What is Mussar?

Mussar is the discipline of steady personal character refinement. The Hebrew term mussar (מוּסַר) is from Proverbs 1:2, meaning instruction, discipline, or conduct. Mussar is one component of being a disciple and light of Messiah.

You are the light of the world. A city that sits on the mountain will not be hidden, nor do people kindle a lamp just to put it under the bushel measure, but on the menorah, to illuminate all who are in the house. So also, shine your light before sons of men, so that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father who is in heaven.
(Matthew 5:14-16, DHE)

While there are some good books about Mussar out there (one is Everyday Holiness by Alan Morinis), we feel like they edge too close to new-age mysticism and leave out the power of God in our everyday lives. For that reason, we’re not going to recommend any books, per say, but simply introduce the process and concept here.

Mussar is a structured way to focus on particular character traits in your life, bring your need for growth to the surface, and allow God to help you correct those areas. The process of working on a character trait is very specific. The traits can be studied in any order, but for the sake of our groups and discussion, we are going to do them together in a set order, two weeks at a time. Each meeting we will discuss our growth in the trait we were doing and assign the next one.

The Daily Process of Mussar:

Each Morning: Meditate quietly on the character trait for the week for 5 minutes. Ask the Lord to show you how He wants you to grow in this area, and for strength to do it. Repeat the memory verse of the week.

During the Day: Be aware of your behaviors in that trait, your personal triggers, and times of growth. As you work on becoming more sensitive to the Holy Spirit within you, you will notice this more quickly. Work on developing positive habits that will overtake the negative ones. Consider the root sources of negative traits (for example: fear, low self-worth, pride).

Each Evening: Journal positive or negative moments related to the weekly character trait. Ask the Lord to reveal this to you if you’re having a hard time remembering.

At the End of Each 2 Weeks: Assess your growth by looking through your journal and asking the Lord to show you how you’ve developed and where you still need to work.

Each meeting we will discuss our growth in the trait we were doing and assign the next one. Every meeting we will also have a printout with information for the next character trait with practical application ideas and questions for self-reflection.

Main Sources: & Everyday Holiness, by Alan Morinis. Compiled by Judy Rich.