Journaling is a noble discipline, not a hobby
Journaling has become a by-gone practice that I believe has unfortunately robbed us Christians of some great benefits. I’m a man, and sometimes men raise an eyebrow or two over hearing of other men who practice this discipline. I mean, what man hasn’t heard and read the wise proverb found in 1 Hesitations 45:23 KJV
“keepest thou not a journal lest thine manhood be questioned.”
But after I had been challenged by other godly men and even witnessed other faithful pastors steeped in this discipline, I gave it a shot. After I realized its incredible value (as many men tend to view things worth investing time in) I had to make it a routine. It couldn’t be something I did on occasion or in a slot on my time budget labeled “yeah, you’re good, go ahead.”
So, first rule, understand that it is a noble discipline, not a hobby. Below I want to lay out, quickly, a couple of reasons I keep a journal and why I have for a while now. I also will share with you some helpful resources that have helped me so that hopefully it can help you begin or refine your journaling.
1. Journaling confirms a healthy view of the past
Each morning, I have a routine. I get up (most days) around 5 am and make a mad sprint to the Keurig. I then sit down and I begin praying, sometimes writing my prayers in my journal. I have a Moleskin Notebook that I use as a prayer journal and Journal itself. After prayer, the process is as follows:
I always seek to answer the questions as candidly as possible, even if it hurts. This is more than just a journal; it’s a record of my growth in Christ.
This process is influenced by Michael Hyatt, a leadership podcaster I follow but modified to fit what I need.
- “What happened yesterday?”
- “What were my biggest wins yesterday?”
- “What lessons did I learn that I don’t want to forget?”
2. Journaling positions the attitude of the present
After answering the questions of yesterday, I begin to prayerfully examine my heart. During this phase, I want to open myself up before the Lord and have Him run a diagnostic on my current attitude and heart towards Him, others and myself. As I mentioned before, sometimes my answers hurt because some mornings I don’t feel like reading His Word, or I don’t feel like speaking with my wife. Or, perhaps, God uncovers some bitterness and malice toward someone else. This is a time to get right, repent, and have God purify my motivations and heart. This is where I tend to get lazy, but if I am honest then that’s where I see the most fruit. At times, I also will add to it to surprise myself (If that’s even possible).
- “How am I feeling right now?
- “What am I thankful for right now?
- “Where is the biggest area that I need to surrender More to Christ today?”
These questions always spark very good conversations between the Lord and I. Remembering yesterday and recapping what happened, both good and bad, while also peering into my own heart gives me a launch into the day ahead. I’m ready. I’m prepped. I’m confessed-up. I’m prayed up. I’m focused. It sets the tone for my walk with Christ through each day.
3. Journaling sets the attitude for the future
This is my favorite part. This is where I review what I read in my quiet time with the Lord and write down what my takeaway was and the action steps I need to take to apply it. It forces me to think through what I’ve read and mentally “chew” on it and savor each word. These are the questions I then ask of myself:
- “What did I read today?”
- I simply write down he reference to the Scripture that I read which is usually a chapter from one book and a chapter from another. (Ex: 1 Samuel 9 & Proverbs 10)
“What stood out to me the most?”
- This is where I carefully grasp what the Bible says, and I walk through what I must do to obey what it says.
“What are my plans for the day?”
- This is where I summarize my day as I would prefer it to go, barring the providence of God. You’d be amazed at how writing things out actually do keep you mindful of them through the day.
These questions then help me develop my mindset for the day and to get focused on what’s ahead. Also, I do use a planner that helps me funnel my biggest goals for the day and you can find more information on that here.
You may be wondering “how much room does this take?” My moleskin notebook is the largest size they offer and it usually takes up the entire page I begin with. I find myself starting with a new page each morning.
This blog post is simply a bare-bones approach to this, as I have much more information that I could share with you. I’ll be sure to write about that at a later time!
Resources you may like:
- Michael Hyatt’s article archives on journaling. I found this very beneficial.
- Donald S. Whitney’s book on the spiritual disciplines is an extraordinary view of the discipline of journaling.
- The Full Focus Plannerby Michael Hyatt is a life-saver when it comes to planning out my goals and my agenda on a daily, weekly, and annual basis.