December 2, 2013
Willingness and openness to change are two of the most profound attributes to bring about a commitment and the follow-through to see things drastically change. After the doors of the prison were opened and the chains fell off the prisoners, the Philippian jailer asked Paul and Silas – “What must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30). His honest and vulnerable spirit of inquiry led to an eternal decision which impacted not only his vocation but his entire family forever! On another occasion, Jesus approached a very ill and lame man and asked him the question, “Do you want to be healed?” This was not a ridiculous question with an obvious answer! The man truly had to have the heartfelt desire to be different than he was, or there would not be real and lasting change.
I have known many people who speak in sincerity – “Oh, I want to grow and be the best I can be.” Or they say, “I commit myself to continuous improvement and lifelong learning.” But their actions deny their verbal declarations! Do you remember Naaman the leper from Aram in the book of II Kings? He went to Elisha in Israel to get the cure for his leprosy – he was willing to travel and “do anything” to be healed, but when he was simply told to wash himself in the Jordan, he almost missed God’s miracle because of his unwillingness to follow through. It took his servant going to him and reasoning with him to be humble and willing to do it for the sake of a life-changing cleansing (see II Kings 5).
Counselors say when working with clients you must always attempt to discover the ‘payoff’ for their illness. In other words, there is some reason people choose to stay in their rut or present position however unhealthy rather than change and improve. Too many people will say they want to change and get better, but very few will ever make the difficult and necessary changes to achieve what they say they desire. When I have taught freshman theology, I found that students love to write statements about “being a good testimony,” or “being used by God,” but struggle with identifying actual steps they can take to allow God to further conform them into the image of His Son—although they hear over and over that they will only be formed and used by God as much as they willingly allow Him to work in their lives.
Leadership formation books state that most leadership development training brings results for ten percent or less of those who go through such training. The most common response of those leaders who changed was, “I just decided to do it. I just got sick and tired of the old me. I finally decided to just get on with it!” Doesn’t that sound like what you did when you decided to learn a skill, or lose weight, or run a long distance race? It is exactly what I have done!
Let’s start with our hearts and examine our willingness to be all that God desires us to be. Let’s ask God to put us through the “desire of our hearts scan.” His desire is your best. The success of His work on your life and mine is our willingness and openness to that work. When I remain this way, it is my heart and will — not His lack of power to change me.
Begin a habit today based on your desires to be all that God wants you to be. Start now while you’re busy and you will succeed! Get up and read and pray. Walk or run a mile. Talk to a family member about a relationship. Whatever it is God leads you to do—don’t give lip service any longer – be willing with God’s strength to do it!