Can you say that you are truly satisfied with the way you live, or the habits you have formed? If we’re honest, most of us can’t answer that question with a positively. We often live from crisis to crisis, from reaction to reaction, or from bad habit to bad habit.
The opposite of reactionary living (responding to the circumstances life brings) is intentional living (having a plan and being disciplined enough to stick to it).
There will be times in life when you are hit with a fast-pitch curve ball, and things will happen that we least expect to happen. Even then, though, we can live intentionally in how we respond. The Bible teaches us that there is a war going on—not against flesh and blood—but against the spiritual forces of this world (Eph. 6:2). We are at war everyday with our own flesh (Gal 5:17). What you want to do, you don’t do, and what you don’t want to do, you find yourself doing (Rom. 7:15).
We live this way primarily because of sin, but also because of the bad habits we have formed. We don’t necessarily live each day from decision to decision, but from habit to habit—whether positive or negative, good or bad.
For example, when you’re at a restaurant, you might habitually order a coke instead of water. Or you might wake up in the morning with just the right amount of time to shower, jump in the car, and leave for work—with no wiggle-room for morning devotions or a morning workout . . . or any morning routine.
Even though you might have formed the habit of waking up late (or just being late everywhere you go), the habit you’ve formed the night before effects the habits you have in the mornings.. Think about it this way: You stay up late watching a movie, and then you sleep late. From here, you find yourself in a hurry to get to work on time, drive a little too fast to work, and then yell at a co-worker because you’re tired and grumpy. It all started the night before when you chose to stay up late and watch a movie instead of go to bed at a reasonable hour to be rested for the next day’s events.
At this point, you may be asking, “How is this a gospel issue?” When we talk about using our time well, we are talking about stewardship and dominion-taking issues. Taking dominion over your life also involves how you spend your time—how you redeem your time. It’s a Genesis 2-3 issue, redeemed in Christ. When we understand that Jesus changes everything, the gospel will affect all areas of our lives.
So, again, we all want to live with healthy, gospel-centered, and life-giving habits, but how can we do so? Here a few ways to go beast mode:
1. Plan out your week—every bit of it.
Here’s what this looks like for me. On Sunday evenings, I sit down with my computer and plan out my week. I sit down and plan out these things:
- Days and times I will exercise
- Breakfasts and lunches
- Doctoral work
- Other writing and work endeavors
- What I’m reading and learning that week
- Date night with my wife
- Daddy-daughter date (every Friday morning)
- And more . . .
Also on Sunday night, my wife and I have a “family council.” At this scheduled weekly meeting, we plan out our meals for the week, our calendar, our evenings at home, our date nights, our budget, relational nights with friends and family, etc. We want to be intentional about our week, not reactionary. This helps monumentally with communication.
On Mondays, I pretty much meet with people all day (from 9am to 5pm), but I prepare for those meetings before I go into them, because for me, they effect the rest of the week.
2. Plan for the next day the night before.
Before I go to bed each night, I plan out the next day. I look at my schedule (both morning, work, and evening) then get ready for the next day.
For instance, my Monday schedule looks like this on most Mondays:
- 5:30am | Wake up and Bible Reading
- 6am | Morning routine and get ready to leave
- 7am | CrossFit
- 8am | Allergy Shots (I’m literally allergic to the world), Kroger (for the weeks essentials), and get ready at the office
Work Schedule at FC
- 9am | Check-in meeting
- 9:30am to 1:00pm | Executive Tactical Meeting and Executive Lunch
- 1:30pm to 2:45pm | Student Ministry Team Meeting
- 2:45pm to 3:45 | Family Ministry Team Meeting
- 4pm to 5pm | Staff Workout
- 5:30pm | Family Time
- 9:30pm | Nightly Routine
- 10pm-ish | Read and bed
Call me weird, but if I don’t plan accordingly like this, then I start to become reactionary over my time. I am prone to wonder . . . be lazy . . . procrastinate . . . be selfish with my time . . . get lost in entertainment. Planning out my days like this allows me to be disciplined, develop healthy habits for my life, and use my time in a redemptive manner.
3. Keep track of your tasks and plan them out accordingly.
It doesn’t matter if you’re relationally-oriented or task-oriented, you need a system for keeping up with everything you “have to get done.” Some people use a moleskin notebook, while others use a task-management app on their computers and phones.
Find what works for you and stick to it. The last thing you want is to be known as someone who lets things fall through the crack because you aren’t intentional about writing things down and getting them done.
I use a task management system that allows me to schedule tasks out into the future. This allows me to plan accordingly, as well as know exactly what I need to get done that day, without having a million other things looming. I put the tasks in my system, plan my upcoming days, then go about my current day as planned.
4. Let your calendar serve you. Don’t serve it.
Here’s the deal with this—don’t be such a stickler that you can’t let unplanned things come up from time to time. Processes, procedures, task management systems, and calendars should serve us. We don’t serve them.
Try something out for a few weeks. If it doesn’t work, change it. Don’t do what I do. Do what works for you and allows you to develop good habits in your life.
5. Be disciplined enough to stick to it!
This is actually the hardest part of developing healthy habits for your life. The first four points are somewhat easy. The hardest part is actually being disciplined enough to live the way you want to live.
Again, the point is to not live reactionary. Live intentionally. Take ownership over your life. Redeem the time. Take stewardship over your week. Go beast mode.
When you do this, I promise you will look back in a month and you will see a mountain of gospel-centered, healthy habits you have developed because of your intentional planing and sticking with it.
When I plan this way, I am able to develop healthy habits in these areas of my life:
- Bible reading and devotional times
- Prayer time
- Date nights
- Work schedule
- Intentional times with family and friends
- What I eat
- When I exercise
- Morning routines
- Evening routines
- Healthy family routines
- Financial budgets for giving, savings, and spending
- And more . . .
Again, it’s all about living intentionally. When we do this, Christ becomes more of your life as you become less (Jn. 3:30). And when you live this way, then healthy, gospel-centered habits begin to form and become second nature.
Greg Gibson (@greggibson86) is married to Grace and is the father of Cora and Iver. He serves as an elder and family ministries pastor at Foothills Church in Knoxville, TN overseeing birth through college and marriages. He is the author of Reformational Manhood: Creating a Culture of Gospel-Centered Warriors and serves as Executive Editor, CBMW Blog, and Communications Director. Greg also writes often at ggib.me.