Want to change harmful habits? First change your beliefs, explains Craig Groeschel in this story about breaking free from materialism. [Excerpt from Craig's new book Soul Detox: Clean Living in a Contaminated World.]
Instead of trying to convince you of the importance of budgeting, saving, and planning (all of which are important and necessary), I’m going to offer something often overlooked that should come before we try to change our behavior. Remember our first problem is a belief problem. Belief overflows to behavior. First we need to change what we believe. When we truly change what we believe, we’ll gladly change how we behave.
I’ll give you an example. Amy and I have always enjoyed keeping our house nice, especially for company. Years ago, if you called and told me you were coming to visit in an hour, our routine would have looked something like this: I’d run to tell Amy that you were coming. She’d ask when. I’d tell her in an hour. She’d panic. For the next 59.5 minutes we’d run around throwing stuff into a closet and explaining to the kids that “under no circumstances do you open that closet!” Then we’d light some candles to give our home that welcoming scent. My job included putting on a worship tape to set the spiritual mood. (If you don’t know what a tape is, ask someone over forty.) After freshening up we’d wait for you for the final .5 minutes to put on the ourhome- and-family-are-perfect show.
As Amy matured in Christ, her priorities started to visibly change. I still remember the day Amy approached me with her new idea. “Instead of putting so much emphasis on our home, what if we chose to value relationships over our image?” she asked, revealing her well-thought-out passion. “I’d like for our place to be the house!” Amy said, with a spiritual strength that rivaled a Billy Graham sermon. I immediately knew what she was talking about.
She didn’t want the house that everyone wanted or the house that won the yard of the month award. Amy wanted something else that I’d never experienced firsthand. Every neighborhood has the one house that every kid wants to come to for fun. It’s the house where everyone spends the most time, creates the most memories, and can’t wait to come back to visit. It’s the house that’s never perfect but always full — of food, of love, of people.
We decided we’d no longer kill ourselves to impress you with our image but instead serve you with our love.
Amy carefully explained to me that we could continue to work hard to have the “perfect” house (something that is unattainable anyway), or we could relax our standards and invest more energy in the people we love. So we decided we’d no longer kill ourselves to impress you with our image but instead serve you with our love. We’d have the house that felt like a home.
Now if you come over, chances are pretty good you’ll have to walk by a bicycle or two, a rip stick, some faded sidewalk chalk, and a Frisbee in the driveway. You’ll step over several toys in the entry way, and the cushions probably won’t be straight on our sofa. You might see a half-finished board game sitting out on the dining room table and four stuffed animals sitting in chairs like they’re having a tea party. But I promise that although the house may not be perfect, you’ll feel welcomed and loved.
When we became more secure with who we were in Christ, we didn’t need to impress others with our image but could serve them with our love.
When we became more secure with who we were in Christ, we didn’t need to impress others with our image but could serve them with our love. When we changed what we believed (valuing people over things), our new beliefs changed how we behaved. And with our new beliefs we found a better way to live. We don’t have to live with the constant nausea of materialism; we can be settled and truly full with Living Water and the Bread of Life.
- Craig Groeschel
Learn more about Soul Detox: Clean Living in a Contaminated World, which just released yesterday (May 1, 2012).
(Some styling above is web-exclusive and not included in the text of Soul Detox.This post does not represent the views of Zondervan or any of its representatives. The writer’s personal opinions are shared only for information purposes. To receive new Zondervan Blog posts in your reader or email inbox, subscribe to Zondervan Blog.)