Five Tips For Accomplishing Change

changeInsanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. This is a well-known statement and one that couldn’t be closer to the truth. How often do we hope for something different but aren’t willing to DO differently? This is insanity! I have changed so much over the last five or six years and want to share some tips on what helped make it possible.

Tip One: Be aware of what needs to change: This might seem obvious, but if you aren’t willing to look at yourself and determine what changes you need to make you will likely miss it. If you think there is nothing at all about yourself or your behavior that needs to change then you probably don’t have very good self-awareness. (My blog on self-awareness might be a good place to start). Becoming more aware of self (my behaviors, feelings, and thinking processes, and how this affects those around me) has helped me to discover things in my life and my personality that need changing. This is only the first step. Being aware of what needs to change doesn’t mean it will automatically happen; you have to be willing to put in the effort.

Tip Two: Surround yourself with people you want to imitate: Maybe you want to be more thoughtful of others but this doesn’t quite come naturally to you. Find someone who is thoughtful and spend some time with him. Learn from his behavior and model it. Perhaps you struggle with being too negative. Do you think anything will change if you are surrounded by negative people? Their negativity will only fuel your own, which is why surrounding yourself with positive people will help you see things in a more positive light.

Tip Three: Discover God’s purpose for your life: This is highly debated, as many people believe God doesn’t really have a purpose planned out for each individual. As for me, I believe that He does, and that He wants you to discover what that purpose is. When I first met my husband I had quit college and felt that it just wasn’t for me. I had no idea what God wanted from my life. After being encouraged by my husband, I began praying and asking God what His purpose was for me. I took some aptitude tests to gain a better understanding of myself and what I might be good at. This is when I discovered the option of becoming a counselor. I was immediately drawn to this idea and began praying about whether or not this was from God. After determining that this was in fact what God had planned for me I began the journey toward becoming a counselor. This required a LOT of change but with God’s strength He has enabled me to accomplish my goal. I personally feel that serving God and being a wife and mother is my greatest purpose, but after that, counseling hurting people towards hope and healing is what I was made to do. Remember, when you discover God’s purpose for your life you can expect that it will require a lot of change and dependence on God to accomplish.

Tip Four: Be willing to face some fears: This is a scary tip! One that I know all too well. If you aren’t willing to face your fears you probably wont experience much change in your life. I used to be a socially awkward anxious individual who would rather sit inside than have to talk to someone I didn’t know. I HATED this about myself! For a long time I was too afraid to do anything about it and I suffered for it. I finally had had enough. I remember when my boss asked me if I wanted to do a sales training on a new tool my team had developed. This was the last thing in this world I wanted to do, but I knew it would only help me overcome my fears. It was awful, but I did it. Each time I took on a challenge like this it got easier and easier, until before long, it really wasn’t that scary anymore! It took some time (Like 5 years!) for me to go from being the anxious, socially awkward girl to the confident and friendly girl who could comfortably talk to new people and make some friends, but I eventually got there and I did it by facing my fears.

Tip Five: Be open and accountable with someone you trust: Having accountability is huge when it comes to making changes. We as human beings are weak and incapable of standing alone. If you have secret struggles that you know you need to change sharing this with someone you trust can make all the difference! In the same way, when you create goals it is so much easier to accomplish them when you share them with someone who cares about you. Someone who will follow up and hold you accountable. My husband and I are so open with each other about flaws we need to change. Because we know exactly what the other needs to improve on its easy to see it and call it out. This can be extremely irritating!! But also extremely helpful. I cannot tell you how many times I wanted to bail on some social gathering because of fear. My husband could see the anxiety and terror on my face and sympathized, but he also knew that I wanted to change and that I wasn’t happy with how I was. Because of this he pushed me to face my fears and helped me to make the changes I needed to make. I never could have done it alone and neither can you. Maybe you don’t have a spouse you can depend on for accountability, if not find a friend or a mentor who you can trust to encourage you towards change.

These are just five tips that have personally helped me accomplish change in my life. What are some tips for change that you can share?

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Four Things That Set Daniel Apart

bibleEvery time I read about Daniel I am amazed by his love for and faithfulness to God. Even in the midst of impossible circumstances Daniel remained faithful. So what was it about Daniel that truly set him apart? Why did it seem so easy for him to stay true to God when everyone else waivered and gave in?

Below are four things that I believe were true about Daniel that set him apart:

He wasn’t willing to defile himself: I really love this truth about Daniel because I believe it is essential to his biblical example. Daniel had one main goal, to honor God in all he did. One definition of defile I found is to make foul, dirty, or unclean; Those are some pretty powerful and descriptive words. Isn’t this what we do to ourselves when we allow even the smallest sins to corrupt us? Scripture says that Daniel purposed in his heart not to defile himself (Daniel 1:8).

I’m not saying this means that Daniel never sinned, but he purposed (meaning he had the intention or objective) in his heart to do all he could not to defile himself. It’s an intentional and daily choice we have to make, one that Daniel made and one that set him apart as a man of god. As you purpose this in your heart you will find that you will become more aware of your sin and will no longer turn a blind eye to it. It is the overlooked sin that Satan uses to gain a foothold in the lives of Christians.

 He was willing to sacrifice: This truth about Daniel is probably the most difficult to swallow. This is especially true in a generation that is self-absorbed and obsessed with pleasure. For Christians it can be easy to blend in rather than sacrifice and be set apart for Christ. Daniel was taken from his own land into Babylon. He was chosen by the king, along with other young men, to eat the kings delicacies and receive three years of training in order to become capable of serving in the kingdom. Daniel did not want to defile himself with the king’s delicacies so he requested to be given water and beans.

Now for someone who absolutely loves to eat good food, that’s me by the way, this seems like a huge sacrifice! Daniel chose sacrifice over pleasure in order to honor God. (He also went as far as sacrificing his own life to honor God! We will touch on this later.) How often are we faced with this choice and choose wrong? After ten days Daniel and his friends looked better than all the other young men who ate the kings food and drank his wine. Because of this Daniel and every other young man ate beans and drank water for the remainder of the three years! Now that is sacrifice. Are we willing to sacrifice, like Daniel did, to be set apart for God?

 He wasn’t concerned with what others thought of him. Try to picture this. A group of young men are being fed probably the most delicious food and enjoying delicious wine daily. Then some guy comes along and messes it all up. This yummy food and wine turns into water and beans. Do you think everybody was thrilled with Daniel at this point? I would guess not. But guess what? Daniel couldn’t care less what others thought of him! He was concerned with what God thought of him and that was it. Think about the peace of mind he must have had. This is something I truly hope to achieve in my lifetime. Are we willing to be everyone else’s enemy in order to please our God? Daniel certainly was and his life was a reflection of this.

His faithfulness to God was unshakable and was evident to others. Fast-forward a lot of years to a story almost everyone knows about. Daniel and the lion’s den. Because Daniel was filled with God’s spirit and was highly respected he was placed in leadership in the kingdom. The other leaders were angry and wanted to destroy him. Daniel 6:4 says, “So the governors and satraps sought to find some charge against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find no charge or fault, because he was faithful; nor was there any error or fault found in him.” This is such a convicting verse. It really causes me to question my own faithfulness. I know for a fact if someone looked hard enough they could find fault in me. But Daniel’s faithfulness was unshakable.

The only way to catch Daniel was concerning his God. A law was created that anybody who prayed to any god or man aside from the king for thirty days would be thrown into a den of lions. Daniel’s faithfulness was so evident to others that they knew without a doubt that this would work! How amazing is that? Is my faithfulness to God evident to those around me? That even in the face of death I wouldn’t waiver? These are questions I so want to answer yes to! Do you? Well as you can guess and probably know, Daniel remained faithful. He prayed to his God and was throw into the den. But God delivered Daniel and spared his life.

One thing I have learned from studying Daniel is that I want these four truths to be true about me. With God’s strength and daily intentional living I know that they can be, just as they can be true for you. The only thing standing in my way, and in yours, is how strong my desire is to be set apart from this world, as Daniel was, living a life that brings honor and glory to God.

Living out the Fear of the Lord

fearoflordSomething that has been on my mind a lot lately is how to go about making wise decisions that are based on God’s will. How do I obtain wisdom? A verse that came to my mind while thinking about this was proverbs 9:10, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (NKJV) So if the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom then I probably can’t expect to have wisdom without it. Before I start asking for wisdom I need to make sure I actively fear the Lord, as this is, after all, the beginning of wisdom.

So what is the Fear of the Lord?

I used to think that fearing God meant that I should be scared of Him. This never seemed right to me. Then one day when I was reading proverbs I came across a verse and it all made sense to me. That verse was Proverbs 8:13 and it says “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverse mouth I hate.” I had never read this verse before and I had never seen or heard the fear of the Lord so perfectly defined. I had a clear answer. The fear of the Lord is to hate evil. It’s as simple as that. Well not quite…

Hating evil isn’t simply some feeling we have toward sinful things it is an action. In the Bible Job is referred to as a blameless and upright man who fears God and shuns evil (Job 2:3) Job actively feared the Lord by shunning evil. The definition of shun is to “persistently avoid, ignore, or reject (someone or something) through hatred or caution.” This paints a better picture of what it really looks like to hate evil. Hating evil and “shunning” it as Job did takes persistence, rejection, and caution. The Bible says that a prudent man foresees evil and hides himself (Proverbs 22:3). Interestingly enough, prudent is simply another word for wise. You can’t just say that you hate evil; it has to be reflected in your life through your daily actions. It is a constant battle that requires diligence and caution.

Don’t be fooled. Hating evil doesn’t mean that you never sin. What it means is that when you do sin, it breaks your heart and causes a deep sense of regret. Paul talked about this very thing in Romans 7. He talks about the fact that although he desires to do good and please God, evil is warring in him. Paul refers to himself as a wretched man.

Think about the following synonyms of the word wretched: worthless, shameful, vile, and inadequate. That’s pretty intense! I have to ask myself, when I sin and allow evil to control me do I absolutely hate it? Do I think of myself as a shameful, worthless, and vile person like Paul did when he sinned? Honestly, If I don’t I have to question whether or not I truly hate evil and fear the Lord. If this is the case, I can’t expect to walk in the wisdom of the Lord. (Keep in mind, its not about condemning yourself, its about painfully regretting sinning against God. Thankfully He is a God of grace who offers us forgiveness and mercy when we do screw up.)

Proverbs 3: 7 makes this clear saying, “Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and depart from evil.” If I take God’s Word literally, and I do, then this confirms that without the fear of the Lord I will be wise in my own eyes. This honestly scares me to death. Am I willing to hate and turn away from evil so that I can live a life that pleases God, that is guided and directed by His wisdom rather than my own? If so, I need to take an honest look at myself and determine whether or not I truly hate evil, whether or not my heart breaks when I sin against God, and whether or not I actively seek to hide myself from sin.

One important thing to remember is that we are often unaware of our own secret sin. We not only have to hate the obvious evil, but the intimate and secret evil we hold onto tightly. This is why self-awareness is, in my opinion, one of the most important skills to obtain, and will be the focus of my next blog.

Thanks for reading, please share your thoughts below!