Column: Swearing by having good habits

Rt Rev Geoff Pearson, Bishop of Lancaster
Rt Rev Geoff Pearson, Bishop of Lancaster

A recent study produced a list of the 50 worst habits of our nation.  I wonder how many of them you would be able to tick off?

Swearing was number one in the list and thumb-sucking number 50. Shoddy diet covers a multitude of sins and then there are those irritating personal habits such as noisy throat-clearing and teeth grinding.

I can think of worse things than hoarding and procrastinating which are also on the list. Playing Candy Crush, another irritation for some, has passed me by - as has watching reality TV.

I have fallen into some of the conversational bad manners in my time however, such as ‘not listening’ and ‘interrupting’.

I recognise the overuse of social media can be annoying for some and realise how easy it is to get sucked in to look at the phone or iPad far too much, which annoys others.

One of the roles of a bishop is to encourage good or ‘holy habits’. With Confirmation Candidates and new disciples I try to encourage those habits you see in the New Testament that can develop as followers of Jesus Christ search for exciting ways to be more like Him.

Two GOOD habits near the top of the New Testament list are bible reading and prayer.

I know that my day is the poorer if I have not engaged with reading the bible either on my own or with other people. I subscribe to the well-known mantra that says, ‘Bibles that are falling apart are read by people who aren’t’.

Many great individuals like William Booth, Martin Luther King, Mother Theresa and William Wilberforce have made a difference because they have lived out the lessons they have learned from the bible.

Reading the bible is key to forming us and guiding us in the adventure of discipleship. Another habit that often kicks in when all else fails is prayer. Those, however, who start with prayer and have developed the habit of praying have a wonderful resource.

Archbishop Justin Welby reminded us recently that prayer is not about shaping God’s will but more about shaping our will to God’s.

What a gift to be able to pray anywhere, anytime. What a blessing to pick up good and holy habits.