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By Fr. Chris Harris, Associate Rector
In his New York Times bestselling book, “The Power of Habit,” Chalres Duhig makes the case, that if we want to make a change in our life, the most effective way is to create a new habit. And while Duhig’s argument is backed by plenty of data, anyone who has tried to get into shape following the holidays knows all too well, if you don’t make a habit out of going to the gym or taking a walk each night or jogging each morning, by February or March, those New year’s resolutions will be a distant memory. Habits are the way that humans organize their lives and for anyone wanting to make a change in their life, the most effective way is to begin with small, routine changes rather than grandiose resolutions. Duhig’s research argues that when it comes to change, small, regular habits can have the biggest, most transformative impact on our lives.
It occurred to me that when thinking about our relationship with God, the power of habit can be employed to bring us closer to God. And of course I am not the first person to realize this! The early Christian leaders and mystics taught us long ago through that our faith grows most reliably, through “spiritual practices” such as daily prayer, a nightly gratitude journal, weekly worship or regular small group Bible studies, and so on. All of these practices help to keep us pointed toward God by helping to keep our faith at the forefront of our lives, and to keep it from being crowded out, by the countless distractions and fears that this world throws at us each day. Our spiritual habits help us to be into spiritual shape so that we have a resilience for those times in life, when we need to draw upon our faith to help us through life’s challenges.
Giving is just one more spiritual practice that brings us closer to God. By following Jesus, who gave everything for us — even his life — giving helps keep us on the path. Giving helps us trust in God by letting go of our control over the one area that most of us want to control the most – our money — while moving against the messages of scarcity that we are bombarded with each day. When we put some of the gifts we’ve been entrusted back into the flow of the mission of God through our giving, we plant our own stake in the kingdom of compassion we are called to build, while saying ‘no!’ to the voices of fear and selfishness.
And the best way to make giving into a habit is to pledge! A pledge is a weekly or monthly (or even annual) estimate that helps to turn our giving into a regular, committed practice. Rather than giving in a random way, or when we feel like it, or when we remember, or when it’s for a cause that we like, when we make a pledge, we are letting go of our some of our willfulness and some of our control, and giving it over to God, by giving it over, no strings attached. For many of us, that is the kind of giving that is the most challenging, and for that reason, is exactly where there is an opportunity for the most spiritual growth.
Make giving part of your “spiritual habits” by making a pledge today! Two easy ways to get started:
If you have never pledged before, try it and let me know if turning your giving into a habit, helps to move you closer to God. I’d love to hear it! (Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org)