“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” -Mark Twain
How do you become a quality soldier of Christ?
How do you find out why you were born and how to become the very best “You“?
Perhaps you became a Soldier of this Army and wondered to yourself “what next?”
Perhaps there have been those in your life (in the corps, in your family, in the Army in general) who have truly paved the way for you to strive and have set certain quality standards for you to emulate.
Without a doubt we have witnessed negative examples too, but let us focus today upon 5 healthy habits for healthy salvationists. These are obviously transferable and not singularly exclusive to the Salvation Army experience. Certainly I could have easily called this “5 Healthy Habits for Healthy Christians”…but for the sake of continuity and for the sake of a majority of this Salvation Army readership, I will leave it the way it is…you’re welcome. 😉
5 Healthy Habits for Healthy Salvationists
1) Become a Reader (Challenge Yourself!)
I still recall a certain Commissioner whose first question would always be “So what are you reading?”
This was asked to prompt critical thinking and to communicate the importance of reading.
No matter if you are a fast reader (my wife) or you are a rather slow reader (myself), reading challenging material is rather important to developing healthy habits in our lives.
Don’t just read fiction.
I love fiction, it spurs on my creative side and I can easily become immersed in the characters of a good novel…BUT there are numerous quality spiritual writers out there who can challenge us and shake our preconceived understanding of God, the Universe and the world in which we live. If we only reside in the comfortable fiction section of the bookstore or library, we will limit the opportunities for personal growth and further spiritual understanding.
Do seek out challenging writers of various topics – not just Christian writers.
Do read the works of certain writers that you might fundamentally disagree with. When we simply refuse to read books from certain writers, speakers and thinkers just because of what others have said about them, we may miss out on some critical thinking/development and real teaching moments. Reading these challenging pieces doesn’t mean you have to always agree with them, but refusing to read these works could limit you and prove just how closed minded and small your ideology is. I don’t mean to insult anyone here, but I have heard people speak from uninformed – closed minded perspectives. They sound like fools regurgitating bits of information that others have spouted and rather than discovering it for themselves rely on others to formulate their opinions. When we challenge our understanding of God, even by reading controversial books, we begin to formulate our very own personal spiritual understanding of God. This is vital as we mature in the faith. Challenging traditional and even contemporary views by reading books from various authors from a wide spectrum of thought can help us to better define our love relationship with the Most High. I will caution you though, in the same breath, to be on the lookout for crackpots, charlatans and heresies for they do certainly exist.
2) Ask The Hard Questions
When we become “readers” we in turn begin to develop and formulate difficult questions that we ourselves cannot answer. Do not shy away from such conversations of faith. Also do not be afraid to ask these questions to those with whom you know to be more mature in the faith. It is not wrong to ask such questions. It helps us to grow and become healthier followers of Christ. When we refuse to step up to such challenges, we could very well be limiting the possibility of growth that could occur in such ventures of spiritual exploration.
Understand too that pillars of our faith have walked these paths before us. These “saints” of Christendom did ask the difficult questions. These “saints” of Christendom did not bypass such important defining ventures of faith. Do not be afraid to ask and to seek out that which currently is unknowable to you.
3) Accountability, Mentors & Sharpening
In order to possess the healthy habits of reading and asking the difficult questions as a Salvationist, there is also the crucial need for accountability and mentors which help us to sharpen and hone ourselves into spiritual maturity. It is understandable that maintaining a consistent accountability partner or mentor can be daunting and sometimes impossible, but strive to continue to seek out these people in your life. Sometimes these individuals will change over time as people move in and out of our lives. We NEED the assistance of fellow believers to spur us onward in becoming healthy Christ-followers. Here within this vulnerable yet safe environment the difficult questions can be asked, the spiritual “check-ups” can take place. Some people are more determined than others to possess these kinds of relationships and so they actively seek them out. Others are more reticent to ask because of fear of rejection or making the wrong choice for accountability and mentor. Be aware that such relationships will give us tools we ourselves do not personally or currently possess, after all, a solitary piece of steel cannot sharpen itself can it?
4) Exercise & Healthy Eating
(here goes…I hope I don’t step on anyone’s toes…)
What we put into our bodies in regards to nourishment matters!
We cannot feast every day on junk foods, carbonated drinks and fast-food. These may momentarily satisfy our cravings and sometimes aide us in times of stress, but they WILL lead to health issues. How we treat our bodies and what we eat can determine how long we have on this earth to be effective Soldiers of God! It may sound kind of funny, but realistically if we have surrendered our ENTIRE life to the Lord, this includes our eating habits and our daily activity schedules. One could argue that our physical bodies are secondary to our spiritual conditions but I believe that these are interconnect and not mutually exclusive. What we do with our bodies can have a lasting impact on our spiritual journeys as well. To simply limit our existence within the spiritual realm while discarding our physical condition seems foolhardy and wrong.
A healthy soldier is also concerned about the upkeep of their bodies as well.
It may not always be the first priority, but it should be a close second as we become conscientious of our active and inactive lives as well as the foods that we eat. Discipline shouldn’t be exclusively utilized within our spiritual path and completely vacant within our physical well-being.
5) Develop A Disciplined Personal Prayer And Devotional Life
A Healthy Soldier is not only a reader; questioner; involved in some measure of accountability and in possession of some form of healthy physical attributes, but they should also seek to develop a disciplined personal prayer and devotional life. There are many ways to do this. Do not think that just because one soldier reads THAT devotional book that everyone must follow suit.
Do not underestimate the gravity of a healthy prayer life!
Also do not underestimate the need for a healthy devotional life either.
These two forms of spiritual discipline can become dry and drab if we do not change our study/focus habits up from time to time. Without a healthy prayer life, we are essentially placing limits on our interconnected relationship with the Father.
SUGGESTIONS: Find a simple, yet profound daily devotional if this helps you to develop the discipline of spiritual study. This is not the same as the first suggestion of “Become a Reader”, this is in addition to “digging deeper”. There are numerous spiritual classics that can be used in tandem with the Word of God. Even some contemporary devotionals can help to “feed” and “nourish” the soul. Seek these out, and purposely take times of the day to pray for yourself and others.
These are just five suggestions to developing healthy habits for healthy Soldiers.
This is not an exhaustive list and understandably there are many more ways to become a healthier soldier.
Consider these today!
Something more for our Army to ponder today!
To God be the glory!