16 | The Daily Grind: Building Habits Through Community


It all started with a simple text to a friend. I [Matt Rumbaugh] was in Chicago at a conference and I had some time to kill. I decided to walk around the city a bit and I texted a friend to ask how I might pray for him.

“I have been pretty slack in my daily Bible reading and prayer. I’m trying to make a habit of getting up early every morning and doing it.”

Now this friend knows me well enough to know that he has entered my wheelhouse. I LOVE to talk about habits - specifically how good habits help us cultivate faithfulness in our walk with God. Research tells us that one of the most powerful ways to develop a habit is forming it in connection with a relationship. This is part of the reason groups like AA are so powerful and a big reason we emphasize small groups so much at Harvest.

Anyway, I respond: “I will definitely pray for you, but I might already be your answer. I get up pretty early in the morning. Want me to text you?”

He agreed. So for the next few weeks, whichever one of us got up first in the morning would text the other with a gentle reminder to read our Bible and pray. No heavy guilt trips or anything like that. Just, “Hey, I’m up.”

A few weeks later, another friend heard us chatting about it and he wanted in. We added him. One of his friends heard and we had to add him, too. Pretty soon, we had 7 or 8 guys chiming in every morning. The messages aren’t long or heavy. Will is a master of the silly gif. JT usually has a good pun. Guys share out of whatever reading plan they’re doing. Almost every day, someone throws out a verse from that day’s reading. We get prayer requests. I send out pictures of my coffee mug.

We’re all in different small groups and this doesn’t change the life-sharing we do there, but it’s been helpful to know that there’s a group of men waiting for me every morning to confirm that I’m going to plant myself in God’s word. Psalm 1 tells us that the wise man internalizes God’s word every day and is “like a tree, planted by streams of water.” This simple discipline ensures that I am planting myself in the water of God’s word for at least few minutes every day. In my own small group, I’ve referred to this as The Grind. It can be tough to wake up in the morning and some days I feel like I’m just grinding, but the Grind is what produces results, in this case intimacy with God. Even when I don’t feel like doing it. ESPECIALLY when I don’t feel like doing it.

At some point, we decided to name our little chat group and someone threw out "The Daily Grind," subtly calling out both the discipline of the whole thing and my devotion to my morning coffee. It stuck.

A few months later, we shared this story in small group and a couple of our young women decided to copy it. They had made plans to read the Bible together and wanted a way to check in and encourage each other. They now have their own little Daily Grind chat. And just like with our group, the little bit of accountability has built a habit that pays off all over their lives. As one of them said, “At first I thought this was going to be really hard, but now it feels weird when I don’t do it.”

There are two takeaways I hope you’ll find here: One, read your Bible every day. Two, find a friend or group of friends to help hold you in this habit. Both will pay off more than you expect.