4 Steps to Help You Really Change
Sometimes I have the coolest job in the world.
I get to witness lasting transformation firsthand.
I get to play a small part in helping some people truly change. It is absolutely remarkable when it happens.
Seeing someone truly move “from darkness to light, from the power of Satan to God,” in ways lead to life, to love, and to flourishing is such a gift to witness.
Seeing people enjoy new levels of freedom, peace, and genuine happiness is really rich. Seeing them love others in ways that are more more like Jesus, as they grow in wisdom and maturity is profoundly fulfilling.
I’m very thankful God has invited me into such sacred space. I certainly don’t deserve it, and my thanksgiving overflows for the chances He’s given me to be a tiny part of His bigger story.
Sometimes though I have a really painful job.
it can be really hard to enter into loss and suffering, to need to ask questions that I know will take me places that will not be pleasant at all. Yet as I go there with Jesus it is so incredible to see that His love never fails.
If a person is willing to invite Jesus into their suffering, if they are willing to persevere in being vulnerable in the presence of genuine love, I have never seen them ultimately disappointed. As they persevere in pursuing growth and healing, as they continue to show up and be transparent, it is remarkable to see how God can help someone really change.
Why am I sharing this?
My sense is that for people who do not work in the “one on one trenches” as I do the bulk of my days, it’s easy to believe that real change is not possible. It may be tempting to think that people just talk about change, but don’t really change. To believe folks are just good performers.
Or perhaps they might believe that modest change is possible, but substantial change, lasting, live-giving change, the “could this be real kind of change?” …isn’t that just for the other side?
I don’t think so.
I’ve seen lasting change happen over and over again. I get to see it happen every week. I know it’s real.
Well, what does it take to really change?
When I think about the people that have changed the most, I think of a few things. Things you don’t need to be a Rocket Scientist for, but things that do ask something of you. You can grow in them, I promise. Here they are:
#1 They are committed to being transparent
Without being open and honest with God and a few safe others, real change is virtually impossible. The kicker is that people can know their Bibles really well and yet be very limited in terms of their self-knowledge. What we are not aware of we cannot change. While I am confident that the Holy Spirit is nudging us to see something, in my experience it often gives the Holy Spirit that much more room to work, when we let someone else who knows the Lord well into our story. I know that’s true in my case, and I’ve seen it over and over professionally. Transparency is like adding fuel to the fire of transformation.
#2 They persevere in their pursuit of transformation
Change that is lasting does not happen overnight. People that really change persevere in their pursuit of change. I think of clients who continue to show up in our work even when they are frustrated with me, or perhaps especially when they are frustrated with me. They are the most likely to grow because of the depth of their commitment to it. (And, we do talk through their frustration!) They also pursue growth diligently in terms of time in the Word, other reading, conferences, and other spiritual practices that facilitate information.
Praying for the grace to persevere as you pursue transformation is perhaps one of your most important prayers.
#3 They invite Jesus into their story, especially the parts they struggle with the most.
This undeniably takes courage. I won’t sugarcoat it. Persevering in asking Jesus to come into parts of your life that you are embarrassed of, and that you have tried unsuccessfully to change over and over again, can be excruciating. It can totally stink. We can think “I should be so much further along. Surely He is hugely disappointed with me. Surely, I am a hopeless, miserable case. Surely this pursuing change thing is pointless.”
Not so fast. Hold it right there, comrade.
Jesus somehow never gets tired of, or overwhelmed by, entering the toughest parts of our stories. I know that is true. Incredibly, He is tireless and masterful in helping us out of the worst messes. Promise. The bigger issue is continuing to invite Him in…over and over and over.
#4 They find a guide who knows people and the Lord well.
Guides do make a difference. It is undeniable.
When you find someone who knows the Lord well and understands how to help people change, it can be a real game changer. I think of different coaches and psychologists that I’ve worked with personally throughout the years, and how much of a difference their skill, wisdom and love made in my story. I am hugely grateful for the lasting difference they have made in my life.
Yet, truth be told, it can undeniably be hard to ask for help. It means admitting we actually could use some help. It means admitting that we are not totally self-sufficient and masters of the universe. How can this be! (Just having a little fun there.)
Sometimes we have to be really desperate for help. The ideal of course is to ask for help before you’re desperate!
If you don’t know a good guide, please pray for the Lord’s guidance to help you find one.
If you are loaded with pride (like all of us), pray over and over for the humility to ask for help.
If you are embarrassed about your need for help, pray for the security to take the risk.
You can enjoy greater freedom peace and happiness. I promise.
Some journeys are undeniably tougher than others. Yet if you will pursue the above basic steps, I’m very confident that your life can be much richer. Im confident that you can make a richer difference in the lives of others, as you grow and mature.
May God grant you the wisdom, security and courage to enjoy the wonder of lasting change.
Blessings to you.
P.S. If you are thirsty for some structure and guidance without putting much of your money, time or vulnerability on the line, I would be remiss if I didn’t tell my online class coming up next week on helping people flourish. It could be a good option, should you feel led that direction. Enrollment ends next Monday morning. Here’s the link: http://thrive.finishwellgroup.com/