WRITTEN BY GUEST CONTRIBUTOR, MIKE TIEMANN
When was the last time you tried something brand new?
Was it a New Year’s resolution? Maybe you felt a desire to get healthy… get organized… or stick to a new budget.
Or maybe you were forced into something new—like learning how to deal with a diagnosis, and how to decide on complicated options for treatment.
Motivation can be powerful. But our motivation tends to fade when there’s no immediate need or payoff. We make the same well-intentioned resolutions for ourselves, year after year. So why is it so hard to turn our motivations into consistent habits?
I’ve recently discovered something about my own desire to exercise and move my body each day: If I push myself to run, I’ll feel a great sense of accomplishment when it’s over. But I’m a lot less likely to actually DO it.
On the other hand, if I simply take a walk, I’ll do it. Day after day after day.
Sometimes I wonder if our approach to faith can work the same way. It’s not that we shouldn’t push ourselves beyond our comfort zone—we absolutely should! But if we try to take on more than what’s attainable, we’ll probably push for a few days with the best intentions... and then we won’t do anything at all.
As I look back on my years as a Christian, I can remember some big moments that pushed my faith (and my family’s faith) in significant ways. But maybe the things that helped me grow most over the years have been small, steady gestures, none of which seemed all that important at the time.
Looking back, I can see the value of the times when I (or we) just “took a walk.”
ATTENDING CHURCH CONSISTENTLY Whether you’re virtual or in-person, the community you find in a congregation will support you, comfort you, challenge you, and inspire you. And don’t forget—you’ll do the same thing for others too!
SIMPLE DEVOTIONALS My wife does a short reading and prayer with our girls each day before school. It’s three minutes of the day that, over time, are affirming and shaping their faith. And if we miss a day? It’s okay. We pick it right back up again!
READING/LISTENING TO THE BIBLE I’m the first to admit that it’s easier to talk ABOUT the Bible than to actually read it for myself. One year, I decided to try out the audio version that’s included in the YouVersion Bible app. I listened during my commute, and it was an incredible experience that fit seamlessly into the normal rhythm of my day.
PRAYING TOGETHER Again, this can sound intimidating… until you make it a habit. For us, it’s simply taking time to pray together as a family, each night before we go to bed. The prayers can be simple or profound, or sometimes even a little silly. The important thing is that we “take a walk” and take the time consistently.
REPETITION One could argue that when something is more familiar, it can lose meaning. But ever since we’ve started attending a more traditional church, I’ve found great comfort in repeating ancient truths—like the Lord’s Prayer—that hold new significance through all the changing seasons of life.
These practices work for us, because they fit the natural rhythm of our family. The hardest part is just setting them up in the first place. But I know that we'll do them, and that’s what will help each of us continue to grow in our faith. Hopefully, day by day, we will continue to take those steps toward being the people God created us to be.
What are some of your favorite small, simple ways to grow your family’s faith?
Mike is an editor and writer of children’s curriculum, living in Roswell, GA. He and his family have been serving with Lighthouse Family Retreat since 2013.