Monday, September 10, 2012

Pastorgraphs: “Watch Your Habits”


E-Vangel Newsletter
September 10, 2012

Pastorgraphs: “Watch Your Habits”

Have you heard the old saying, “We are creatures of habit”? Think for a moment of someone you know who has poor habits. Maybe it is a co-worker who does his/her work sloppily. Maybe it is a relative who continually makes “bad choices”.

Anita gave me a clipping last week with a familiar quotation you probably have seen:

“Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.” (Anon)

Aristotle said much the same thing as he wrestled with understanding ethics and integrity. “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” ~ Aristotle.

Habits are not blind routines, reducing life to a series of rather boring, but good, routines. The word Aristotle used for habit is often translated as virtue. That is why developing good habits is, as he put it, the only way to live the good life, or what he identified as “happiness”.

We all have good habits and bad habits. We struggle to get rid of the bad ones, and work to develop more of the good ones.

Here are some ideas that may be helpful as you consider your habits.
  1. Do not be guided by your feelings and emotions. (Your feelings may be the worst enemy of good habits)
  2. Do what is right. (Have the courage to do the right thing, even if it is unpopular or difficult)
  3. Do what needs doing now, not tomorrow. (Don’t procrastinate)
  4. Do what you do to the best of your ability. (Don’t settle for less than excellence, even in small tasks)
  5. Do what you do for the right reason. (Don’t act out of jealousy, anger, malice, etc.)
  6. Do not cut corners. (Most tragedies– the Shuttle explosion, the BP disaster -  occur when someone takes a short cut, and doesn’t “completely” do their job)
  7. Do choose wisely. (Habits are choices, and no one else is responsible for your habits)
  8. Do discipline yourself. (While we should not delay in doing tasks, we should learn to delay our gratification – as in saving for retirement, not eating a dessert that has more calories than the meal, etc.)
  9. Do enjoy what you do. (Although it requires effort to do your best, you will reap the rewards that only come from giving it your best effort)
  10. Do what you do “heartily” and “mightily”:
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” (Colossians 3:23)
“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.” (Ecclesiastes 9:10)

When we develop the habit of doing the right thing, in the right way, at the right time, for the right reason, it becomes easier for us to develop more good habits, and improve the ones we already have. Good habits become our routine, or norm; and they become your character.

Ethics are how you think (our beliefs, values, principles and ideals). Your virtues are your actions, your habits. Your habits reveal who you are; your character and integrity.

Now get out there and make DOING EXCELLENCE a habit!

Bless you, one and all, Brother Bill

From the Quote Garden:
“We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly.” ~ Aristotle

Christ United Methodist Ministry Center
“Christ in the Heart of San Diego”
3295 Meade Avenue - San Diego, CA 92116 - (619) 284-9205

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