We need help in making God-honoring changes in our lives. Last time I covered the first 5 steps to achieve lasting change. Here’s the rest.
6. Evaluate your failures
Instead of constantly berating yourself, evaluate why you failed. Use your defeat to propel you forward.
Were your defenses down due to tiredness, stress, or some bad news? What could you do the next time you face those same conditions?
Perhaps your goal is unrealistic or not God’s will for you.
If it’s causing you undue stress, then you need to reassess.
Phil 4:6 tells us to be “anxious for nothing.” Discipline involves work not worrying!
Take the example of switching to organic foods. I know some people who have become obsessed with this way of eating. Every time they go to a restaurant they stress themselves out unduly—worrying if it’s truly organic? Or when there’s no organic choices on the menu, they eat something with the fear of getting cancer or some other malady.
I personally don’t think that’s worth it. The stress will kill you first! That’s why step 3 of evaluating the cost is important.
Another extreme is in the area of exercise. Some people feel they have to work out everyday in order to be healthy—such unnecessary stress based on lies! It would be far wiser to exercise in moderation and to start gradually. Increase the frequency as the Lord leads and your schedule permits.
In both these cases, the habit has become an idol! Instead become obsessed with Jesus.
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things [including changing habits] will be given to you as well.” (Mat 6:33)*
7. It’s a process
Change always takes time. Don’t expect victory over night. Our sinful nature, the world, and Satan are always pulling us in the direction away from God’s way. Celebrate each victory—not with a piece of cake—but with an acknowledgement that you did do it right this time. And please don’t forget to praise the One who enabled you to have that victory!
8. Keep going
No coasting. The more you exercise your willpower, the easier it will become. But that doesn’t mean it’ll always be easy. There will be days when even the most dedicated athlete will not feel like practicing, but they do it anyway; they persevere if their why is strong enough.
Sometimes the battle will be so fierce that you’ll have to fight with every ounce of your being to win. But remember this is God’s fight if your goal is in line with His (Ex 14:14). Your fight is primarily against your own will—to lay all of your being (feelings, desires, etc.) under the control of the Lord (Rom 12:1).
9. Start today
Don’t procrastinate. Choose one specific thing and begin. If you don’t know where to start, ask God and others. Take out your pen and paper and record the areas in which you’d like to change. Then choose one and begin. (Next week I’ll will provide you with additional material to help you get started.)
10. Plug into God’s power
Productivity experts say that we only have so much energy to exert self-control in any given day. They say if we make decisions ahead of time and work toward making it a habit we would fail less.
While this information will help us, we must not discount the power of God in us. His energy never runs out.
For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. (Phil 2:13)**
He’s the One who gives us the ability to say “no” (Titus 2:11-13); to choose rightly.
Get help from your Personal Trainer as you learn to develop good habits and strong will muscles!
Next time: look for some extra help in making the process of discipline more pleasurable.
*THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica. All rights reserved worldwide
**New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.