Sunday Sermonizing: Systems and Spirituality
Small, consistent actions. Little wins.
This strategy gets mentioned here a lot in the realms of work, creativity, and leadership. It’s not original with me. Lots of people talk about this strategy. Some even use it. I believe it’s at the heart of the systems thinking James Clear talks about in his new book Atomic Habits.
“You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.”
Surprisingly, this applies to spirituality.
It’s counterintuitive to the way most of us in the modern American church has been taught. We value freedom and independence. We want to be “Spirit-led” (at least as we define it”), and that means I won’t be bound to regularity. Systems. Habits.
Won’t my spiritual practice become lifeless?
Life is in Jesus.
But life can also get busy and activity-filled to the point we forget that Life is in Jesus.
This is why a system for daily prayer is essential. For me it is anyway.
The Daily Office is a long-standing Christian tradition and practice of the church where prayers are read at particular times throughout the day. Every day.
While some may feel this is rigid and cold, I push back. There is something life-giving about a notification on my desktop that’s not another email or a Facebook book notification. It’s time to pray. I stop everything I’m doing because it’s time to do something bigger, more important, and less urgent than whatever I was doing.
And I am going to do that bigger, more important, and less urgent thing.
I’m reminded that Jesus is life and life is in Him.
So I read those prayers, often out loud. Pause from the busy-ness for just a few moments. Remember my humanity and His sovereignty. Remember something greater than Solomon is here (Matthew 12:42).
And even though these prayers are a scripted part of the daily routine (the system). they are as meaningful and life-giving as any off-the-cuff, extemporaneous, public prayers I’ve spoken. Or heard.
Spirituality can be both meaningful and systemized.
In fact, if there’s no system, we’re in danger of getting sucked into the tidal wave of life and work and losing our way altogether.
I have used a version of the daily office in Celtic Daily Prayer for many years. You may find a version of it online.
But I recommend actually purchasing the book. Mine is a well-used copy.q