Think for a moment about your students. Specifically about their spiritual growth and their engagement in spiritual disciplines (or spiritual habits).

Ask yourself this question:

How do you talk about spiritual disciplines / habits? As the goal? Or as the means to achieving a goal?

Most of us inadvertently talk about spiritual disciplines / habits as the goal themselves. While we may not do it intentionally, we set up spiritual habits as the place we want our students to arrive. We think to ourselves, and maybe even communicate to students, that the goal is for them to regularly engage with the Bible, and pray, and worship, and serve, and so on.

When we talk about spiritual disciplines / habits this way, we’re wrong. We’re not way wrong. But we’re wrong enough that we set our students up for disillusionment.

Spiritual habits are not the goal of discipleship. The goal is Christ-likeness.

We know the Holy Spirit is the main driver in our growing in Christ-likeness. But spiritual disciplines / habits are the major pathways the Holy Spirit uses to make us more like Jesus. When we elevate spiritual habits as the goal themselves, we turn holy imitation into legalistic religion. There’s a difference.

Donald Whitney wrote that “discipline without direction is drudgery.” When we make Christ-likeness the goal, we point students toward the true goal, motivating them toward a discipline that results in joy, not drudgery.

So think about this today: Do you need to shift the way you think (and maybe talk to teenagers) about spiritual habits?