Your Habits: Routine or Rut? January 24, 2014

Just this week as I walked through an airport bookstore I saw yet another volume on the development of habits.  Indeed, every detail of life is full of routine.  This does not mean that days are dull and uneventful!  It is often in the routines of life that God demonstrates His great power and wisdom.

There is, however, a difference between routines and ruts.

Habits are powerful things.  They are either enslaving habits or liberating habits.  Horace Mann, the famed educator, wrote, “Habit is a cable; we weave a thread of it every day, and at last we cannot break it.”

Properly planned routines are habits of life that are rooted in meaning and purpose – disciplines that keep us moving in the direction that has been determined to be best.  (A great book on this subject is The Disciplines of Life by V. Raymond Edmond.)

Ruts on the other hand come from routines that have grown stale and empty.  They may have started as good things but they have become roadblocks to growth.  People get stuck in ruts and many never get out.  Habits become hold ups when they keep Christ from having the preeminence and the Holy Ghost from having leadership.

Dr. Vance Havner, the wise old preacher from the hills of North Carolina, suggested that a rut is just a grave with both ends knocked out!  It is death.  Routines are only helpful as they give order to life.  They become ruts when they begin to put to death the reasons for doing them in the first place.

  •  Build routines.

We are all fairly routine about eating.  Our stomachs understand the principle!  This must be applied to every part of life that is essential.  Physical routines like exercise (sorry to bring up such a dirty word!) are necessary.  Schedule routines such as when we rise and when we go to bed are helpful.

Spiritual routines of regular prayer and systematic meditation on Scripture are just as crucial and yet often neglected.  Choosing to follow routine will help you to press forward when you don’t feel like it.  Don’t wait on emotion to be your motivator!

What is one area of your life in which you need to implement some routine?

  •  Break routines.

When a routine begins to bring bondage, when it is done merely for the sake of appeasing conscience – change it up!  Don’t throw away routine.  Just adjust it.

Boredom has killed many a good routine.  How many of us have started well and gotten bogged down with the details!  Step back.  Look at the big picture.  When I sense that my Bible reading is getting mechanical, I take a break from my self-imposed schedule.  I will return to it and with more enthusiasm.  But I have found that a few days reading in a different place in Scripture or meditating on another passage may refresh my soul.

Beware of rigid routines that lack purpose and heart.

There is a fine line between contentment and apathy.  I want to always be content with the Lord and His provision, but I want to always be hungry to become more of what He desires for me to be.

Get out of your rut!  Build routines that move you forward instead of maintaining the status quo.   Desire more and discipline your life accordingly.

A few days ago one of our Crown College graduates sent me a kind email.  It it was a copy of Sir Francis Drake’s prayer:

Disturb us, Lord, when we are too well pleased with ourselves,

When our dreams have come true

Because we have dreamed too little,

When we arrived safely

Because we sailed too close to the shore.


Disturb us, Lord, when

With the abundance of things we possess

We have lost our thirst

For the waters of life;

Having fallen in love with life,

We have ceased to dream of eternity

And in our efforts to build a new earth,

We have allowed our vision

Of the new Heaven to dim.


Disturb us, Lord to dare more boldly,

To venture on wider seas

Where storms will show your mastery;

Where losing sight of land,

We shall find the stars.

We ask You to push back

The horizons of our hopes;

And to push into the future

In strength, courage, hope, and love.

“Disturb us, Lord.”  That is the part we don’t like.  Catherine Booth was right: “To change the future we must disturb the present.”

The Apostle Paul wrote that we should continue in the things we have already learned to be true (Philippians 3:16).  Routines rooted in truth should not be forsaken!

But he also stated, “,,,and if in anything ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you” (v. 15).  Ask God to show you where life has become a rut and get out of it.

Break the routine that has become a rut.  Build routines that will keep you on the highway of holiness and the pathway of wisdom.

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  1. Marc Cheney on January 24, 2014 at 1:14 PM

    Bro. Scott,
    Thank you for explaining the difference between ruts and wholesome routines.

    • Scott Pauley on January 24, 2014 at 4:59 PM

      Appreciate you taking time to read my ramblings! Hope you all are well. God bless.

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