Minding our minds- diet plan
God is the master craftsman working on and in us. The Holy Spirit ultimately does the transforming, but we are also given a role to play in our formation. One of the roles we play in the process is to mind our mind’s diet. We CAN mind our minds, but we WILL NOT mind our minds without a plan. Below are some questions to help you make a real plan. Included under the questions is some description of how I have tried to personally mind my mind’s diet.
- What and when will I be reading scripture this week?
Personally, I have found that mornings are best. This has not always been the case in my life. At this stage of life, before my children are awake, and the emails/ meetings capture my attention, the morning reading of the Bible works best before everything else begins. I am currently reading the book of Matthew with one of my sons, and beginning Acts with another tomorrow. I also regularly read 1 Psalm to go along with my prayer time.
If you are not sure where to begin in your Bible reading, the Read Scripture App is amazing! It has daily reminders and a reading plan. Also, watching a Bible Project video of the Biblical book you intend to read is really helpful as a start point.
- What Jesus centered podcasts, books, will I listen to/read this week and when?
For extra-Biblical reading, late afternoons and evenings work best for me. This usually happens after the work that requires more creative focus. Again, this timing has not always been the best, but in recent years, I have tended to read something related to what I am studying or personally challenging to me in the afternoons and/or evenings.
For podcasts, I usually listen to an audio book or a podcast while doing Saturday house projects. I also listen to a sermon (from someone other than me on Sunday mornings -HA), and I often listen to another podcast on Tuesday morning during exercise. Right now you can find these Christian podcasts on my phone: The Bible Project, 5 Minutes in Church History, Let My People Think, Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast, This Cultural Moment, and Church of the City New York.
- What time am I most likely to be alert and able to read?
Again this changes depending on your life stage and your family life, but because I do not want to give my mental diet/ scripture time my tired, left over self, I prefer mornings.
- How will the weekends be different from the week days in terms of what I take in?
As mentioned, I listen to a sermon on Sunday mornings. (There is something different about a sermon than a podcast, and I find that I need to sit under teaching of someone else’s.) Our family does GBC video church at 10am on Sunday, which focuses us together on Scripture.
Although I try to start every day the same way, Saturdays, are the most likely day to be flexed or different. I have more unstructured time on Saturdays which can be good OR bad ;).
- Who do you enjoy talking to about spiritual things?
Right now is a bit unique because there is so much more time together as a family than usual, and this has given us some great conversation time.
Beyond family, I have staff with whom we are always talking and challenging each other to keep growing.
- When will you talk to them this week about what you are reading/hearing?
During many of our dinners, we have a conversation where Charity or I will ask our kids what they are reading and have them share it with us. We will then ask them questions about it and try to create a discussion surrounding their questions and thoughts. After Sundays sermon, during dinner, the discussion usually surrounds the sermon topic. (Of course, if I didn’t explain things very well in the sermon, it becomes abundantly clear in those conversations… HA.)
I have also purchased scripture journals for my boys, and they are each reading something different. I am trying to keep up with them and discuss with them individually at different points throughout the week.
Although Charity and I are often reading at the same time (mornings), we are not always reading the same things. Most of our deeper conversation about what we are learning are happening right now during walks in the late afternoons. We have found that she tends to want to talk at night, and I greatly prefer the mornings. Thus, this new schedule has afforded us an opportunity to, in a sense, meet in the middle.
- How can you make this “diet plan” fun?
This may sound a tad unusual since we all just feel like we should just want to have a Biblical diet. The reality, however, is that change is hard… really hard. New habits do not come easily, and often the most important things in our lives are the most difficult things to get ourselves to do. Over the years, I have used different methods to make this practices more enjoyable- to, in a sense, reward myself for doing the right thing. I love being outside, so being outside on a walk or in a hammock or in a nice chair on on a beach while listening to scripture or podcasts makes me FAR more likely to spend this quality time. Other times, I have used food, Since I want to be sure that I am feasting on the bread of God’s word, I have made sure to do my reading before (or perhaps during) any breakfast. There have been many times, I have not allowed myself to see any of the world’s "news” before I have read the Good News. Also, I will not have coffee unless I am praying or reading God’s word in the morning. Nothing should wake me up and ready me for the day like God’s word, so I have coffee while reading or after reading. Being outside, breakfast, coffee all positively reinforce my taking in of God’s word and have helped me develop better habits in this arena.
As you look at some of these things, I want to remind you of a few things.
#1. This isn’t everything. What I mean is that there are lots of practices and ways that we encounter and are transformed by God. He does the heavy lifting, but we GET TO TRAIN WITH the team. We will get to these in the weeks to come.
#2. Just because this is what I do, that doesn’t mean you have to do it just like this. Having this much structure in my life is in some ways a luxury because of the age of my children and my job. Not everyone will have a schedule that looks just like mine, the work relationships that I have etc. We ALL NEED A PLAN, but it may look very different from mine. I give this level of detail here so that you can see ONE WAY of doing this. Ask God for wisdom to know what makes sense for your schedule and life stage.
#3. I have failed many, many times at having a proper Biblical mental diet. Even now, there are days and weeks of struggle. One of the most foolish things we can do is to quickly quit a plan because we failed to make a plan… OR because we made a plan that doesn’t fit our life stage and schedule… OR because we made a good plan but failed in it a couple times. Set a reasonable plan, and stick with it! You may fail and struggle and miss a day or 2 or even a week or 2. That is ok. This is a lifelong process!!! God is doing a mighty work in you, just keep getting back in His presence!