New York University psychologist John Bargh conducted experiments on unsuspecting graduates. One involved a scrambled-sentence test. One group of students received a test sprinkled with rude words like disturb, bother and intrude. Another group had polite words like respect, considerate, and yield. The subjects thought they were taking tests measuring intelligence, but the word trend primed them subconsciously.
After taking the test, the students were asked to walk down the hall and talk to a person about their next assignment. When they arrived they found the person engaged in a conversation. The goal was to see how long it would take students to interrupt. Turns out the group who just read rude words interrupted, on average, after five minutes. But 82 percent of those who had read polite words never interrupted at all.
The effect is what Mark Batterson calls “priming.” Our minds are subconsciously primed by everything that is happening all the time. Another study was done where two groups of students had to answer forty-two questions from the Trivial Pursuit game. Just before answering, one group was told to contemplate and write down what it be like to be a university professor. The other group was told to think about soccer. The professor group got 55.6% of the questions right. The soccer group? 42.6%.
One thing this all means is that your entire day is influenced (even if you don’t realize it) by how you start your day, by what you “prime” your mind with. And that’s why it’s critical that we start our day by reading the Bible. Tomorrow starts a new year, and your 2012 will be drastically better if you start each day by reading the Bible. We have a brand new Bible Reading Plan (you can download it at www.vervecatalysts.org; click on “Bible Reading Plan” in the menu on top) and there’s nothing you could do better for yourself than decide to follow it throughout 2012. It will take you about 10 minutes a day, but it will impact every other minute of your day. And we need that. So let’s do it.