051 – How washing dishes changed my life. [Podcast]

The secret benefit of simple, powerful habits

washing dishes


Welcome to Season 2 of the Your Church Matters podcast.  In this episode (51), I told a story of an amazing insight I got from a newly chosen habit: washing dishes.



Actually, the habit is not simply washing dishes.  My newly chosen habit is washing dishes every night before going to bed.  It was inspired by reading The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.  I mentioned some of my thinking on that in Episode 43: What are keystone habits and why should we have them?

Ever since completing that book and doing that podcast, I’ve been thinking about habits.  So a couple of months ago, I asked myself, “What is the absolutely easiest habit I could start with?”  I happened to be walking by a sink full of dirty dishes at the time and I was inspired to ask, “What if I did not allow myself to go to bed each night as long as there are dirty dishes in the kitchen?”  I started that night and have only missed two nights since.

So, what does this have to do with the church?  I’m going to get to that, so stick with me.  First, you have to understand the significance of dish washing for me.


My history with dish washing

  • When we were growing up, my younger brother and I were required to wash dishes.
  • Neither of us have treasured that memory, nor have we embraced dish washing.
  • The first Christmas present I ever gave my wife was a portable dishwasher
  • I love to cook, but I HATE washing dishes!
  • Because of my wife’s disability, the household chores belong to me (now that we are empty-nesters).
  • In case I forgot to mention, I HATE washing dishes!


The benefits of my newly chosen habit of dish washing

  • I am blessing my wife.
  • It is one of the easiest things I do if I do it daily (usually no more than 5 minutes).
  • I don’t have to do a panic dish washing if guests are coming.
  • I have a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day when I look at a clean and uncluttered sink.


And the Number One benefit: How I feel when I walk into my kitchen each morning.

That may sound completely self-centered, but here’s the truth: I am energized and focused on my morning time with God because I am not met with and distracted by dirty dishes.  A simple act at the end of one day increases my effectiveness at the beginning of the next day.


Implications for the church

  • We should not confuse what we do (methods) with who we are (message).   I am not a dishwasher.  I am a Christ-following husband who washes dishes.  Don’t let your church’s methods define you.  Your identity is a local group of Christ-followers focused on glorifying God and making disciples in your unique context.
  • Our methods should serve our message.  My goal in life is not to have a clean and uncluttered sink.  The clean and uncluttered sink contributes to my focus on what really matters. Choose methods that contribute to your focus.  Scrap methods that distract from it.
  • We often devise methods that are too complicated or too ambitious.  I don’t clean and sanitize the entire house every day.  In fact, I pay someone to come and give my house a good cleaning every other week.  That way, I can give primary focus to the things that I do best and are most important.  Your church doesn’t need more complexity of structure and activity.  You need more clarity of focus.
  • We often fail to recognize the momentum that can be generated by small wins.  I’m already thinking about the next small habit that I can embrace.  If dish washing can make this much difference, I can only imagine what’s next!


So, what’s the simplest and easiest to implement habit that you could embrace in your church to eliminate distractions and help you focus on what matters most?


To comment on this episode or leave a question for a future episode:

1. Comment section below

2. Email: contactgerrylewis@gmail.com

3. Voicemail: 817-929-0643

4. Direct tweet @drgerrylewis

*Special thanks to Keith Cooper (Guitar Music)

*Special thanks to Nathan Woodward (Saxophone Music)


Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive, argumentative, off-topic, or just plain unhelpful.