A few years ago a viral video circulated of Navy Seal Admiral McRaven giving the commencement speech at University of Texas, Austin. Maybe you saw it.
The most memorable quote came when the admiral said that the best way to start off your day was by making your bed. He listed all of the benefits of doing something as simple as making your bed first thing each day and how it sets off a chain reaction of productivity and order in one’s life. It was good, simple, and useful advice.
But there is another habit which, if practiced daily, will rightly shape not just your day, but your life—and even your eternity.
I’m talking about beginning your day with reading the Word of God. I’m convinced it is the number one thing you can do in order to lead a more productive life for God.
Here are a few reasons why the most important thing you can do each morning to have a productive day is read your Bible.
Begins the Day with a Habit
The first reason reading your Bible daily leads to a productive life is in the simple truth that it begins your day with a habit, and habits are contagious.
Setting aside the clear spiritual benefits of this discipline for a moment, consider that when you practice a healthy habit other habits become easier to cultivate alongside it.
I’ve often marveled at the fact that when I’m in the habit of exercising daily other habits seem to just line themselves up behind it as if all on their own. Those who study the psychology of habits call these kinds of practices “cornerstone habits” because they start the building process for a life of healthy habits.
But even better than exercise, I’ve found that daily Bible reading is the best cornerstone habit for Christians. Because when you start reading the Bible consistently, the rest of your life takes shape around it. So daily Bible reading is important because it begins your day with a cornerstone habit.
The most significant benefits of daily Bible reading, however, are spiritual.
Reminds You of Your Purpose
The second reason that you should begin your day with Bible reading is because it reminds you of why you’re here.
The cares and troubles of this world have a way of driving our real purpose from our minds. Remember it was the cares of this present life which choked out faith in the thorny soil (Mark 4:19). Even true believers can get knocked off course if we let our eyes linger for too long on the temporal, forgetting our eternal purpose. But consistent Bible reading helps us keep our focus in the right place.
When we don’t consistently orient our hearts toward God and his purposes we find ourselves fixating on less important things—some issue at work, relationships, or vain ambition are always competing to occupy our attention. And while these matters do matter, if we linger on them for too long, we tend to forget what matters most.
Our minds need to be consistently being filled with thoughts of the Lord, eternity, and the purpose for which He has put us here.
Fixing our eyes on Jesus is the only way to walk by faith in this world of distraction (Hebrews 12:2). The best way to do this is to read your Bible every day. It realigns our purpose back to that great mission objective which is found everywhere in the Scriptures: we’re here to glorify God.
What better habit to start the day with?
Sets Your Priorities
The third reason Bible reading is the best daily habit is that it sets your priorities straight.
The simple choice of picking up your Bible before you pick up your phone in the morning is an act of defiance against your sinful heart. As dual citizens of heaven and earth, we must engage with the concerns of this world throughout our day, but we don’t need to do so unprepared. We should begin the morning with habits that equip us for the spiritual battles of the day ahead.
When you start your morning with the news, or social media, you are setting the tone for the new day. Just as a hatchling adopts the first face he sees as mother, so what you first engage with has a permanent effect on the rest of your day.
Don’t believe me? Consider the content of your water-cooler talk at work. “Did you hear about … ?” Whether it was the breaking news, a sport-center recap, a TV show, movie, or an article in your Twitter feed, your mind is on the latest temporal thing. There’s nothing wrong with these things as such, but we talk about them because that’s what we’ve stocked our mind with in the morning and the day before.
How much better it would be if we, through the daily habit of Bible reading, set our hearts on those things which are above (Colossians 3:2)!
What transcendence would our daily interactions then be marked by!
And what’s more, consider how a daily encounter with divine revelation fits you for the day, to work with all your might, to do all to the glory of God, to work not as men-pleasers, but for God.
Daily Bible reading truly is a habit well worth cultivating
If your aim is to be a productive Christian, then you need to not just good habits but the best habit of all. And the best habit to start your day with is reading the Living Word of God.
If you want more on how to implement this practice, check out course on morning routines. POWER Mornings: The Morning Routine for Productive Christians.