What's in this session?

  • The importance of investing in yourself (0:18)
  • 10 minutes of mindfulness meditation in silence (2:08)
  • Read: Personal development book & the Bible (3:24)
  • Journal: Goals, learnings, gratitudes & prayers (4:16)
  • Alex's experiences (7:44)

Show notes and resources

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The Transcript

Alex Mills: Well hey there, welcome to Pro Church Daily. This is the show where, in ten minutes or less, you’re gonna get your daily dose of tips and tactics to help your church share the message of Jesus while we navigate the biggest communication shift we’ve seen in the last 500 years. I’m your host, Alex Mills. I’m joined as always by the boss man, it’s Brady Shear, and today we’re talking about how to develop a morning routine.

Brady Shear: I think, Alex, that finding a way to invest in yourself in the morning each day is, what I’ve found in my own personal experience, to be the number one way to work smarter, to work harder, better, and not just in work but to be a better human to your family, your friends, and your co-workers. And I’ve been tinkering with my morning routine in 2018, mixing it up. I’ve always woken up early but I’ve been trying to, rather than jump right into my work, even if it is the creative part of my work, to kind of carve out an extra 30 to 60 minutes in the morning where I can create a morning routine that will allow me to work even harder, even smarter, even better. And also kind of embody the idea of putting on your own oxygen mask before you put on ones of others.

Alex Mills: There you go.

Brady Shear: Just figure out making sure that you are in the right place. I can’t be a good boss, I can’t be a good Pro Church Daily member, I cannot be a good husband or father if I don’t have myself figured out first. And so this is what I like to use my morning routine for, and so I wanted to talk through what I’ve been doing in my morning routine and then I’ll pass it over to you and you can share your personal experiences as well.

So, here’s what I do: I use the Sleep Cycle app every single morning, which gives me a 30 minute window where, based on my own sleep patterns and the recognition software within the Sleep Cycle app, it will awaken me within a 30 minute time period that is most optimal for me to be awoken in. So I set it from 5:30 AM to 6 AM and my Sleep Cycle alarm will wake me up at some time there. I get in my car, I drive the one mile from my house to our office, unlock the door, turn on all the lights, turn on the heat that was turned off and it is now 64, I make sure that it is 72 (74), where I want it to be in the morning. And that is when I begin my one hour morning routine ritual.

So the first thing that I do is I do ten minutes of mindfulness meditation. I do a ton with devices, I’m always on the go, always doing things; stimulation, stimulation, stimulation. Every day I like to take ten minutes to just sit in silence. Depending on the time of year, it might be dark in the room, sun might be rising. It’s just ten minutes in silence, and I like to couple this mindfulness meditation with prayer; and so it’s kind of a centering prayer, kind of a mindfulness meditation.

What I do is in my breaths in, I imagine that I’m breathing in the love of Jesus into my own life and Jesus is restoring my own soul, and then with every exhale I imagine that I’m breathing out the love of Jesus into the world. So an inhale is Jesus’ love encompassing me and everything that I need from the Lord, and then the exhale is me giving that out to my wife, my kids, my friends, my family, my co-workers.

Alex Mills: Co-host.

Brady Shear: Eh. The exhale’s been used up at that point and I gotta inhale again, and we start the process again.

Alex Mills: Just not enough time for me. It’s fine.

Brady Shear: And I literally, you know, just imagine this. And that’s a great way to start the morning; that’s the first ten minutes. Usually by that time, the coffee is brewed so I’ll get the coffee going at that point, and then I get into the reading portion of the morning.

And I like to read personal development books in the morning along with the Bible, so we have the Biblioteca … Is that what … Yeah. So I have that at the office and so I’ll break that out for a little Bible reading, and then my morning reading diet will almost always consist of personal development books. I like this idea of having a varying diet with your books just like you would with the food that you eat, and so that means autobiographies, it means books on cooking, it means personal development, it means books on faith, it means books on sports, it means books on investing. But the morning, I like to do personal development.

So right now I’m reading this book called The Beauty of Discomfort by Amanda Lang and it’s all about how embracing discomfort is really the path to seeing the things that you want in your life, and if you want to big action and do big things, it’s not gonna be fun, it’s not gonna be easy. You have to learn to love that process.

So that’s the book that I’m reading in the morning right now, I read that, and then I get into the journaling. So I have four sections to my morning journaling practice; the first section is called goals, the second one is learnings, the third is gratitudes, and the fourth is prayers. They are all plurals for consistency’s sake because I’m a little ADHD. Or OCD in this case, I’m a little both. So the first one is goals and the way that I structure my goals is I write them as “I will” statements. So they’re not “I hope to accomplish,” they’re not “This is what I’m planning on doing,” it’s “This is what I will do,” and that’s just a way of stating it for my own brain as almost an actuality; as a thing that already exists. And so I say, “I will eat 1800 calories today,” “I will reach 12% body fat by July 1st,” “I will be present with my friends and family today and I will not be distracted by work.” So these are some that I’ve been writing most recently.

Then I get into my learnings, and this is usually stuff that I’ve read from the book that I find most actionable, I’ll write those down. Maybe it’s something from the day before. I notice that, you know, the other day I was feeling like I was being pulled back into work and not being as present at home and with friends as I wanted to be, and so I just wrote that down; I just acknowledged it. I said here’s how I’m feeling, and a lot of the times the most healthy practice is just getting that out and making sure it’s on paper. Hey, this is the way that I’m feeling, I hope it doesn’t keep happening this way, but I’m feeling this way right now and I just need to acknowledge that rather than ignore it.

And then we get into the the gratitudes. I like to write three grateful statements each day. So I’m trying to remember what I wrote this morning, but I know one of them was … Okay, I know one of them yesterday. It was, “God, I’m grateful that my daughter is sleeping through the nights and this is getting my wife and I great sleep.” Of course, the grateful statement turned into the jinx statement and she was horrible last night; she kept waking up and saying, “I’m having a dream. There’s a witch that’s getting me,” which is so tragic. And so I ended up sleeping in her room on the bed.

Alex Mills: And you’re like, “But Lily, I wrote this in my journal!”

Brady Shear: And I was … You know what? I’m still grateful.

And so, you know, if there’s anyone who should be grateful, I feel like it’s me. Like my life is everything that I could ever want when it comes to work, family, friends, and life. And so even despite that, I find myself, as human nature is, you get comfortable in your own situation and you start being like only focusing on the negatives. And I just hate that. And so I want to be grateful and I need to acknowledge those things; I need to put them on paper and find three that I’m super grateful for, so I write those down, and then finally prayers.

I have a weird thing with prayer. Again, probably because of my own like privilege and awesomeness of life in every way. I don’t really like asking God for things, like “Lord, please help this nucleus launch to go great.” I just can’t pray a prayer like that, and you can imply or insinuate whatever you think in that. The way I like to pray is I say, “God, grant me … ” And so I’m trying to figure out a way to love and embrace discomfort, so I literally wrote in my prayers this morning, I was like “God, grant me feelings of uncertainty and situations that are unfamiliar and uncomfortable so that I can learn to embrace that,” because I know that that’s the only way that I can become the man that I truly want to be.

So I’m asking the Lord, I’m asking God for just scenarios that will allow Him to shape me into the person that I want to be rather than using Him as like a genie; “Oh Lord, give me a Raptor’s win tonight.”

Alex Mills: Yes. Although we would take one of those.

Brady Shear: We’ll take one of those.

And so that’s my morning routine in three steps, basically.

Alex Mills: Cool. My dad has always been one to just like get up way before the sun, and he just journals for hours-

Brady Shear: Classic pastor.

Alex Mills: … and reads his scriptures. Yeah. And I’ve always envied that in him, but when I was a kid, not enough to actually put it into practice. And so I don’t remember when this happened for me, probably sometime just out of high school, and you’re kinda becoming an adult and your priorities change and I decided okay, I’m gonna become a morning person; I’m gonna try this.

And at first it was like really hard. Like when your internal time clock … You know, you have one of those; I don’t know how it works, but it’s definitely there. And so when you’re conditioned to wake up at 8 o’clock in the morning, if you try and wake up at 5:30 or 6, like that can be really hard. And so it took some time for me to like get acquainted with waking up early, but now I get up at … I use the same app; I’ve been using Sleep Cycle for years. I love how gentle the alarm is as opposed to just like loud and obnoxious; not like air horns waking you up or dogs barking. It’s like this really soothing alarm, and then if you let it go past that 30 minutes it just starts vibrating incessantly and it’s like you need to get up now.

But I’ve been using Sleep Cycle and I love it. It wakes me up at 5:45 every morning and I get up and I-

Brady Shear: We have like the same wake up time. That’s cute.

Alex Mills: Yeah. And I take it really easy. Like my wife, she’s still asleep at that point so I have some time to myself. I don’t come to the office and join you at 5:45.

Brady Shear: I wouldn’t want you to.

Alex Mills: Yeah. And so what I do is I go into the kitchen and I make my morning coffee, and I love coffee and so it’s for the end goal of drinking the beverage, but there’s something like so ritual about making the coffee. It’s so important to my daily routine. Like you’ve traveled with me multiple times, you know that wherever we go, I’m bringing my coffee brewing equipment; I have to physically, like with my hands, brew this coffee before the sun rises. There’s something about it for me.

And then usually I’ll sit on the couch with my breakfast and I like quiet, but I don’t always take it in the morning because usually in the mornings I like to get caught up on current events and sports before I get to work. I don’t really like scrolling through that stuff at work. I like to get caught up with it on my own time first in the quiet. And I don’t want to do it when my wife’s awake because I don’t want to be watching sports while she’s around; I want to be present with her, you know? So I’ll watch like a half an hour of sports highlights and get caught up with current events, kinda take it easy, and usually I’ll read a book.

And maybe this is sacrilegious of a pastor to say, but I don’t read my Bible in the mornings very frequently. It’s not … And I would recommend this to anyone listening, like if you’re gonna read the scriptures on a daily basis or on a routine, you have to know when is the good time for you because it’s some of the heaviest reading. Like you [crosstalk 00:10:17]

Brady Shear: It’s not easy. Like it’s not personal development; it’s like “What does that mean? Oh, I gotta work through that.”

Alex Mills: And so like approaching that book at 6 o’clock in the morning is just not always healthy for me. There was a season where I was reading ten psalms every morning and that was really cool and really centering, but I can’t be reading Ecclesiastes or Leviticus at 6 o’clock in the morning.

So I’ll read a book and-

Brady Shear: I was reading John 1 this morning. I was like, “The word is with God? What?”

Alex Mills: I can’t … He was there, but He was the word, and He is … I can’t even.

Brady Shear: This is too much.

Alex Mills: But getting up before the sun or with the sun, and especially in the spring and the summer when you can outside and do it and take some time with nature, that’s life-giving to me. If I’m not up and have those two hours before my day begins, I’m working from behind for the rest of the day.

And so doing the work to turn myself into a morning person has really benefited, like you said, not just myself but all the people around me; my co-workers, my wife, my family, my friends. And so it’s been good for us, maybe it’ll be good for you too.

Brady Shear: That’ll do it for today’s episode of Pro Church Daily. We’ll see you tomorrow.



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