THE BLESSING AND BANE OF ROUTINE …
When I was a young pastor, I asked our Wednesday evening congregants to name a “resolution” for the coming year. A woman stood and announced that she “did not believe in resolutions.” She did not say why, and I decided not to ask, but I did think it might not hurt her to try. Maybe you “believe” in resolutions, maybe you do not.
However, the “rubber meeting the road” is not in the resolutions themselves (I have had some dandies over the years that never got off the ground), but in routines. Routines can be negative or positive. As we all have heard, “doing the same thing over and over again – and expecting different results – is insane.” Routines can become “the lazy way out” for fresh and creative thinking. “Let’s just do what we did last year” is not always a good thing, even if it was a good thing last year. Worse yet are routines we fall into that are harmful to us. That big bowl of ice cream every night before bed probably is not a good routine. Neither is watching three hours of TV (or being on the Internet) each evening. Likewise, the “routine” of “no routine” is a thief of time, and thus a thief of life.
On the other hand, carefully selected routines have the power to open new doors, bring health, enliven the mind, develop meaningful, authentic relationships with family, potential friends and, ultimately, with God our Father.
In his little book, “Ask It,” Andy Stanley discusses the value of 30-minute-a-day routines, in light of their cumulative effect. For example, 30 minutes a day can take almost anyone a long way in learning a new skill (such as playing a musical instrument or speaking a new language). Similarly, making a point to eat dinner nightly with your family can open pathways for communication in a marriage and family.
It is said of Jesus that he “often went out early in the morning to pray.” Elsewhere it is noted that it was “his custom” to attend the local synagogue on the Sabbath. Routines. Very good routines.
So, whether or not you “believe” in resolutions, I would challenge you (and myself) to pick and maintain a few routines that we will be thankful we established come Dec. 31.