Josh2014-500wThere is a difference between simple and easy. It is simple to get from my house in New Mexico to Jacksonville, Fl. Just hop on I-10, which runs through the south side of Las Cruces, where I live. Head east on I-10 for two days, eight hours, and fourteen minutes. Simple, but not easy.

Making disciples is simple: lead people into the habit of a daily Quiet Time. Simple, but not easy.

How hard is it to form a habit and make it stick? The medical community provides some insight.

Dr. Edward Miller is dean of the medical school and chief executive officer of the hospital at John Hopkins University. He gave a speech at Rockefeller University, an elite medical research center in New York City.

He talked about patients whose arteries are so clogged that any kind of exertion is terribly painful for them. It hurts too much to take a long walk. It hurts too much to make love. So surgeons have to implant pieces of plastic to prop open their arteries, or remove veins from their legs to stitch near the heart so the blood can bypass the blocked passages. The procedures are traumatic and expensive—they can cost more than $100,000. More than one and a half million people every year in the United States undergo coronary bypass graft or angioplasty surgery at a total price of around $60 billion. Although these surgeries are astonishing feats, they are no more than temporary fixes. The operations relieve the patients’ pain, at least for a while, but only rarely—fewer than 3 percent of the cases—prevent the heart attacks they’re heading toward or prolong their lives. The bypass grafts often clog up within a few years; the angioplasties, in only a few months.

Knowing these grim statistics, doctors tell their patients: If you want to keep the pain from coming back, and if you don’t want to have to repeat the surgery, and if you want to stop the course of your heart disease before it kills you, then you have to switch to a healthier lifestyle. You have to stop smoking, stop drinking, stop overeating, start exercising, and relieve your stress.

But very few do.

“If you look at people after coronary-artery bypass grafting two years later, ninety percent of them have not changed their lifestyle,” Miller said. “And that’s been studied over and over and over again. And so we’re missing some link in there. Even though they know they have a very bad disease and they know they should change their lifestyle, for whatever reason, they can’t.”[1]

“For whatever reason…” What reason? Bad habits—even life threatening bad habits—are extremely hard to break. Good habits are extremely hard to form. “Good habits are hard to form and easy to live with. Bad habits are easy to form and hard to live with. If we don’t consciously form good ones, we will unconsciously form bad ones.”[2]

Making disciples is simple: get them to have a Quiet Time. But, never confuse this with easy.


[1] Change or Die by Alan Deutschman

[2] Mark Matteson, Freedom from Fear: The Story of One Man’s Discovery of Simple Truths That Lead to Wealth, Joy and Peace of Mind