Head, Heart, Hands, and…

I’m increasingly convinced that for lots of issues, the battle isn’t over whether people know they ought to do something; they frequently just don’t know how.

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The three often come together these days, and I’ve even used them as a basic template for sermon application: ‘Head’ means that people understand the teaching points; ‘Heart’ means that they are gripped by the import of it, that they are affected rather than just informed, and ‘Hands’ means that they can see the implications of it, and are determined to act.

When the people heard this (head), they were cut to the heart (heart) and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” (hands – repent and be baptised) Acts 2:37.

It’s neat, tidy, and helpful.  Don’t stop using it.

But I want to add a fourth ‘H’ to the list.  I’m actually undecided whether it is totally separate, or a subset of Hands; but it’s become increasingly clear as something we need to address as part of helping people with their discipleship.

Habits

Getting people out of the guilt of ‘I ought to read my bible, but I can’t find the time,’ into a regular, sustainable routine.

Getting people out of patting their pockets vaguely when we talk about giving, into a rhythm, based on their wages, or pension, or allowances.

You know that it’s true in so many aspects of life: the people who get fit aren’t those who take out an expensive gym membership in January; they’re the people who find a way, two or three times a week, of stretching, swimming, lifting, running, over a year.  The people who lose weight aren’t those who go on a diet, they’re those who change their diet, long-term.  

You know, too, that that’s how it goes with discipleship.  You know when you’re with someone who has read every book of the bible dozens of times, because they started well as a student and just kept on going.  You know when you’re with someone who has influenced tens of lives by their quiet 1:1 discipleship.  You know when you’re with someone who has a wide, deep, rich understanding of a doctrine, because they’ve read about it, properly, for years

So, preachers, let’s help people with their habits, shall we?

Because I’m increasingly convinced that for lots of issues, the battle isn’t over whether people know they ought to do something; they frequently just don’t know how.

Do-able discipleship. (And, no, that’s not about giving into works-righteousness, it’s not about lowering standards of holiness, and it’s not semi-Pelagianism. It’s about saying that if the bible says Christians ought  to be doing something, helping them in their current life-stage to be able to do it, gladly and guilt-free).

What tools can we give people, to make praying for their lost friends a habit?

What tools can we give people, to make stopping swearing a habit?

If you want to know where to start in your own thinking, try The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg, or Atomic Habits, by James Clear. They’ll show you how small, regular choices are more powerful than big, exhausting ones.

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