Many of our habits result from imitating (consciously or sub-consciously) the habits of three social groups identified by James Clear in Atomic Habits (116-121). I’ll summarize them below with a couple of spiritual applications and implications underneath each one. And I’ll add a fourth influence that is sometimes the most powerful of all.
1. The close: The closer we are to someone, the more likely we are to imitate some of their habits.
- Increase awareness of how your family and friends influence you.
- Although we cannot chose our family, we can chose our friends, and we ought to do so carefully.
- Stay close to Christ.
2. The many: When changing your habits means challenging the tribe, change is unattractive; but we can use a godly tribe to help us change our habits for the better.
- Be especially sensitive to the impact of “majority opinion” on your judgment and opinions on truth and morals.
- Join a church community that will provide a weekly boost to godly habit formation via the impact of a godly tribe.
3. The powerful: Many of our daily habits are imitations of people we admire. We try to copy the behavior of successful people because we desire success ourselves. (121)
- Beware copying someone (unthinkingly or deliberately) just because you admire them.
- If you are a leader, remember how influential you can be in people’s lives, both for good and evil, and steward this ‘talent’ well.
4. The heart: As Christians, we also want to identify the influential source of the sinful values and desires in our own hearts. Indeed, usually it is the most influential force.
We cannot just blame outside sources for our problems. But outside forces can certainly spark, ignite, and enflame these internal forces. We therefore need to be on guard both for the enemies outside and inside.