Seven Habits of Highly Spiritual People
Exactly thirty years ago this summer (1989), Steven R. Covey published his now famous book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. It has become a classic in the business and leadership communities, challenging and influencing millions of people across the globe.
What are the seven habits? First, be proactive. Take initiative and don’t live life in a reactive mode. Second, begin with the end in mind. Know where you want to be in the future and then move towards it. Make decisions that move you towards your goal. Third, put first things first. Know what your priorities are as well as what is urgent and what is not. Fourth, think win-win. Seek solutions in life where both parties win and that are mutually-beneficial. Fifth, seek first to understand, then to be understood. Empathy, listening, and understanding go a long way in relationships and in business. Loneliness abounds and many want to know if you care or not. Sixth, synergize! Use teamwork and complementary skills to get the job done. Seventh, sharpen the saw. Never stop learning, growing, developing, and searching.
These seven timeless principles have been applied in a variety of ways over the years. What if we wanted to come up with a list of seven habits for “highly spiritual people?” How might it differ? Here’s what that list might look like. First, be disciplined. Carve out time every day for prayer, meditation, reading, and stillness. Disconnect from the ongoing noise and disruptions of the world. This should also include disconnecting from technology in all of its forms. Second, keep the big picture in mind. Human beings can get very worked up over things that really don’t matter in the big picture. We often major in the minors. Third, live your priorities. Good is the enemy of great. Don’t let the small and petty stuff rule the day. Know what matters most and give your primary energy to that. If you don’t get to other things that are less important, so be it. Fourth, treat others the way you want to be treated. Always imagine what it would be like to be on the receiving end of your words and actions. Jesus taught this. Some people would be shocked to learn how they actually treat and speak to others. Fifth, show empathy and compassion. Everybody is fighting some type of battle in life. We usually do not know what it is. Life is difficult, challenging, and stressful. Sixth, form meaningful relationships with people who make you better. The company you keep will pull you up or down. Be around people who influence you for the better. Surround yourself with people who will give you support and honest feedback. Seventh, avoid anger whenever possible or at least deal with it in healthy ways. Anger, resentment, and bitterness take us away from our spiritual center. It also heavily affects our physical, mental, and emotional health. Anger causes us to say and do things that we regret.
Highly spiritual people find ways to remain cool, calm, and collected in the face of stress and difficulty. This is a skill that must be practiced and cultivated over time. The truth is, we live in a culture where most people believe that the spiritual life is important but very few are serious about intentionally doing what it takes to grow spiritually. The world is busy, loud, chaotic, and it never stops. Jesus said, “My peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you. I do not give as the world gives.” The world will never bring us the peace that we seek. We must be intentional in our focus, our choices, and in how we structure our time each day.
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