Steven Furtick - How to Break the Power of Bad Habits
You know what the Lord told me to tell you out of that? If you don't like the product, you have to change the pattern. This is so critical, because some of us don't like what we're getting in our lives. We don't like the way our relationships flow. We don't like the way our bodies look, and we don't like the way our bodies feel, and we don't like the way we go running around from this thing to that thing, and we don't like the way our lives are constantly feeling empty. That's the product, 666. If you don't like that product… You can hate the product all you want. You can stare at the product all you want, but the problem is not the product; the problem is the pattern.
I'm coming after your excuses, because so often we want to blame the tree for the fruit that's not there. We want to blame God for the blessings he didn't give. We want to blame people for the opportunities they didn't let us have. We want to blame circumstances for the way things are. We want to blame genetics for the reason we're kind of fat. We have all of these problems, but folks, might I suggest that the problem isn't what they did to you, what they said to you, what they didn't do for you? The problem is the pattern of your response. It's the pattern.
Let's change the pattern. If we put 111 one more time and now we have 111 times 7, now we have 777. That's a good product. How many of you like that product better than the 666? You can't change the product if you don't change the pattern. You can't change your relationships if you don't start being kinder. You can't change the way people respond to you if you don't start sowing some good seed. You can't change the way your kids act if you don't start sowing some behavioral discipline and some TLC and some encouragement sometimes. You can't change the way your career is going if you don't start changing your work ethic and your work habits and your interrelations. You can't change your wisdom unless you change your input, because the problem is the pattern.
So often what the Devil will get us to do, since we don't perceive the pattern… Everybody perceives problems. That's easy. I told our staff this week, "Anybody can perceive problems. That doesn't make you a leader. That's not going to help you grow. That's not going to change your life". Anybody can perceive problems, but the ability to perceive the pattern beneath the problem could change everything. The Enemy will do this. He'll take a pattern in your life, and he'll try to get you to think that a changeable pattern is a permanent problem. This is what our minds do. This is where we mess up. This is where it goes wrong.
The problem is the pattern, but let's say you make a statement like, "I'm not a morning person". How many of you would make a statement like that? Yeah, me too. I've been saying that all my life, and I stand by it. Those neurons that fire to the other neurons with the pathways… I was born with something that wants to stay up late. You know, early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy… Whatever. Early to rise for me makes me mean and hateful. It makes me suicidal and homicidal.
Sometimes we say something. We make it a permanent problem. "I'm not a morning person". For some of us, it's the pattern… That's not like a personality trait for some of us. "I'm not a morning person". "Well, my pattern is I stay up late watching one more episode. I stay on my electronic devices until 11:30 p.m. I think about stressful stuff all day long. I don't ever pray about anything. I worry about everything. I lose my cool with the kids at 9:30. I drink too much water and have to get up to pee three times during the night".
(I'm just trying to be practical preacher. You can't always just be theological. "The tabernacle that was built not with human hands". Sometimes you have to talk about having too much water before you go to bed to help people out.) "I didn't lay out my clothes the night before. Everything I wanted to wear was dirty. I ate half a bag of popcorn. I drank caffeine until 8:30 p.m. It's all up in my system. So I'm not a morning person". No, you have some bad nighttime patterns. I'm preaching to myself. I feel like a hypocrite. In some ways I just read you my list, but let's pretend you don't know that. Let's pretend we're talking about you.
"I'm not a good student. I'm just not a good student". Many of you said that all through school. Many of you are saying that all through school. Now it's not just a problem anymore. It's a personality type. "I'm a bad student". Like that's an ethnicity. It's permanent. "I'm a bad student. I'm just not a good student". No, you have horrible patterns. You have patterns of procrastination. Can I preach about this? Parents, can I preach about this? We make big sweeping statements over stuff that is really systematic decisions. We make patterns very personal, but you are not your patterns.
Some of our problems are not the result of destiny; they're the result of decisions. We get destiny confused with decisions. We think this is the way it's always supposed to be because this is the way it has always been. I came to announce to somebody if you'll change the pattern, God can change the product. You're not stuck like this. You don't always have to be like this. You can get a new pattern. If you couldn't, Paul wouldn't have said, "Don't be conformed to the pattern of this world".
Apparently there's something you can do to change the pattern. Come on, we have to change the pattern. We come to church and ask God to change the product. He says, "You change the pattern, and the product will change". "My life is hectic". No, you're just always in a hurry. That's the pattern of your life, so life feels hectic because you're in a hurry. Hurry is your pattern; hectic is your product. You have to pay attention. I have a lot more of those too. "I'm disorganized. I have no energy. I don't like to exercise. I can't afford to tithe".
We interpret our decisions as our destiny, but everything changes the moment the Word of God taps you on the shoulder and says, "You know there's a pattern. You know it's not just random. You know it's not just fate for you to be this way". In my own life, I've had to learn, and I'm still learning, my own patterns of discouragement and defeat. Sometimes I get discouraged, and listening to my own podcast doesn't help. It's even more discouraging sometimes. "Do I really sound like that"?
I started paying more attention lately to my patterns of defeat and my patterns of discouragement so I won't just interpret it as, "The Devil is attacking me". Y'all give him too much credit. It's really just a pattern. It's neurons and neural pathways. There is a Devil, but this is his headquarters. It's a pattern. Personally, I'm an achiever. I like to achieve. I'm driven. So when I start my day off without accomplishing anything I feel like I can check off, if too long goes by in the day before I can check something off, I get discouraged. So I learned how to at least do one thing: make up the bed, put something in the dishwasher. (I would never unload the dishwasher in the morning, but I could put something in the dishwasher if it's already dirty.) You know, make a phone call I need to make.
Sometimes my pattern of discouragement is because I'm waiting for encouragement to come to me, and I could get encouraged by encouraging somebody else. You have to pay attention to your patterns. I realized that sometimes when everything is all about me, I become very discouraged and defeated. When I go do something for somebody else, just even the smallest thing, what does it do? It changes the pattern. When the pattern of my day changes, the product of the day changes, so that at the end of the day I don't feel discouraged. I might have started discouraged, but when I found out what was discouraging me, when I saw the pattern, I turned that thing around and I ended my day on top, not on bottom, because I recognized the pattern.
When I speak negatively about others, even in a joking way, I noticed that creates a pattern of negativity, a pattern of judgment. You know where Jesus said, "If you judge others, beware, or you'll be judged yourself"? I always thought other people were going to judge me if I judged others. What I found out is if you speak judgmental words and have judgmental thoughts, you turn on yourself and start judging your own self, because you started a pattern of judgment in your mind, and now you're in enemy-held territory and it created a pattern of pessimism and you'll be your own worst enemy.
I can catch my pattern. "Oh, the reason I feel horrible is because I just said three toxic things about people". I wondered what would 2015 be like if I lived the whole year like I had butt-dialed the person I was talking about in my pocket while I was having the conversation about them. Patterns. You have to learn your patterns. Pay attention to your patterns. It's good to pray and ask God to do things in your life, but also pay attention to your own patterns. Don't let prayer become a substitute for pattern discernment. You have to learn your patterns.
I've learned my patterns of distraction, so I know when I'm doing something important I'm tempted to be distracted. When I'm working on something and I feel myself distracted about it, I realize my distraction is a sign that this is really important. For me, I found out that sometimes it's more fun to talk about my sermon than to actually prepare it. So my pattern of distraction is I'll do anything other than work on the thing I'm supposed to work on. If you make it personal, you say, "I'm a procrastinator".
Again, you don't get to just make that your personality type, not if you're a child of God, not if you have royal blood flowing inside of you, not if you're a changed creation in Jesus Christ, according to 2 Corinthians 5:17, with a new heart, with new desires. You have to learn your patterns, and if you don't like the product, change the pattern. Some of us have patterns of self-pity. You embrace the feeling of being excluded, immediately interpreting things people say and don't say as a personal insult to you. It's a pattern. What is that pattern producing in your life? Do you like it? Do you want to pass it on to little April? Do you want to pass it on to Jake? Is that going to be your legacy? Because you will have a legacy, and it will be your pattern.
Parents, this is sobering. We set a pattern for our kids. They will fight with their spouse the way they saw us interact with ours. It's a pattern. One of the best things my dad ever did for me… I tell this about once a year, because it was so powerful. He recognized the pattern. He used to tell me when I was about Elijah's age… So around 9 this course of conversation started. He'd say, "Son, everybody in your family has been an alcoholic on my side. On my side of the family, everybody has been an alcoholic. It's in your genes to be an alcoholic. So when you go to a party in high school and they offer you alcohol, before you do it, because everybody else is going to be doing it, but I want you to understand…"
He didn't use the word, but he was teaching me the power of that pattern. He was saying, "You're predisposed to like it". But he gave me a vision. He said, "You could decide to be the first Furtick on this side to make a decision to break the pattern, to say, 'I'm not passing this pattern on to another generation.'" Some of us need to decide, "I'm not passing compulsive spending on. I'm not passing anger and temper. I'm not passing this pattern on. I'm changing the pattern. I'm changed by Jesus. I'm changing". You can have a good heart and horrible habits, and your heart can't overpower your habits. You have to change the pattern.