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We talk a lot about finding a job that you love, finding the ministry position that you love, or finding the morning routine that you love.
Is our love a fixed constant that we have to organize our life around? Or is it more flexible?
Can we learn to love something?
Can we learn to love a new habit? Can we learn to love a stifling discipline? Can we learn to love our current job, position, ministry, and situation?
I’m convinced that we can. Because I’ve done it.
In this episode, I take a brief look at learning to love a new habit or your job – and the lessons that I learned in the process of losing 100 pounds.
Feel free to add to the discussion below the transcript:
Welcome to the Life of a Steward Christian Time Management Podcast. From Biblical instruction to systems and tips to motivation and inspiration, we look at time management from a Christian perspective. We want to make the most of our time, not to make much of us but to make much of him. Not to earn anything but because he’s already earned it. Join me as we seek together to live the Life of a Steward.
In this episode, we’ll look at how you can learn to love your job, learn to love that new habit, learn to love that ministry you participate in. And we’ll look at some principles that I learned myself as I went through the process of losing over 100 pounds.
Introduction and a Question
Hello again – this is Loren Pinilis from Life of a Steward.com and welcome to another podcast episode.
First off, before we get going today – I had a question for you all. I’ve had the pleasure to interview some great people on this podcast, and I was wondering whether or not it was a format that you guys liked.
My thoughts are honestly that I loved it, that you get some great perspective from some really wise people, and it’s probably a lot cooler than sitting and listening to me jabber on all the time even though I’m such a charming and adorable personality.
But I wanted to get input from you guys – the people who listen, so let me know.
Procrastination Ebook Coming
Also, I’ll let the cat out of the bag a little – I’m currently working on a brief ebook on procrastination and hope to have that out within two weeks. The plan is for it to be effective and insightful but as brief and to the point as possible. And it’ll be free.
But I wanted to go ahead and let you know that the book will be out soon, so if you struggle with procrastination, get ready because it’s coming. And do me a favor – if you know anyone who really struggles with procrastination, get ready because I hope you can forward it on to them. It’ll be free to download, free to pass on, free to print and distribute, free to line your birdcage with it, free to fall asleep while reading it because it’s so boring, free to cry while reading it because it’s the most beautiful thing you’ve ever read, whatever you want to do. It’s free to download it and then procrastinate on reading it – hey, it’s free.
So now – let’s not procrastinate any more on this episode – let’s dive in.
A Change of Focus
I wrote a post two weeks or so ago, and in it I mentioned briefly in passing the concept of learning to love what you do – that one of the ways we could be more productive was learning to fall in love with what we do.
And a commenter, Barb Raveling, who by the way I love her blog, check it out at barbraveling.com, she commented saying basically “What are you talking about?” Write more about that – how do you fall in love with what you do.
I read tons of articles and books from the secular world and also from Christian sources that talk about finding work you love. Finding the job you love. Finding the ministry that you love. Finding the morning routine that you love.
And there’s nothing wrong with that – these people are not wrong. It’s just that I wonder sometimes if that should be 100% of our focus. What instead if we put a lot of emphasis on learning to love where we already are. Learning to love our current job. Learning to love that boring task. Learning to love that new habit that we just find stifling.
Instead of seeing our love as a fixed object as something that’s immutable and then altering our lives around this immovable constant, what if we looked at our love as something that could be flexible. Something that we could influence. Something that we could learn to change.
We could learn to love our jobs. We could learn to love doing that frustrating household chore. We could learn to love that new habit.
100 Pounds Lighter
And I know for a fact that this can be done.
Because I’ve done it.
A few years ago, I topped at about 280 pounds. I mean I was fat. There was no muscle on me. I was not a muscular 280. I ate horrible food, I ate way too much of it, I never exercised, and I looked like it.
Now, I’m about 175, so I’ve lost over 100 pounds. And I am a totally different person with totally different habits and things that I love. One of the highlights of my day is going to the gym. I would have never ever told you that would be true. If you would have found me 10 years ago, I would have laughed at you if you would have told me that I would be the guy going to the gym five days a week and loving it. And about 97% of what I eat is broccoli, chicken breast, spinach, sweet potatoes, pretty healthy stuff like that – and I love it. I do tons of other things too like make my own sauerkraut for the probiotics (which is unbelievably delicious by the way), take all these vitamins – I don’t want to go on and on, but the point is this: I’m a changed person. And I love everything I do.
The “Crazy” Addiction
I can remember several years ago talking with a friend of mine and she was talking about how she loved to run. In fact, she loved it so much that she was confessing to me that she had gone through periods where she would have skipped opening her bible or praying in order to go run. That’s what a priority it was to her.
And I just remember thinking that was crazy. That made no sense to me. I was polite and nodded my head but as a 280-pound out-of-shape guy, I could not wrap my head around that. Have you ever seen that TV show called strange addictions? They’ll show someone who’s addicted to eating chalk or this crazy lady who loved sleeping with a running hair dryer next to her. These crazy things – that’s what she sounded like to me. It was so foreign to me.
Now, at that point, even though I thought she was crazy, I wished even then that I could be crazy like that. I knew that exercise was a healthy habit, so even though I couldn’t understand how she loved it – I wanted to be like her. I wanted to love it.
And now I can honestly say that I do.
So what’s changed for me? How did I finally get it? And how can we learn to love what we may not love?
Well as I was having this conversation several years ago with my friend, I was just being polite and asked her how she got into running. She had a father who was into it, but she got into it herself because she wanted to be in shape. She said it may have been very superficial teenage reasons of wanting to look good – every teen is that way.
But the point is this: She fell in love with running because she loved the benefits. The benefits of running were so compelling to her that she loved the act of running. She had a very strong love for the benefits. And – this is important – she saw a powerful connection between the activity of running and the benefits she wanted.
Just last episode I had the opportunity to interview Dr. Don Whitney. And he had in his book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life – it was the first sentence of the book – and it was this: Discipline without direction is drudgery. Discipline without direction is drudgery.
He tells a little parable in the book. There’s a little kid practicing his guitar and he’s bored and he wants to go play outside. All of the sudden he’s visited by an angel who wisks him to the future where this little boy can see a virtuoso guitarist at Carnegie Hall playing in amazing ways and just moving the crowd to tears. The angel says to the little boy, this is you in the future – but you have to practice. And of course, that little boy’s view of guitar practice changed. Now all of the sudden it wasn’t just doing dumb scales and chords, he was moving step by step closer to the stage at Carnegie Hall.
For me, I just got fed up with my weight. I got to a breaking point where the pain of continuing the way I was and the benefits of losing weight become so compelling to me that I joyfully put in the effort. It didn’t happen overnight, but the motion started.
When to Think on the Benefits
Now when I go to the gym and have an intense lifting session, I know that my body is changing. I know that I’m getting stronger, I know that I’m getting healthier, I know that I’m looking better – but I realize this not an hour later. It’s not an intellectual exercise I do once a month. Walking through the doors of that gym, getting under that weight, pushing yourself on that last rep or two – that’s when I’m in some way aware of the benefits.
That’s the important part of it. If you want learn to love an activity, the love of an activity comes when you connect the benefits – but while the activity is going on. If all you’re concentrating on while you’re running or while you’re lifting weights is how you want to stop, you won’t change. If you only think in the evenings when you look in the mirror, man I should pick up running – if that’s the only time you think of it, you’re not going to change.
That’s the first principle: be aware of the benefits. Fill your mind with the benefits. But it’s important when you do this – you have to do this while you’re in the thick of the activity.
So how can we fall in love with something? How can we fall in love with a good habit? How can we fall in love with our position or our current job?
Benefits in God’s Eyes
Well, what are the benefits in the eyes of God? This is more than just shifting your focus. You may be uncovering benefits that you never considered before.
In the case of a job, think of the people you’re helping. Think of the blessings that can come to your family because of the income or the giving that you could do to ministries and the needy. Think of your impact as a Christian on your work environment. Think of the things you’re learning to prepare you for your next step in life. Think of how you are bearing God’s image by creating things and participating in subduing the earth.
Another benefit is the process of changing yourself, of taking up a new habit – is that you are conquering a lazy part of yourself. Part of the fun for me now when working out is knowing that I’m not the person I was. I’m changing physically on that last rep, but I’m also changing emotionally. I’m turning into the type of person who doesn’t quit when it gets hard. So part of that brings out my competitive nature. It’s me vs. my old self.
It’s more than just a simple habit change. It’s a metaphor. It is a symbol for my willingness to do the right thing when it’s tough. So part of what I love is conquering that part of myself that drags me down. That part of me that is fleshly and fallen and wants nothing more than to get back in bed. That part of me that wants comfort that is ultimately meaningless.
David’s Example in Psalm 119
So I was thinking about how this worked biblically. I was thinking what is a good example of someone loving an activity in the bible, loving a good habit, loving a discipline. And I thought of Psalm 119.
It’s the longest chapter in the Bible and it’s all about how David loves God’s word. And why does he love it? Because of the benefits he receives from reading God’s word.
Verse 5: David prays “Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes. Then I shall not be put to shame.” The benefit comes from the activity.
Again and again we see that David loves the scripture because it gives him comfort, and it draws him closer to God. He loves the discipline of reading scripture because he loves the benefits. His discipline is not drudgery because it does have direction.
And here’s the second principle: You also see again and again David praying for God to give him an increasing hunger for the scripture. That good habit, so to say, David realizes is something that God drives him towards. It’s something that God ultimately gives him. So he prays for it. A lot.
Take some time to read Psalm 119 if you want to. Take a look at the benefits that David mentions whether it’s implied or outright stated – and take a look at how often David asks God to open his eyes to the scripture, open his heart, incline his mind towards the scriptures.
Meditate on the benefits day and night, and pray earnestly that God would change you.
Because if we’re looking at the benefits through God’s eyes, we can see the eternal impact of whatever it is that we’re trying to love. We’re just asking God to help us see things his way and to be disciplined to do what he would want us to do. That’s a prayer that has power.
The Search for Idols
The third principle is to combat the status quo. Think of why you’re resistant to take up this new habit or why it is that you don’t love your job or position or what have you. Peel back the layers of the onion and see what fears you have, what doubts, what pain you may be feeling.
And then assess whether those are accurate are not. In the case of working out and losing weight, the status quo is based off of a feeling of comfort. I simply didn’t want to be uncomfortable with diet and exercise. Or it could be you’re afraid of failure. You’re afraid of a dismal future.
And it could be – I don’t want to rule this out – it could be that your job is not the place for you to be. It could be that there are justified reasons for you to not be there. I’m not saying we have a responsibility to always love our job. Does peeling back the layers reveal that you shouldn’t be there?
Or – does peeling back the layers reveal an idol? Do you see an idol of comfort? An idol of pride? An idol of greed?
The fourth principle is to ultimately get started. Get started small and take small steps. I did not wake up one morning and decide to have the lifestyle that I have now – that I love. It started with altering my diet, then a little exercise, then a little more tweaking – and by that point I started to really see results and you couldn’t slow me down if you tried. But if I would’ve tried to go from 0 – 60 in one second, I wouldn’t have made it. Willpower would have gotten me through about the first three or four days, and then I’d still be 280 pounds.
There’s an art form to how much you can change and have the change stick. So just try something. If you nail it, bite off a little more as you improve. If it doesn’t stick, maybe reduce that commitment and try a smaller change next time. Go with your gut. Pray about it. There’s no hard and fast rule.
There’s a lot more involved in changing habits and learning to love certain jobs or activities or habits – but I hope this served as a relatively brief summary of the main points – the main tools that I think were helpful to me as I changed a lot about myself and are still helpful to me as I continue to strive to be the best person I can be in every area of my life.
So let me know – what questions do you have? About this or any other subject related to time management, biblical productivity, anything. You can Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have anything to add to this podcast, I’d love for you to join in on the conversation – just head to www.lifeofasteward.com.
Until next time, this is Loren Pinilis from Lifeofasteward.com.
Remember: We want to make the most of our time, not to make much of us but to make much of him. Not to earn anything but because he’s already earned it. Join me next time where we’ll look at more time management tips from a Christian perspective as we seek together to live the Life of a Steward.
Photo Credit: Mason Masteka (Creative Commons)
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