Habits are hard to break, that’s why they call them habits. Habitual behavior becomes second nature, and is often done without thinking. So, to break the habit requires extreme concentration and discipline, and is sometimes almost impossible. A better course of action is to never let bad habits form in the first place. Here are some bad habits, with a suggestion or two about how to avoid taking them up in the first place:
1. Gossiping is a bad habit. The Scriptures frequently call out this sin, and remind us of its serious consequences, (Pr. 16:28; Ps. 15:2-3, etc.). Some people are in such a habit of gossiping, they do not even realize they are doing it. It seems you do not have to speak with them for more than a minute or two, to be exposed to all kinds of scurrilous, harmful news. But how do we avoid this habit? One way is to make a concerted practice of checking what we say. Think before you speak! Is what you are about to say information about someone else? If so, is it constructive or destructive? Does it help or hurt that other person? If there is any doubt, put a lock on your lips, and check it before it gets out. Make it a practice to never say anything about someone else which you would not say to their face. This includes social media, maybe especially. The gossiping which goes on on Facebook and other forms of social media is enough to make a sailor blush. Again, would we say it to the person’s face? Is it constructive? Is it encouraging? Also, remember that gossip generally makes the talebearer look bad, maybe even worse than the person they are bad-mouthing. Do you want people to think of you as a small person? If not, steadfastly avoid talking negatively about other people.
2. Lying is another bad habit. We all know that big, black lies are sinful, but what about the “little white ones?” What about what we commonly call “exaggerating?” Preachers and other public speakers can easily fall prey to this, as can those who crave attention. We seem to think that our “tall tales” make us look bigger, so our stories get more and more exaggerated. One good practice is to work on the art of understatement. Work on leading your hearer(s) toward the point, rather than overstating or over emphasizing the point yourself. Let them reach the conclusion on their own. Practice restraint in what you say, and never overstate your case.
3. Missing the assemblies is a bad habit, and the best way to avoid it is not to miss that first time. Don’t think of attending the services as a question, or something debatable. It should be simply the way it is, a matter of routine. Whether you and your family are “going to church this evening” should not have to be debated or discussed each time. If you get into the habit of attending faithfully, it becomes much more difficult to ever get into the habit of missing. Also, don’t shy back from letting your extended family or friends know that you will be going to worship. If they come to visit, let them know how much you appreciate their visit, but that you will be attending the services anyway. They will either come along with you or stop creating the conflict by coming right when it’s time for you to leave.
4. Interrupting others is a bad habit, and one which takes sheer determination to break. Practice the art of listening. If you must interrupt, ask follow-up questions about what you were hearing, rather than talking about matters only of interest to you. You do not need to comment on every sentence that a person says. You do not need to talk about yourself every time you open your mouth. Interrupting someone sends the message that you do not really respect or care for them. It takes practice to develop a genuine interest in other people, and what they are saying. Listen patiently, and suppress the feeling that you need to comment on every thing said.
5. Bragging is another bad habit. It is often a sign of insecurity, and many, many people are insecure. They feel they must build themselves up in the eyes of others, or strengthen their own self image to preserve their own value. But we need to remember that we are all valuable in the sight of God. We don’t need to brag or boast. Doing so generally only makes us look bad anyway. If our own accomplishments are so important, they will become known without us touting them at every opportunity. No one likes a braggart. Bad habits are easily formed or fallen into, but can be difficult to break. Think about your life, and how you want to spend it. Then work hard at avoiding bad habits!
-by Robert C. Veil, Jr.