Am I giving away good or bad habits?
by Danny Tippit
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Is it just me or do other fathers get around their own father and instantly begin to compare and critique their parenting skills? Well, I may be the only one, and that is fine. However, I constantly evaluate myself when I am around my dad. I think about how I act, what I say, and how I discipline my children when I am around him. I am constantly listening for giggles of “I told you so”, or reminders of “just like his father”, and sometimes prophetic promptings of “what comes around goes around.” I watch his reaction to something I might do differently than what he did with me. I am on this constant evaluation roller coaster where I decide whether or not I am on the right track or the wrong track of being a good father.
Why is it when I am around my dad when I do my most serious inventory of my parenting abilities? Why don’t I evaluate myself more often? The reason… I realized I am striving to obtain someone’s approval. I want my dad to say that he is proud to know that he successfully raised me in such a way that created within me the potential to raise my son and daughters better than how I was raised. I am not saying my dad did anything wrong. This isn’t even about my dad. What it is about is the kind of inheritance I am leaving behind when I die.
What is an inheritance? An inheritance is something that is left behind for someone else to possess. Generally, when people die they leave inheritances which could be their belongings, assets, or finances. Sometimes an inheritance can be a negative thing if they have a lot of debt. Lately, more than ever, and especially since the movie Courageous has come out, I wonder what kind of inheritance or legacy I am leaving behind. Is the inheritance I am leaving behind rich, full of valuable commodities, and priceless heirlooms? Or is it bankrupt, carrying a mountain of debt, suffocating the life out of whoever it is bestowed upon?
Maybe you are confused by what I mean when say inheritance. I am not talking about money or physical items that are tangible and visible. Those are all perishable items that will wither, rot, corrode, or fade away in time. I am talking about the non-perishables that last several generations. Non-perishables are virtues and vices, curses or blessings passed down through hundreds of generations. In chapter five of Galatians Paul discusses the these virtues and vices:
“The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” – verses 19 – 23.
As a father to three beautiful, little children I am concern myself a lot with my vices. Too much so. I have done some terrible things in my life. If you knew what they were, you might not considered them that bad, then again, you might. Either way, I have sin in my past life and sin in my present life, therefore my future legacy always seems to hang in the balance. God has spoken to me about this and this is what He said. Okay not verbally, but this is the conclusion I have come to so far. Our minds are not a vacuum. We cannot think about nothing. If our thoughts are thoughts that follow more along the lines of vices, how do we stop thinking about them? We can’t just stop, we have to replace them. Romans 12:2 says to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. In order for us to stop thinking about fleshly things we need to be renewed in our minds which means we need to change thinking habits. We need to move from fleshly thoughts and desire to thinking and desiring in the Spirit.
I am also a cheerleading coach. I don’t have time to expand on just that statement alone, so stay with me here. When I am instructing a cheerleader who has already achieved their back-handspring and they want to add an additional skill to that back-handspring I have to look at their tumbling form to determine if they have good enough technique to add that additional skill. Just because someone has a back-handspring does not qualify them to add on a back tuck somersault. I determine if they have good or bad habits. I tell every cheerleader that as you are doing your stretching, your warm-up drills, or even just playing around, habits are constantly being formed. The question is are they good or bad habits. The process to replace a bad tumbling habit you have to first correct it with the good habit by at least doing it 50 times (these are my numbers, but you will get the idea). However, executing the good habit only begins to erase the bad habit. To form the good habit the skill must be executed with good technique at least 50 more times. In conclusion, to erase a bad habit the good habit must be implemented. After implementation, repetition will begin to erase the bad habit. However, only after excessive repetition will the good habit replace the bad habit.
Applying this to my life I have learned that focusing on the vices (fleshly desires) I cannot just stop doing them. I have to replace them. I have to replace them with the desires of the Spirit. For example, if I rid myself of fits of rage I must practice gentleness over and over again. If I want to purge myself of thoughts of jealousy I must establish habits of self-control. For both of these I must do them over and over again. Excessive repetition will form the good habit over the bad habit.
My legacy that I leave behind is either going to be a long list of bad habits or good habits. My desire is to develop over the rest of my life the fruit of the Spirit, in other words good habits, so my children will see in my life a focus to live by the Holy Spirit and not preoccupation with fleshly temptations. Are you spending more time trying to stop bad habits or are you practicing good habits? Adam Mitchell, the main character in the movie Courageous, sums it up in this verse, “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” – Joshua 24:15.
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