You know things aren’t yet the way they should be. Perhaps you’re frustrated and discouraged. You’ve prayed, and things don’t seem to change. You’ve “tried harder,” but your efforts seem to be falling flat. It would help to know what you’re missing. What necessary steps toward transformation should you be focusing on?
I remember feeling so stuck and hopeless. In my head I knew God had the answer, but nothing was changing. But I didn’t stay there. As I’ve reflected on the truly amazing transformation journey I experienced, and what God’s word as well as scientific research shows about the process of change, the roadmap to transformation has become so much clearer.
I’ve experienced these five steps toward transformation over and over again. I know I wouldn’t have experienced transformation without them. And I believe these will be the necessary steps to your transformation as well.
Desire to Change
Years ago a friend told me, “When the desire to change becomes greater than the pain of changing, you’ll change.”
Although other things are also needed, that statement is true. When you’re sick and tired enough of where you are, you will find the internal energy to do whatever it takes to get somewhere else. You’ll cut up the credit cards and live on beans and rice (Dave Ramsey, anyone?). You’ll spend the money to get therapy even if it means going without other necessary things. Embarrassment, anxiety, or shame, though real and extremely painful, won’t be enough to stop you.
Change is hard. It’s uncomfortable. Change doesn’t come by simply “trying harder!” But it does require your 100% involvement. A study of those who had experienced lasting change as a result of therapy showed that a willingness to experience some anxiety along the way was a necessary ingredient in the change process. You get to the place where you don’t care how hard it is; you do it anyway.
“What got you here won’t get you there.” You’ve probably heard before that doing the same thing and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. And simply looking around in your stressed-out brain for different solutions hasn’t been working out very well for you.
Enter truth. A “light-bulb” moment can change everything. That certainly begins by coming to know the truth about God – who He really is, how He works, His love for you, His power, His plan for you. Scripture is huge here, of course.
Truth also includes the truth about you – looking at your story, both what happened to you and how you responded (perhaps sinfully).
And it also includes truth about what’s possible. If you don’t believe anything different is possible you won’t be able to sustain the effort required to work with God for your ongoing transformation. Teaching from those who have gone before, and stories from those who have experienced their own transformation, are invaluable here.
Connection with Others
God designed you and me to grow and thrive in community. Isolation has been one of the biggest tools of the enemy to successfully run his campaign of stealing, killing, and destroying. Many are feeling this especially acutely right now in light of the recent “social distancing” mandated in dealing with COVID-19.
Married people sometimes fall into the trap of believing they only need connection with their spouse. Although a healthy marriage is one of God’s good gifts, that in itself is not enough for anyone! No single human being can provide all the “people fuel” you need to experience transformation.
You need at least three kinds of people – those in front of you to learn from, those beside you to support and challenge you, and those behind you to give of yourself to. Who you hang out with makes a difference. You tend to become more like the people you spend the most time with.
Oh how we would often like our transformation to be a moment of “beam me up, Scotty.” One prayer, one laying-on-of-hands, one special service, one experience with God. Those moments are priceless; they happen! Treasure them. Look for them. But that’s not the core of what God designed your transformation to be about.
God is not usually about changing something as if by magic from on high; He’s about transforming you from the inside out. That takes time. It’s a process. Failing to recognize this can lead to a desperate search for the one preacher or service or program that will “fix” everything. And the result is a lot of disappointment and discouragement.
We usually struggle against the process. We don’t like to wait! But it takes time for a tree, an organization, or a person to grow. It’s not time alone, but what you do during that time that is important. But just as one pushup won’t give you strong arms, it’s investing with God in the process over time that results in lasting transformation.
God’s Holy Spirit
All the above ingredients on their own won’t result in a person that becomes like Jesus. And that is God’s purpose for you, after all. (See Romans 8:29) I’ve listed this last not because it’s the least important, but because it’s the most important ingredient in your transformation journey.
Regularly through your Christian life the Holy Spirit will put His finger on something in your heart, pull it up into the light, and say, “This right here; it needs to change.”
Your job when He does that is to say Yes.
That’s what Paul is talking about in one of my favorite Scriptures: “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:12-13) God works. We work. It’s you and God working together.
Your effort does not earn transformation, but it is required. I sometimes see people praying desperately for God to change them, but it stops there. This is where this two-part prayer becomes so powerful.
- Jesus, come! Holy Spirit, come! I need You! I can’t do this on my own!
- Jesus, what step do You need me to take next? I’m saying Yes!
As you look at these five steps to transformation, which one or ones are you taking full advantage of? And which one or ones do you need to intentionally invest in now?
Be encouraged. You can be “sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)
Your Turn: What ingredient do you believe you most need today to help you move forward in your transformation journey? Leave a comment below.
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- Are you “trying harder” and not getting anywhere? Your transformation journey is not a mystery, and it’s not magic. There are predictable and necessary steps toward transformation that God has designed, and that you can take advantage of. Tweet that.
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