I want to be healthier, but sometimes the convenience of a drive-through restaurant overcomes that desire. I was coming home from another town and stopped at a local burger joint to pick up a quick lunch for my wife and I. While waiting in the line of cars, I began to notice the people walking out of the restaurant. They all seemed similar: uncomfortable, unsmiling, and unhealthy.
Instantly it occurred to me that although I didn’t want to be like them, I was in the same place they were, doing the same thing they were doing. I was on the same path, headed for the same destination. I was already a few degrees over the line of overweight according to my doctor.
I used to think that developing habits depended on our personalities. Some people would have an easier time breaking bad habits and cultivating good ones because they were more driven, more disciplined, or more passionate. But it has more to do with what our context is. If we’re in a context that encourages bad habits and stifles good ones, we will develop bad habits regardless of our personalities.
If the determining factor of habit development is our context, then the key to changing our behavior is changing our context. The word “behave” is made of two words: “be” and “have”. If we want to be healthier, for example, then we should “be” where healthy people are and eventually we will “have” what healthy people have. On the other hand, if we “be” where unhealthy people are (in the drive-through restaurant), we will “have” what they have. To change the kind of person we are, we have to behave like the person we want to be.
This applies to our spiritual lives too. If we want to be a more mature Christian, we have so many examples of Christian living set for us in the Scriptures. The chief of these is the example of Jesus Himself. We can look at how He lived and imitate Him. This is what obedience to God is – to follow Jesus Christ.
If you’re noticing the path you’re on is heading to a destination you don’t want to end up in, it’s never too late to change paths. Find the people who you want to be like. What do they do? Eventually, small habits will lead to bigger behavior changes.