The Christian Leader’s Non-Negotiable Habit

By C12 founder Buck Jacobs

One day, as I was sitting on my pool deck and thinking about work, God spoke to me. It was a still, small voice that said, “If you want to be effective in the lives of others, I want you to spend the first hour of each day with me.” I knew it was the Lord, and I knew exactly what He was speaking about: quiet time. I had heard and read many messages concerning the value of dedicating daily time to Scripture, prayer, and meditation. I had read the affirmations of the discipline of the “first hour with God” in the biographies of great Christians, especially of spiritual pioneers like Hudson Taylor, Martin Luther, George Müeller, Amy Carmichael, Elisabeth Elliott, and many others. They collectively testified to the value of a first-hour quiet time with God. I had tried time and time again but had failed to maintain the habit as part of my daily routine. By nature, I am not a morning person, but the still, small voice who knew my nature still called me to begin a new phase of my journey. I committed to starting the next morning.

I forgot I would be in Sarasota to lead a strategic ministry retreat for a C12 Member company. My family was traveling with me and we shared a one-room condo with a bed and a pullout couch. My journey called me to get up at 6:00 a.m., so I could be at breakfast with our Member’s team by 7:30. How could I have a quiet time without disturbing my wife and two pre-teen girls in a shared space? As I set the alarm for six, I prayed, “Lord, it would be great if you would wake me before the alarm goes off, so I don’t bother the girls.” I rolled over and went to sleep. The next time I opened my eyes was at 5:59 a.m. With what felt like a bolt of energy, I turned off the alarm, grabbed my Bible and notebook, and snuck into the bathroom. It was neither the most comfortable nor the most spiritual place, but I was going to keep my word to the Father. I sat on the floor and prayed for a moment; then, I opened my Bible. In that bathroom, I began the most helpful, life-changing habit. That was more than 30 years ago, and today it is the foundation that supports my life in Christ. Without it, C12 would never have emerged.

During the first year of my quiet times, I didn’t miss a single day. It has become the heart of my journey. The Lord taught me two foundational concepts that allowed the habit to stick and brought meaning to my mornings with Him. These two concepts have helped thousands of believers have a consistent, life-changing practice of daily quiet time: 1. Make your quiet time non-negotiable. 2. Journal your journey daily.

At C12, we say “Priorities are what we do, everything else is just talk.” We can say we want more of God in our lives and that He is the most important person in our lives. We can say His Word is our most important authority on how we need to live and that Jesus is our Savior and Lord. But if a nonbeliever were to audit what we do every day, where would he or she see a difference between us and an average, ethical nonbeliever? What legitimate difference would the nonbeliever see in the way we live because of our faith?

I promise you that your decision to have a high-quality daily quiet time with our Father will bless you now and in eternity. If you didn’t hope for that, you wouldn’t have come this far, so let’s begin.

*This is an excerpt from C12 founder Buck Jacobs’ book + journal, The Most Important Hour. To learn Buck’s method for fruitful time with God, visit

Dean Harrington, CEO of Shamrock Home Loans and C12 Member, shares why he spends his first hour of the day with God.


August 26, 2020