The Surprising Power of Habits: Important Conversation with My Younger Self, #5

God Running is a place for anyone who wants to (or even anyone who wants to want to) love Jesus more deeply, follow Jesus more closely, and love people the way Jesus wants us to.

If you’ve been around the God Running blog for more than a few weeks, you know I sometimes travel back in time, to have conversations with my younger self. Today I’m going to share my most recent conversation.

Old Kurt (a bit too cheerfully): Hi! It’s me again!

Young Kurt looks slightly annoyed.

Old Kurt: “So I want to share something with you today that’s way more important than you now realize.”

Young Kurt: “Yeah, so what is it?”

Old Kurt: “Habits.”

Young Kurt: “That’s it, habits?”

Old Kurt: “Yes, habits.”

There’s a long moment of awkward silence.

Old Kurt: “Well so, I’ll get right to it then. I just want to say that all the habits you’re developing right now, the good ones, the bad ones, most every one, they’re all habits you’ll live with during the final third of your life.”

Young Kurt: “What do you mean? Why do I have to live with them.”

Old Kurt: “You’ll have to live with them because your habits are like a track worn in a mountain bike trail or a groove in a vinyl record. Right now you’re creating those tracks or grooves. When you’re older, you’ll live within those tracks and grooves. And it’s often difficult to find your way out of those tracks and grooves. This can be good or bad. If you’re a smoker–and of course I know you’re not, but just as an example–if you’re a smoker, it’s unlikely you’ll quit smoking in the last half or final third of your life. If you pray at a set time every day, say when you first wake up in the morning, if it’s well established, it’s unlikely you’ll stop that prayer routine later in life.”

Young Kurt: “So are you saying the habits I develop now will influence my life later? That seems pretty obvious, don’t you think?”

Old Kurt: “I’m saying it goes way beyond that. I’m saying the habits you establish now are, to a very great extent, what builds out your future life and your future self.”

Young Kurt: “OK, let’s say I’m believing what you said. I’m a busy guy, as you know, so give me just one habit I can form that will help me to build the best possible future life.”

Old Kurt: “That’s an easy call to make. The absolute best habit you can form now is the habit of constantly seeking out the most Christlike people you can find and connecting yourself to them. To quote something your son Gabe will say in the future: ‘You become who you hang with, that’s for sure.’ For that reason, this is the most important thing you can do for yourself. Develop the habit of investing your time and energy into finding people who follow Jesus as closely as possible and then find ways to become personally close with those people.”

Young Kurt: “So, that’s a pretty big commitment.”

Old Kurt: “I didn’t say it would be easy. But it’s not as hard as it sounds. Anyway, the habit thing. It’s huge. I think maybe that’s why self discipline and self control are so emphasized in the Bible. In 1 Corinthians chapter nine, Paul talks about how runners develop self discipline to run their race and win the prize.

“If you want to run your best, attach yourself to the runners who are the best at training to run.”

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