Home > Uncategorized > Stuff a Small Group Leader should know pt.3 : Disciplines vs. Habits

Stuff a Small Group Leader should know pt.3 : Disciplines vs. Habits

We continue our ongoing series of stuff a small group leader should know. This one is useful both as a tool to keep your small group from avoiding “routine” and to keep you personally from putting the gospel on cruise control in your life. Today we talk about

Spiritual Disciplines vs. Spiritual Habits

I’ve been trying for some time to work out this principle because I experience it on a regular basis as a follower of Christ who is also a habit loving human. I love the routines I have in my life. Take showering for example. I have a showering routine. Warm the water up, get in facing away from the water, rinse, shampoo, wash body, rinse shampoo, finish Bohemian Rhapsody Chorus, and get out.

Why do I love this routine? because I dont have to think about it. I can go through the motions, get the job done, and not have thought about a thing. I rarely forget to do it, but I exert no thought towards it. Does that make sense?

Sometimes personally I can get into a spiritual routine. I crack open my bible, let my eyes go over a chapter of a book, shut it and pray for my family, my church, my friends, and world peace. On the surface, I appear like a pretty mature christian right? I mean I “read” my bible and I “pray” every day. Or at least, I go through the routine. I even sing the songs on Sunday at church. All of em. Every week. Another place for routine to kick in. I pay my tithe every month online through bill-pay. Another routine.

The spiritual disciplines (bible study, prayer, fasting, worship, evangelism, tithing, etc) are called disciplines because they require mental engagement. One must discipline himself or herself because he or she is not naturally inclined to fully engage such an exercise. We are CREATED to carry out these disciplines as they are all forms of worship, but our sin nature pulls us away from these acts of worship. (Paul expresses this struggle in the second half of Romans 7)

So here is my point: A group leader has got to fight against spiritual habit. Going through the motions is Satans way of pulling you away from communion with God himself. Fight it. As John Piper said at Advance09 this past weekend: “You will not know what prayer is for until you know that life is war.” Something like that.

You and your people are in a constant spiritual battle. Discipline your heart and mind to ENGAGE the scriptures, to pray with conviction and specificity, to make your words a concious conduit of your faith in your worship, to consider the sacrifice of the gospel in your tithe, to feast on Christ in your fasting, and most of all to rejoice in your salvation as you tell others.

You were created for worship. you are in a war. avoid cruise control at all costs.

  1. June 11, 2009 at 7:11 am


    First of all, I’m glad you shower! Thank you for that.

    I’ve not drawn much distinction between “discipline” and “habit”. They have been interchangeable to me. I like your main idea on keeping our spiritual life in out of the autopilot mode.

    We talk about good / bad habits. We don’t seem to talk about good / bad disciplines.

    And “discipline” is not a commonly used word by a lot of people. I get it and employ it.

    I was wondering, if there is some contemporary equivalent to the the word “discipline”?


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