There is a quote that gets attributed to various management thinkers, and it basically says:
The sytems you have in place are perfectly designed to give you the results you are receiving.various
Think about your morning routine for a moment. What is the first thing you do once you are past that half-asleep/half-waking state? And then what? What do the first 15 or 30 minutes of the day look like generally?
There’s no judgement. Don’t waste time thinking, “I should do this, but I do that”. I’m not trying to get you to change your morning routine in any way. The point is that over time a series of events or individuals have influenced you, and you have made decisions, which have become routine.
And routines are good. Imagine if everyday tasks required your complete focus and mental capacity. Making the coffee, brushing your teeth, taking a shower, getting dressed. These are all things we do with almost no attention paid to them. Of course, this means we sometimes put the scoop of coffee in our orange juice, but in general, the time saved not having to think about these tasks is worth the dumb mistake now and again.
Imagine if tomorrow, when you shower, you had to wash the arm you usually wash second, first. When you get dressed, if you put your left leg in your trousers first, tomorrow you have to begin with your right—every part of your routine from getting out of bed until lunch is changed. If the incentive was large enough, you could probably manage it, but it would take a great deal of time and mental energy. And still, it is likely you would forget because our habits are powerful.
Now, let’s move beyond the morning. Think about your interactions with others. From your partner, and kids, to your friends and co-workers. The person who cuts you off in traffic. The person who differs with you concerning faith, politics, your favourite team, or any other item you consider central to who you are?
Beyond how you interact with them…which does matter, the critical question is, how did you get there?
When we go into a marriage, we quickly learn how much our spouse was formed (good and bad) by their parents. (And hopefully, just as quickly, we grasp the same about us.) Our ability to deal with conflict and handle frustration was modelled for a couple of decades and shaped us.
And when those responses become problematic, and we struggle to stop, we visit a professional who can, if we are willing to put in the work, point out the problems in our formation. And then begin to teach us new patterns that will form us in more healthy ways.
And many of these practices feel unnatural at first. But, if we stick with them, they start to feel more normal, and at some point, hopefully, we begin to notice a change in how we respond in various situations. We realise that what used to trigger anger now is a reminder to pause and take a deep breath. What used to lead to an argument leads to a smile.
Last week I shared a quote from Dallas Willard, and I want to bring it in again.
“We each become a certain kind of person in the depths of our being, gaining a specific type of character. And that is the outcome of a process of spiritual formation as understood in general human terms that apply to everyone, whether they want it or not.”
Renovation of the Heart (pp.19–20)
The question I want to pose today is simply this….what is forming you?
What is it that over the week shapes how you interact with people? How do you interact with Jesus? What influences how you invest in and care for yourself?
Are you more loving than you were five years ago? Are you more patient, or do you find yourself more easily frustrated? Are you becoming more reflective and less reactive?
So again, what is forming you? And do you like the results you are seeing?