Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Making or Breaking of a Habit

Some of my friends and I have been studying through The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges. It's been a wonderful study that challenges and encourages us each week. This week we discussed holiness of spirit and habits of holiness. Bridges gives 4 principles that can help us to make or break a habit, though he adds that we must not try this in our own strength or it will be doomed to fail.

Principles for Making or Breaking a Habit

1. Frequent repitition.

2. Never let an exception occur.

3. Diligence in all areas is required to ensure success in one area.

4. Don't be discouraged by failure.

The context in The Pursuit of Holiness is that of breaking sinful habits and forming holy habits, but the principles apply to all kinds of habits.

Do you know what I'm thinking? I'm thinking it's going to be pretty hard to make a habit of our homeschool schedule when we do let exceptions occur. I'm also thinking that we need to be diligent in all subjects or they will all suffer to some degree. Now that I think about it, I'm also a little discouraged because exceptions do happen and we are less diligent in some subjects.

However, Bridges wasn't applying these principles to homeschooling or schedules. And certainly when trying to break a habit of sin it's infinitely more important to be consistent and diligent, but principles are principles. They're principles for a reason. The reason is they're usually true.

On the bright side, the holy habits we're practicing in our homeschool of Bible reading, memorization, catechizing, and character training can be accomplished morning, noon, or night. When something comes up, like the two doctor's appointments that came up this morning, these holy habits can be practiced in the afternoon. The main thing is that they are repeated. Frequent repitition is the key.

I'm also encouraged because I know that in our homeschool not all subjects are created equal. It's not like godly habits or the fruits of the spirit. As Christians we need to pray and study our Bibles and go to church. To leave out one of those habits is to miss a large part of the Christian life. And to have love and joy without self-control makes for a sweet Christian that isn't of much use. However, it's different with school. Some subjects we study deserve greater diligence than others. For instance, character training is more important than math. And, oh how I love math! The Bible is more important than language arts. It wouldn't make much sense for us to expend more energy teaching our children how to communicate than what to communicate, would it?

So, once again I've come away challenged and encouraged by Bridges. I'm challenged to make the formation of holy habits in my children and myself our top priority. I'm challenged to be diligent with my children in this one area above all others. And I'm encouraged that when we don't fit everything into our day, it doesn't mean I'm a failure. I'm not a failure of a mother or a failure of a teacher. It simply means we failed to stick to the schedule that day. And that is not a sin!

1 comment:

  1. I have been thinking about this post a lot. I read somewhere that a schedule was a tool to use, but we shouldn't be a slave to our schedule. Especially the more children you have, the more things can come up! I am trying more of a detailed schedule this year than ever before, and it is my guideline, but I think since the start of school 9 weeks ago, we have only hit it close to perfect, maybe twice! Sick kids, activities, you name it. But, I feel the most organized and together than any of my previous 9 years! So, it is helping, and I am still tweaking it as we go.
    That book sounds good. I will have to check it out!



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I'm an on-the-run mom to 6 kids who studied and taught exercise science in a previous life. I love all things running, nutrition, and health-related. I usually run at zero dark thirty in the morning and am often quite hungry before, during, and after my run, but I live a rich, full, blessed life with my children, family, and friends. My faith in God is my anchor, and looking to Him and His promises allows me to live fully even when life circumstances are difficult. While running gives me an appetite, my desire is to hunger and thirst for righteousness more than for physical food.