicated. It must not be very important to me, and you know what? I've developed the habit, and we'll get to this one, but it's kind of do your own dishes and do it now. I just have developed the habit.
When I walk in, the clothes are there. I put them away now. Very simple. I just put them away now.
It's as easy to do in 30 seconds now as it is three days from now, but do you see what I'm saying? You can cultivate habits of being kind, of being faithful, of being a steward, and so what you want to do is, hey, you know what? You buy an alarm clock. You take out the trash, and then are you ready for this one? Every single one of us, you do your own dishes. You own your messes. You own your future.
You own your money. You own your problems and your relationships, and by God's grace, you cultivate the habit of not expecting anything or anyone, no blaming, no excuses, saying, Lord, I'm desperate. I need help.
My Bible says that's when grace comes. I can't do this. I need your help. Fourth habit is the principle of clarity. Proverbs, verse 20, says the purposes of a man's heart are like deep water, but a man of understanding draws it out, and this is habit, write it down. Write it down. Now, this may sound kind of crazy, but this may be one of the most important tools. Right here.
Are you ready for that? Write it down. You'd be surprised how many people, nothing is clear until it's written down.
It's a habit. Look what it says. The purposes of a man, the thoughts, the dreams, the purposes, the things that are in a man or a woman's heart, they're like deep water.
How do you get things that are of great value out of deep water? You have to draw them out. How do you know in this complex world whether you said your kid to this school or that school? How do you know whether you ought to do plan A or plan B? How do you know whether you need to respond to this person now or wait and give God some room to work?
How do you know whether the issue is really them or the issue is you and your own arrogance and your own pride? How do you get clear about life? You know, I'm going to buy an alarm clock and I'm going to say, oh God, I'm going to put you first, and then I want to take out the trash and deal with that so that you can transform me. And then Lord, what I want to do is I want to take responsibility for my own life. Well then proactively, where do you go? What do you do?
How do you know? I'm going to suggest that when you get in the habit of writing things down, and let me give you some very specific examples that I've found very helpful and I wish I could deliver them, but the first is three by five cards, the power of clear-cut objectives. It's the power of clear-cut objectives. Who do you want to be? Where do you want to go?
What do you think is important? I was in a prison sharing Christ with a guy named Bill Glass, and we were in the prison and went around and we had a dinner, and Bill just off the cuff shared how he wrote the desires of his heart or some specific goals on three by five cards. And he said, don't try and memorize them, I just want to keep them out there so that my mind and my heart can gravitate toward them.
And in 1986 I began to do that. And I thought, I want to write things down that I know for sure I want. So I wrote on a card, I want to be a man of God and walk before God in integrity all the days of my life. I would like to love Teresa in a way that makes sense to her each day in some specific way. I would like to help each of my children discover their spiritual gifts and God's will for their life.
I'd like to work out on a regular basis and not feel guilty about it and stay in good shape. I'd like to pray for extended times and learn to become habitually thankful about all things because of God's goodness and sovereignty. And you know what I did with the three by five cards? I just read them over a couple, three times a week. In the early years I did it every day.
I didn't try and memorize them, I didn't try and work something up, but you know something? It got clear. This is who I want to be. This is where I want to go. This is what I want to do. Here's the kind of man I want to be, the kind of husband I want to be, the kind of father I want to be, the kind of person I want to be.
And if you write it down, you will unconsciously gravitate. How many of you have gone out and looked for a car before and decided that you're going to, you decide on a mop, I'm going to get a Jeep or I'm going to, you know, I'm going to get one of those new Volkswagen types, whatever it is. But the moment you decide that that's the kind of car you're going to look for, what begins to happen on the road? They're everywhere, right? Guess what?
They've been there. When you begin to write down what you really want, your mind and God's Spirit will begin to move and gravitate you toward those goals. The second power of writing it down is, and I hate these, I'm a very spontaneous, undisciplined person by nature, and the calendar is the freedom of structure. And what I mean by that is that what I understand why I need a calendar, and I don't think the method is all that important, but you know, I know that I really want to do, just my heart of hearts, I want to do whatever I want to do whenever I want to do it. And so I don't like writing things down because then I feel hemmed in. Anybody else feel like that?
Now some of you don't. Some of you, you just love, you put it color-coded and you know, tomorrow at 11-11 I'm going to brush my teeth in 11-14, and you write those down so you can check them off, different personalities, it's good. But the freedom of a calendar is, what I begin to do is I took these cards and I said to myself, okay, you know what, I've been living a long time with the to-do list.
And then, you know, I had this amazing aha moment. I never get my to-do list done. Do you?
I mean, you just keep adding to it, it goes longer, longer, longer, longer. And then I thought, well let's see, do I want to be a doer or a be-er? What's more important?
Is it the be-attitudes or the do-attitudes? And you know what I did? It's so simple, is I transformed. Do I make a to-do list? Yeah, I'll talk about it. But I write it down, but I took the goals that I knew were God's will and I put them in my calendar first. Okay, so, you want to have a good marriage?
Okay. I wrote down, meet with Teresa every Friday on my day off for three hours. You want to have a good relationship? I want to be this kind of dad? Okay, I wrote in my calendar time with my kids.
You want to work out and stay in shape? I wrote in my calendar. Before I wrote my to-do list, I wrote my to-be list. And I put my to-be's in my calendar.
And I decided, you know, with a lot of struggle, they were just as important as all these important meetings and phone calls and urgent things that are so important today and then three months later I can't even figure out what they were. And if you will put your to-be's, who do you want to be? You want to be a woman of God? You want to be this kind of single person? This kind of mother?
This kind of ministry? And you write in the structure and then I write a to-do list and I do as many of the to-do's and I prioritize them as best I can. And I still don't get done.
But you know what's neat? For twenty-some years I've been working out a couple, three, four times a week. For twenty-eight years I've been having a date with my wife. Now I'm not going to tell you that we had three dates and this wonderful relationship. But because it's been built in as a habit, guess what's happened in twenty-eight years of having three and four hours alone together where you really process life?
It's built a really good relationship. You know, it was like taking a string and putting it through that pearl. And little by little by little. See the problem with habits is you never reap in the same season that you sow.
And so what we tend to do is we want the quick fix and that works both ways, you know? You put some junk in your mind in your life and you wake up five or seven years later and you begin to reap what you were sowing and it's painful. Or you meet and put some good things in and you know, sometimes I haven't seen the fruit of some things for five, ten years.
But I'm very, very grateful. And the final is a to-do list. Calendars of the freedom of structure, the to-do list for me is the necessity of focus. And I don't know how you live without it but so I, you know, this is my journal because I kind of put it all together and I just make my to-do list and near the beginning of every week I write in my knowns then I write my to-dos and then I put stars by the ones that are going to have the greatest impact that I know I really want to do and then I put stars next to the ones that, you know, I'm going to get in big trouble if I don't get done. And then I prioritize them and I write out and ask God for help. And then the final thing in terms of writing it down is journaling and this is the need for reflection. I just, when you begin to write things down, you get clear.
You get structure that produces freedom. It gives focus about what you're going to do and then you need to write out your dreams and your thoughts and your fears. If I, you know, I pray that no one ever reads any of my journals ever at least like 50 years after I die because people would be just, you know what, how many times are you going to start your journal with, Lord, I'm really tired today. I feel really overwhelmed. I don't know how I'm going to do it. I got six things on my mind and I can tell I must be angry about something but I don't know what it is.
You know how I figure out what it is? I keep writing until he shows me. Lord, I got a dream on my heart.
Last night this thought came to me and I don't know if you'd ever allow me to do it but as I think about this, if there's anything you could ever give me as I was sitting around the table with my kids, Lord, would you please? And you begin to reflect. We get so busy doing, doing, going, going. Clarity.
The purposes of a man or a woman's heart are like deep water but a man of understanding, a woman of understanding draws it out. Habit number five is do it now. I've never had a coach and I ran a little track.
It wasn't very good so I changed sports because other guys were way too fast but when I ran track, you know, the coach has this thing and you line up for a race and everyone gets right like here. Okay, on your mark. Now get set.
And he's got the stopwatch and I've never heard him go later. You know, there's certain things what you need to understand is do it now. Notice what it says.
This is the principle of inertia. A lot of things don't get done because you never get started. There's a power, tremendous power in getting started with things. Listen to what it says in Proverbs 24, 30 to 34. I pass by the field of the sluggard. That means the lazy person. That's one of those Bible words. And by the vineyard of the man lacking sense. So he's walking by and he sees the field of a lazy person. And behold, it was completely overgrown with thistles. Its surface was covered with nettles and its stone was broken down, the stone wall.
What are all those things a sign of? Neglect, right? I went by the field of a lazy person and I can tell no one's done anything here as evidenced. When I saw it, what'd he do? I reflected upon it. I pondered. See, God's gonna speak to him from this picture. I looked and then I received instruction. By the way, God wants to speak to all of us every day beyond just the Bible. Reflect, receive instruction. And here's his instruction. A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest.
Then your poverty will come as a robber and you'll want like an armed man. Just a little. A little. I'm just gonna take a little nap. I'll do that later. This is just a little thing. I think I'll watch just a little bit of this game. Oh, we'll discipline the kids later.
We'll do our bills later. Anything that's hard, anything that's difficult, the great majority of people that walk on this planet end their life filled with good intentions and broken promises. The great majority of people, they intended to be this. They intended to do this. Someday they were gonna go here. They were gonna invest in their kids this way.
They were gonna someday, someway, somehow. And you know what? Do it now. Do it now. Stop procrastinating. Attack life.
Does that sound crazy? Attack life. Build into the habit of certain things. Do the hard things now.
Have the unpleasant conversation now. Do the most difficult, unpleasant, I hate to do it early in the day. And the only way I made it through the languages in Seminary is I got up at 4 o'clock in the morning and if I didn't get my Greek done by 7 in the morning, I didn't have it in me. I mean I'm glad I learned all that stuff, but I mean the Hebrew was like chicken scratch backwards and Greek was like, oh my lands and you had three years of it. And I'm thinking I've got a wife, I've got three kids, I've got a job, I've got to read all these books, I'm supposed to learn this language. And the only window of time I could, okay, and I get up early and there was an all night coffee shop and I get there about 4.30 and for the next two and a half hours I'd study my Greek. And I mean by 8 o'clock, if I had to do one more assignment in the day, I mean it's just not in me.
Attack the hardest things first. And then cultivate the habit of doing it now. It is silly as it sounds. It's just a habit and when you do it in little things it carries over. My wife had done the laundry. I had my bag, I sat down my bag, I took the things, I put it in the drawer. I then went into the closet, opened it up, and I've done it a lot of different ways, is I took off my clothes and guess what, it takes seven seconds. I hung up my pants, I took the dirty clothes here, I put them here. It's just a habit, I don't think about it.
But you know what happens? You cultivate the habit in little things, do it now. Because isn't it a different world to come in and have two or three days of clothes laying on the floor, of having a dresser that has a pile of papers over here, six calls to return over here. It's completely demotivating. So I get depressed, right? I get discouraged about it. So when you're depressed and discouraged, what do you do? Watch TV and eat.
That will solve the problem. So then you gain weight you don't want, put stuff in your mind that is more motivating, then you go look in the mirror and say, I don't like this person that I'm becoming. So what are you going to do? I'll eat some chocolate and watch more TV, I'll go out to eat.
Now I'll take a vacation. And guess what you're doing? You're creating and developing habit patterns about how you face difficulty, how you face rejection, how you face hurt, how you face disappointment.
And you just play out that habit for the next 10, 15 or 20 years and that is a person you'll become. And it's a small little thing to say, do I feel like doing it now? See, we're into the feeling, feeling, feeling. If I did what I thought I'd never get anything done.
Feelings are the caboose, not the engine. Tell you what, you do it now, you make the hard conversation, you take the initiative, guess what? Don't you feel better? Isn't it nice to have a, you know, and this is, now by the way, those of you a little perfectionistic and obsessive, take this in stride, okay?
Some of you got color-coded hangers, all the shirts go the same way, you know, you know, this is a little balance here. Do it now. Finally, turn it off. This is the principle of restoration.
Turn it off. Hebrews chapter 4, 9 to 11 says, for there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for the one who has entered his rest has himself also, notice, rested from what? Rested from his work as God did from his. Therefore, let us, circle the phrase, be diligent. This does not come easy, especially for us. Let us be diligent, what? To enter that rest.
Why? So that no one will fall through following the same example of disobedience. If you study that passage carefully, what you find is, is that the Sabbath was always a faith issue. In other words, it was that feeling, oh, we can't stop, all those other people are working, you know, they're open seven days a week, we're only open six days a week, this could never work, right Chick-fil-A?
This could never work. See, the Sabbath was all about trusting God. The Sabbath was like a ring on Israel to say, they belong to me and you know what, I take care of them and they learn to trust me. Now, Jesus will come back and say, the Sabbath is a gift to man.
It's not a list of rules and regulations. In Colossians 2, we'll learn that, hey, you know what, it's the principle that's in practice in New Testament believers. You want to make your Sabbath on Monday, you can make it on Friday, different people have different days, but you need to honor the Sabbath principle. The early church would begin celebrating on the first day of the week on Sunday.
And so there's no law for the Sabbath, but the principle of rest, one out of seven days to do what? Are you ready? This is going to be scary, sort of hold, lean back, lean back, this is going to hurt.
One out of seven days, are you ready? Watch this. It does turn off. My cell phone's off. I'm not indispensable. The world can go on without me. I can turn off my mind, turn off my gifts, not have some religious set of rules, but to stop and look back like God did on his work and say, Lord, what have you done this week?
To reflect, to go outside and let the sun hit your face, to take a walk with people that you love, to be refreshed, to spend additional time with God. And if it works on Sunday, great. Is there an occasional day in emergency? Well, of course, Jesus said, if an ox gets in the ditch, you know, don't get legalistic about it, but I got to tell you that it has saved my life. And some of you can probably imagine I was a workaholic in my early years. And see, there's a huge difference between having drive and being driven.
And the only way to not be driven is to stop and develop the habit, go home and be a man, be a woman, be a husband, be a mother. You don't have to be on call all the time and turn your gift off. Turn your gift off and don't always have to produce something.
Be restored and renewed and refreshed. And are you ready? Enjoy great moments. You're saying you don't have time. God commands you to take, you know, one seventh of your life and enjoy great moments. Enjoy him, enjoy others. Enjoy a great meal. Enjoy the beauty of nature.
Enjoy a little trip. How? Write it down, plan it in.
Application for you is very, very simple. It's this. I'd like you to identify the one bad habit that you think carried out over a number of years is really going to come back and bite you. And I'd like you to get that written on a sheet of paper and say, I got to break this. And then I'd like you to take one of these six, not all six, you know, one of these six where the Spirit of God says to you, this is the one I want you to develop. This is the one for where you're at in your life right now with the issues that you're facing, you know, and just sit quietly.
Lord, show me. And then you need to find a person that will help keep you accountable and then need to come up with a little plan and then don't get discouraged. It's going to, you have been working on these bad habits for a long time.
They're hard to break, right? So don't get discouraged, but begin to arrange your life to break the most difficult one and then go into training to develop these habits. And as you do them, just one at a time, whatever one that you think will help the most, you know what you'll find? I've developed a lifestyle. I'm meeting with God. Well, as I meet with God, I pray great prayers and I think great thoughts and I'm reading great books and you know, I'm taking out the trash.
And as I take out the trash, you know what? I just see God is beginning to help me to make great sacrifices and pursue great people and I'm doing my own dishes and you'll just find all the things we've talked about will become a reality, a part of just the rhythm of your life. They won't happen overnight.
Great Christians are oak trees, not weeds. It takes time. It takes purpose. Takes intentionality.
It takes discipline. And it all comes from God's grace. Chip will be right back with his application for this message, Develop Great Habits, from his series Good to Great in God's Eyes. In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus said, whoever wants to become great among you must what? Through this series, Chip explores what greatness means to God by highlighting 10 crucial practices he says are vital. Now, if you're looking to dive deeper into the subject, let me encourage you to check out Chip's book or our small group study. These are perfect tools to help jumpstart your faith.
To learn more about these resources, go to livingontheedge.org, the Chip Ingram app, or call 888-333-6003. Our Bible teacher Chip Ingram is with me now and Chip, as you know, this series is one of our more popular ones. We receive a ton of emails and calls about how Good to Great in God's Eyes is really changing people's lives. So if you would take a minute and share how series like this one fit into the broader mission of the ministry.
Sure, Dave. At Living on the Edge, we do three things for three groups for one purpose. One, we teach God's Word to as many people as possible through radio, small group resources, online tools like our app, and in partnerships internationally all around the world. Second, we train Christians to go deeper with teaching resources and small group studies. And three, we develop tools for leaders, for pastors and business leaders to help them impact their worlds and beyond.
We do all these things for one purpose, to help Christians live like Christians. Now here's my question. If you were impacted today by the Ministry of Living on the Edge, would you be willing to partner with us? We can't do this without the support of partners like you. And as you do, we will change lives, we will spread God's truth around the world, and we will help Christians live like Christians. Here's my question. Would you join us?
Thanks, Chip. Well, if Living on the Edge is ministering to you and you've not yet partnered with us financially, would you prayerfully consider doing that today? It takes a team to do what God's called us to do, and we're inviting you to help us help Christians live like Christians. To send a gift or to become a monthly partner, go to LivingOnTheEdge.org or text the word DONATE to 74141. It's that easy. Text DONATE to 74141 or visit LivingOnTheEdge.org.
App listeners just tap DONATE. We greatly appreciate your support. Chip, as we wrap up this entire series, what would you say to those people who really want to go from being a good Christian to a great one, but are a little overwhelmed with all the practices you laid out? Well, Dave, let me review the habits and then give a word of caution and a word of wisdom. The habits are great Christians think great thoughts, read great books, pursue great people, dream great dreams, pray great prayers, take great risks, make great sacrifices, enjoy great moments, empower great people, and develop great habits. This is a profile, if you will.
These are step-by-step, taking these things in order. Different people are coming into the series at a different time. Some of you are thinking great thoughts and reading good things and you need a person in your life or you need to pray. Some of you are workaholic Christians and you're going like crazy.
You need to enjoy great moments. What I would encourage you to see is these habits are means of grace. These are tools that God has given us not to prove that we love Him, not to get ahead of other people. These are ways or means that God has provided to shape our hearts, transform our minds, that cause our character, our love, our peace, our relationships to improve first with God and then with others.
This is not a new bar that you have to jump over to become a great person. This is the grace of God. This is Jesus calling out to you, coming to me, all you that are weary. Let me show you a pattern of living, a rhythm, if you will.
In ancient times it was called a rule of life. Get involved in living out these practices in a calm, loving way to develop intimacy with Christ and love for others. And you're going to find a very gentle Savior that will change you from the inside out. Well as we close, you know a great way to get plugged in with our resources here at Living on the Edge is through the Chip Ingram app. There you can listen to past series, sign up for daily discipleship and much more. Let us help you experience God in a new personal way starting today with the Chip Ingram app. Well for Chip and the entire team, I'm Dave Drewey saying thanks for listening to this Edition of Living on the Edge.
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