When I ran my first 10K race, I wasn’t prepared. I’d gone for a few runs, but didn’t follow a training plan. I completed the race through sheer determination and a lot of walking breaks. I didn’t have a plan, and it showed. Limping across the finish line counted for something, but was less than what I wanted.
I couldn’t progress in my running if I didn’t begin to build regular habits into my preparation.
It’s the same in every area of life. We want to change. Desire is good, but not enough. We need a plan.
A Plan for Change
One of the keys to change — deep, meaningful change — is to build practices into our lives that create that change. We need a plan: a way to incorporate practices into our lives that help us become the people we’d like to be.
To prepare for the 10K, I needed a simple plan: run this far on this day, and then rest. The plan would have taken me — a couch potato — and gradually prepared me so that I could easily accomplish the goal I’d set. The key: a rhythm of simple, doable practices that lead to the desired results. A simple online search would have given me the plan I needed.
It’s the same with our desire for growth. Many of us want to change. We want to grow closer to God. We want to become more patient and loving. We want to improve our relationships. We want to operate out of a heart that’s content rather than one that’s frazzled and stressed.
We won’t get there without a plan, without a rhythm of simple, doable practices. But when we find a set of simple practices that work, and actually begin to practice them, we will start to see the change we desire in our lives.
Don’t miss out on the simple path to growth: find a rhythm of simple, doable practices that will help you become the person God wants you to be. Keep repeating these regularly so that they become a natural part of your life.
Three Simple Practices
So what are some practices that can help?
No matter how complicated things get, we believe there are three core practices that are foundational to growth. We never grow beyond them. We can add to these practices, but we must always return to them.
You’ll notice that these practices aren’t fancy. In fact, they seem kind of boring. Some people call them ordinary means. Ordinary captures how unspectacular they are. Means emphasizes that they aren’t an end in themselves. They aren’t the point. Instead, they help keep our focus on the point.
So what are some practices that can help? Here are three key practices that help us to grow:
- Read or listen to the Bible. Find out what works for you. Some people like listening to a good audio Bible. Others like following a structured reading plan. Some like opening the Bible and reading for as much time as they have available that day. Regular input of God’s Word in our lives is crucial. Find a way that works for you. Don’t underestimate the power of regularly reading or listening to the Bible.
- Pray. Tell God what’s on your mind. Share your anxieties and concerns. Praise him. Thank him. Pray at certain times during the day, as well as spontaneously when it comes to mind. Keep an ongoing conversation with God going throughout your day.
- Commit to worship and community within a local church. Don’t live the Christian life on your own. Find others who will walk with you. Worship together. Listen to preaching. Share your joys and your struggles. Don’t just attend a church; begin to get involved by building relationships and sharing your life with others.
These three core practices are essential for every follower of Jesus Christ: for the beginner, and for the most mature believer. We’ve noticed that people who engage in these three practices tend to grow, while those who don’t tend to stop growing. They are core practices that are essential for anyone who wants to grow to become the person that God is calling them to be.
Here are some simple steps you can take to create a plan for your own growth.
- Take stock. Which of these three practices are you already practicing? Be honest and compassionate. Don’t get down on yourself if they’re not a regular part of your life. Just recognize where you are right now so you can take the next step.
- Pick one. Don’t get overwhelmed. Pick just one. If you haven’t found a good church, we recommend that you start there so that you can get support from others as you grow. Pick one of these core practices to focus on right now.
- Start small. Look for ways to begin to build that practice into your life regularly. Shrink the practice until it’s so small that you can’t help but succeed. To start reading or listening to the Bible or praying, start with just a few minutes a day and build from there. Look for ways to shrink the practice until you practice it so consistently that it becomes a habit.
- Repeat. Repeat with the other practices, as slowly as needed, until all three become a regular part of your life.
We’ll dig deeper into these three practices in the coming weeks. If you’re interested in learning more, preorder my book How to Grow: Applying the Gospel to ALL of Life (to be released August 7, 2018).
Keep practicing these three practices, and they will help you become the person God wants you to be.