How to Change a Habit One Step at a Time
But reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness. For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come (1 Timothy 4:7-8).
Godliness produces change that impacts life right now! Phillips translation of the latter part of verse 7 above reads: take time and trouble to keep yourselves spiritually fit. The New American Standard Bible of the same verse reads: On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.
The Word of God will have an impact on your personal daily habits if you’ll take the time and trouble to get into the Word and let the Word get into you! God gave us the capacity of habit to keep life from being difficult.
A habit is something that is done so frequently that it can be performed without conscious thought. We all have personal daily habits that affect our routines throughout the day. We prepare for our day pretty much the same way each day after day. Many things in our jobs become routine and habitual. And our ways of relating to ourselves and others can become entrenched in habitual patterns of thought and response.
We also develop bad habits that harm us and those around us. These habits can keep us from God’s best. Here are some tips that will help you break a bad habit, be it a habit of thought, word, or action.
Breaking a habit is a three step process. The first step is to catch the habit after the fact. It’s becoming aware that you’re even doing something wrong! That’s where the Word comes into play. Find scriptures that deal with the area of life you’re challenged with, write them down and read them over and over again; that is, meditate on them. That will sensitize you to the need to change that area of life.
The second step to changing a habit is to catch yourself in the middle of it! Once the Word is in you, conviction to change comes. And breaking a habit takes time. Just keep catching yourself after the fact, and eventually you’ll begin to see what you’re doing that’s wrong right while you’re involved in it!
The third and last step to breaking a habit is to catch yourself just before you start to do it. This is all a process that may take weeks of time. Psychologists tell us it takes three to four week to begin forming new habits. So start the process and work yourself through it.
Habits are changed by replacement. Don’t concentrate on the negative, concentrate on filling yourself with the Word, and then making a choice to repent the moment you see that you’re violating God’s Word in your life. This works in any area: thoughts, verbal responses, emotions, or physical habits.
I’ve used this three step principle for years in my own life and can vouch for its effectiveness. I’ve changed colloquial expressions I’ve picked up from others, habits of gossip when I was first saved, mental traits of believing the worst of others, all sorts of wrong patterns of response to others, workaholic tendencies, perfectionist patterns, and all sorts of physical habits by using these three follow through principles.
Catch yourself and repent after the fact. Catch yourself and repent in the middle of a wrong action. Then you’ll catch yourself just before the engrained habit pushes you to action. That’s how the power of the Word can change you from the inside out. Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.