122 - Six Habits of Spiritually Happy Men
|Written by Patrick Morley|
|Wednesday, December 10 2008 11:58|
I’ve been meeting with men for over three decades. Many of those men exude a contagious joy and contentment. Their lives are peaceable, orderly, and recommend Christ. They’re downright happy!
Most of these happy men exercise six spiritual habits that keep them “abiding in Christ.” The dictionary says a habit is, “an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary.”
These six habits are not litmus tests that you can use to judge a man’s walk with Christ. That would be extremely dangerous. These habits do nothing to improve a man’s record with Jesus.
They are, however, indicators or “clues” of a deeper commitment to live by faith and make a difference in the world. These aren’t the only six habits that reveal the depth of a man’s walk with Christ. Nevertheless, those of us who are leaders would do well to practice, and encourage our men to practice, these six habits. The change of heart these often represent can change the course of a man’s life and family lineage for generations to come.
Habit #1: Spiritually happy men read the Bible regularly.
They love God’s word, and want to regularly read and meditate on the Bible. I’ve never known a single man whose life has changed in any significant way apart from the regular study of God’s Word.
IDEA: Why not read through the Bible over the next year! Buy a One Year Bible or use the One Year Bible reading plan with your existing Bible. Go to www.oneyearbibleonline.com.
Habit #2: Spiritually happy men pray with their wives.
Praying with your wife symbolizes a depth of relationship with God and each other. Shaun from Bozeman, Montana asked his men’s group, “How many of you pray with your wives?” Only one of the eight men answered, “Yes.” For the last year they have been holding each other accountable. Here’s what Shaun has to say….
The benefits when we are obedient in this area are amazing. Here are some comments from the men when they pray with their wives on a consistent basis:
And I'll tell you this, it's pretty hard to be upset with your wife or to be arguing and still come before God with a clean heart. It forces us to communicate and humble ourselves before each other before we do something as intimate as praying together. It just permeates thru the rest of your family, and day.
IDEA: Ask your wife if you can take two or three minutes each day, maybe before work, for (a) praising and thanking God, (b) intervention, and (c) intercession.
Habit #3: Spiritually happy men are in a small group.
Consultant Pat MacMillan surveyed over 2,500 Promise Keepers who had kept their promises. He asked them, "Who helped you keep them?" The two overwhelming answers given were, "My wife" and "My church-based small group." Focus on getting men into small groups.
Spiritually happy men are personally vulnerable and seek to be held accountable by other men. This group might be with a few men, or only one other man. It might meet for Bible study, discussion, fellowship, prayer, accountability, or a combination.
IDEAS: Get together a weekly group of six to eight men, watch the Man in the Mirror Bible Study webcasts and discuss the printable questions. Also, order some free Accountability cards and help keep each other on track by calling Man in the Mirror at (800) 929-2536..
Habit #4: Spiritually happy men are active in a church.
I’ll stop at 10 and skip evangelism training, Sunday school, softball leagues, parent/child events, conferences, retreats, mission trips, fellowship dinners, and the countless church sponsored hospitals, schools, universities, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, pregnancy counseling centers, and jail ministries. You get the idea.
Active church involvement is the overflow of a deeper work that Christ is doing in a man’s heart. “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25).
IDEAS: If you are not in a church, find one (ALM 2). If you are not active in your church, set an appointment with your pastor and say, “Give me an assignment…I’m ready.” He will know what to do next.
Habit #5: Spiritually happy men tithe.
Generosity is a highly underrated source of happiness. I’ve never known a man who tithed who was not happy. On the other hand, I’ve known a lot of guys who have not tithed and were miserable.
Someone may argue that tithing is not New Testament. I agree that the New Testament concept is proportionate giving: “On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income” (1 Corinthians 16:2). But wait! The Old Testament also says give in proportion: “Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the LORD your God has blessed you” (Deuteronomy 16:17). Both Old and New Testament suggest proportionate giving!
So what is the “benchmark” for proportionate giving? What does the New Testament say? In Matthew 23:23 Jesus said, “For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest part of your income, but you ignore the important things of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but you should not leave undone the more important things.” Tithing is our benchmark and, by the way, it’s the minimum—but I wouldn’t push that too far.
IDEAS: Give in proportion to what you make. Establish a benchmark. Let ten percent be the minimum. Optional: Consider a setting a maximum income above which you give everything else away.
Habit #6: Spiritually happy men are serving the Lord.
Personally, I would rather die for a worthy cause than live for no reason. And I think most men feel the same way.
Once a man has been in the real presence of Jesus, he will never be happy until he finds a way to express his gratitude through love and good deeds. Brother Lawrence put it this way, “I tell you that this sweet and loving gaze of God insensibly kindles a divine fire in the soul which is set ablaze so ardently with the love of God that one is obliged to perform exterior acts to moderate it.”
Do you have a passion that your life will make a difference in the world? Are you pursuing a life of significance? View everything as serving the Lord.
IDEAS: Start a men’s small group or, better yet, a men’s ministry in your church. Arrange a Saturday morning tour of a local ministry that serves the poor. Plan a mission trip for your men. Conduct a class that trains men how to lead men to Christ.
Remember, we’re trying to practice Christianity, not voodoo. We simply cannot make a requirement out of anything the Bible does not specifically command or prohibit. So these six habits are recommendations, not commandments. It’s fine for us to have a strong personal conviction about one or more of these habits, just don’t make it a litmus test for someone else (see Romans 14:5, 10).