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Do You Believe What You Believe? Character Training

“We always live up to our beliefs—or down to them, as the case may be. Nothing else is possible.” -Dallas Willard

 “Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these…” -Jesus of Nazareth

Without further ado, let’s practice!

(As a reminder, if you have not yet done so, go back and read the posts that this practice is based on prior to engaging with the practice itself)

For this week, our Character Training, will focus on what we’ve been talking about: Belief. So what I’m going to offer here is a practice to help us identify and (potentially) develop what we believe.

Brief Disclaimer: For some, the practices that I offer might seem uncomfortable at first, so I will always ask that you trust me going forward, in the same way that your doctor might ask you to trust them as they are about to re-adjust your dislocated shoulder. There may be some momentary discomfort, but ultimately the temporary pain will result in your good. So I promise you that these exercises, if committed to, will always help you grow into the kind of person you were created to be.

So, trust the process, and let’s roll.

As always, before beginning any practice, we ask God to help us in what we are about to do, recognizing that, without our effort, He won’t, but without His grace, we can’t.

Step One: Awareness

Spend a day (maybe start tomorrow morning) to practice becoming hyper aware of your activities during that 24 hour period. Take notice of TEN things that you do on an everyday basis that you find particularly noteworthy.

When you notice something, write it down. For example, if you’ve ever done something that made you stop for a moment after the fact and ask, “why did I do that?” those are the REALLY good ones. Write those down IMMEDIATELY.

  • Did the way you brushed your teeth this morning somehow make you take notice of it? Write it down.

  • Did you say a particular phrase to someone that made you think about it after the fact? Write it down.

  • Did someone else notice something about you and make you aware of it? Well, they’ve graciously done 10% of your homework for you. Thank them and write it down!

Please remember that the point of this step is not to discourage you or make you magnify all the negative things you might be doing. It’s simply to help you increase your awareness of certain behaviors and habits. There is a difference between “self-conscious” and “self-aware.” and we’re striving for the latter.

If at any point it becomes a struggle to find ten things, stop and ask God to help you notice what needs to be noticed. Perhaps you can borrow the bold prayer from Psalm 139:23: “Search me, O God, and know my heart, test me and know my thoughts.”

Here’s an example from when I attempted this exercise: I noticed that whenever I walked my dog, I would always bring headphones.

That’s it. For some reason, God brought that to my attention, so I wrote it down.

(As you’re writing your list of ten things, be sure to leave space between each)

There’s no rush on this process. If it takes you more than a day, that’s ok. Be patient and wait for some examples to emerge. Once you have ten, you’re ready for step two.

Step Two: The Assessment

Once you have your list, in the space that you left below each action, attempt to put into words how that action might reflect a belief that you have. Some of these might be silly, others not so silly.

  • If you noticed that you brushed your teeth, perhaps that action would reveal, “By brushing my teeth every day I believe that it’s important to maintain good dental hygiene” or “I believe that gingivitis and gum cancer are real things that can plague someone who doesn’t brush their teeth.”

  • If you noticed that you lock your front door every night before going to sleep, you might write “By locking my door every day, I believe that it’s important to keep myself, my belongings, and my family safe” or “I believe that my neighborhood is not 100% safe.”

I don’t want to give you too many rules or boundaries that you must stay within. Get creative with it. And trust that God, now that you have asked Him for help, is directing your attention towards these things.

And once again, if you get roadblocked, keep asking God to help reveal what your actions are telling you about your beliefs.

My example from Step Two: In a case that became a bit more serious, here’s what God revealed to me through my choosing to walk with headphones every time...

“By putting on headphones every time I go for a walk, I believe that listening to music, podcasts, or audiobooks will always be more fulfilling than walking in silence, talking to a neighbor, or enjoying the present moment.”


You see how this exercise can get a little uncomfortable? It took me a while to come to terms with this. I’ve always considered myself the kind of person who believes in the value of time spent in silence, of connecting with strangers, and of staying in the present moment as much as possible. But, as Willard puts it in the quote above, it’s not so much that I wasn’t living up to those beliefs, it’s that I WAS living up to DIFFERENT beliefs. God showed me an actual belief that is deep within me: that I’d rather drown out my surroundings with constant “noise” than with silence.

Step Three: The Challenge

Now, if you’re happy and satisfied with your results, then you have no need to continue to the final step. Your actions, for the most part, reflect beliefs that you consider good, right, and virtuous. For example, it IS objectively good to take care of your teeth, so the fact that your actions (brushing your teeth daily and nightly) reflect that you do, in fact, believe this to be true is a GOOD thing, and should make you feel a sense of comfort.

But maybe not all ten on your list made you feel comforted. And if you’re like me and there were a few results on your list that you didn’t enjoy discovering, then this might be a sign that what you’re saying you believe, or what you WANT to believe, is not quite what you actually believe.

And that’s ok. Now you have a starting point. Now you have officially gained company with the man who stood before Jesus and cried out, “help me with my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24) So join me in allowing Jesus to do just that.

Now, take the ones that bugged you and pick ONE that you will use for step three. If you’re struggling to narrow it down, ask yourself, “Which one bugged me the most?” And if you’re STILL feeling stuck, ask God to make one crystal clear to you, one that will “jump off the page.”

Once you have your “one,” ask this question:

What would it look like to trust Jesus with this “one?”

What would it look like to take one small step towards altering that action so that it begins to reflect the belief I truly want to have?

Back to my example: I had to ask myself, “If I WANT to live a life that reflects that I believe in the power of silence, community, and being in the moment, then how can I trust Jesus to help me live in a such a way?”

And the answer I sensed Jesus gave me was in the form of a simple question: “Andrew, what would it look like for you to go on a walk without your headphones? Can you trust me enough to abandon them for one walk? Can you posture yourself to receive whatever and whoever comes into your line of sight as messengers sent by me? Can you open your eyes a little wider to the beauty of this present moment? Can you use the time you would spend listening to noise to think about me and my goodness instead?”

So I took a step, a very small step, and went for a walk in silence. No headphones. No technology at all. Just me and my dog….and Jesus.

Full disclosure: nothing incredibly miraculous or earth-shattering happened on that walk. I did not baptize 5 atheists during my 20-minute jaunt.

But you know what did happen? I opened the door to a process of trust. I made a little more room for God to shape and mold my heart, to speak into the little amount of silence that I provided Him, and to fill my soul with just a bit more love and light that could overflow to others.

Jesus was right. And now I believed it.

And if God can do that with just one walk, imagine what He could do with 5, 10, 20, 50 walks?

What small step do you need to take this week? What would it look like for Jesus to speak into that “one” action that is honestly not reflecting what you want to believe nor the kind of person you want to be? What questions might Jesus ask you to help you take one small step toward believing what you believe?

Good luck, and may this practice increase your confidence in the presence of God in your life. Remember, without Him, we can’t, but with Him, “all things can be done for the one who believes!”3

Until next time, my friends!


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~ Andrew

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