Heart Follows Habits


Do you ever wake up and not feel like doing what you know you should do? Of course! Welcome to the club!

We often think that we need to feel like doing something before we do it. The problem: we don’t always feel like doing what we know we should. Sometimes the key is to act. Our desires have a way of following our actions.

Right now I’m sitting in a coffee shop. I’m wearing workout shorts, fitness shirt, and running shoes. After I complete some work, I will head out for a short run. I don’t feel like running, but I know I need to run in order to meet my goal. This weekend I’m running a triathlon spring. If I’m going to be ready, I need to run today even if I don’t feel like it.

Here’s the thing, though: After I start running, I will enjoy it. By the time I’m done I’ll not only have benefited from the run, but I will actually look forward to the next run.

We don’t desire our way to becoming the people we’d like to be, at least initially. First we act, and then our desires follow.

  • Don’t feel like praying? Start praying. Build the habit, and you will begin to shape your heart to want to pray.
  • Don’t want to read Scripture? We’ve all been there. Read some anyway. Over time you will find yourself becoming the kind of person who likes to read Scripture.
  • Don’t feel like going to church? I get it! Getting involved in a church community is costly and time-consuming. Get involved anyway, and soon you won’t be able to imagine life without it.

I recently read of a couple that moved to a new city. They loved everything about their new church except for the preaching. The preaching was over their heads and too long. They complained to the teaching elder.

The teaching elder told them to give it six months, and then talk to him again. He figured that during the six months the couple would grow to be able to process and enjoy the sermons.

That’s exactly what happened.

Over the six-month time period, our appetite for the Word of God began to grow by leaps and bounds. At the end of those six months, not only were we processing his sermons, we were hungering for them— delighting in them.

Their desires followed their behaviors. They didn’t just acquire new habits. They acquired new desires and new capacities.

Later they moved back to their previous home, to a church they’d previously enjoyed.

After listening to the sermon only a few minutes, they both recognized that they now had a different “spiritual palate.” They longed for more— something deeper. They wanted to hear the Word of God. What Steve had experienced under faithful exposition was a reformation. Their view of spirituality had shifted from an almost selfish concern for their own private well-being to an adoration for the living God, his character, his will, and his works. (Encountering God Through Expository Preaching)

Want to change and grow? Don’t start with your desires. Start with behaviors, and hang in with the temporary discomfort. Soon you’ll find that your desires change, and that you won’t want to go back.

Heart Follows Habits
Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash

I'm a grateful husband, father, oupa, and pastor of Grace Fellowship Church Don Mills. I love learning, writing, and encouraging. I'm on a lifelong quest to become a humble, gracious old man.
Toronto, Canada