I am currently taking Homiletics III this semester, which is the last preaching course for Preaching/Church Leadership majors.  In this course, we focus on preaching from the Old Testament, writing a 52 week preaching calender, learning teaching methods, and for personal transformation and growth the reading of Stephen Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”.  I feel this book is a must read for everyone.  Our professor requires us to read each habit and then write a 3 page paper giving a synopsis of the habit, your strengths and weaknesses practicing it, and the plan you have to further implement the habit.  I want to share these with those who are following my blog. Here’s the first habit:

Habit 1: Be Proactive

Synopsis of the Habit

Mr. Covey begins this discussion of proactivity by talking about the external stimuli, whether it be genetic, psychic, or environmental determinism, and our reactions/responses to those stimuli.  The basic definition of proactive is that as humans beings we are taking responsibility of our own lives, recognize that responsibility, and react out of that responsibility to those external sources.

Behavior lies not in the external stimuli or our conditions, but in our decisions thus we have the freedom to choose how we respond to those conditions and stimuli.  We have freedom to use our self-awareness, imagination, conscience, and independent will to create and make healthy choices based no upon our emotions, but upon our values, beliefs, and principles because we have the choice to make our emotions subordinate to our values.  Covey writes, “Highly proactive people recognize that responsibility [the ability to choose your response].  They do not blame circumstances, conditions, or conditioning for their behavior.  Their behavior is a product of their own conscious choice, based on values, rather than on a product of their conditions, based on feeling [and emotions].”

Covey conveys that it is not what happens to us that hurts us, but our response to what happens to use that hurts us.

Strengths and Weakness Surrounding the Habit

Upon reading this book, I have recalled much of what I learned from 8th grade at Mountain Mission School where we read Sean Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens” for our Career Concepts course.  What I reflect upon now is how I was not emotionally mature enough, intelligent enough, or mature enough to grasp these concepts when I was that young, not in the sense that I am grasping them now as an adult.  As an adult reading this, I do recognize the holes in my emotional maturity both then and now.  A prime example of my weakness with this habit would be my experience working on Plant Services this summer, specifically for the housekeeping crew.  One of our supervisors is a glorified micro-manager.  She is a very anxious individual and a people-pleaser.  My study of family systems theory thus far definitely tells me how anxiety within a system is easily transferrable.  I would often get very anxious once this particular supervisor came around us.  I would often let her make me upset, angry, or anxious.  I was not even that aware of it at the time because I was so reactive.  Upon talking with Derek Hefner about how horrible the summer work experience had been and the particular issues within the crew, I realized how I had let her determine my emotions rather than being in charge of them myself.  I also realized how I had contributed to a negative experience within the system at times too.

A great example of how I am working with my strengths in a positive way with this habit is my broken childhood.  I read much of this in light of my separation with Courtney last year and my brokenness from childhood.  I realized going through all that darkness that I was operating under an unhealthy paradigm and seeing through a poor lens of reactivity!  I was still reacting to my conditioning even though I was not aware of it at the time.  In the light of this book, I have seen how that was so true.  I was letting my past, something I cannot control or change, condition me to be controlling, condescending, and untrusting.  Upon dissolving that old way of thinking with this aspect of my life, I have seen that I want to operate out of responsibility and out of my values and beliefs.  I do not want to be controlling, so I do not control.  I value my wife’s independence and her ability to be free.  I base how I respond to her and how I treat her upon my values and beliefs and not upon my former paradigm and conditioning.

Implementation of the Habit

            I plan to implement this habit by first becoming more and more self-aware.  Derek Hefner and I discuss Dr. Murray Bowen’s family systems theory a lot.  One of the things we talk about is how we all have scripts that require re-writing, but often people go their whole life living under and operating out of the same script due mainly to not being self-aware.  I am learning it is super hard to re-write that script, but that is where the beauty of the Lord comes in and His continual saving of my soul and healing of its disease.  I know the Lord will continue to renew my mind and carry out the good work He has began as long as I humble myself to His molding and refining and deification.

I am at the point of understanding in my life where I am beginning to ponder what my values and beliefs exactly are.  I have some and need to discover others.  My plan is to implement this habit further by letting my principles guide me and operating out of those principles.  A concrete example of my implementing the habit is my study of Libertarian political philosophy and admiration for Dr. Ron Paul.  I am a young, liberty-loving, peace-mongering Constitutionalist!  I will vote this November based upon my values of small government, non-intervention foreign policy, sound money, peace, and civil liberties.  I will not vote “lesser of two evils” for it is a violation of my principles to vote principally based on the good.

I also intend to continue my education of Dr. Bowen’s theory and to really saturate myself with his concepts and ideas, so that I may become a better person and husband.  I believe his concepts do lead to more healthy relationships: relationships with yourself and others.  I value relationships and learning more about how to have healthy boundaries and relationships.  I study these things based out of a value, and it is that fact that gives me hope and shows me my growth as a man and as a person.

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