Five factors are necessary for long-lasting change.
• accept that we have a problem;
• want to solve the problem;
• identify a solution that works;
• implement this solution–do the work; and
• perform the necessary maintenance.
All of these factors must be in place before any long-lasting change will occur in anyone. For our self, we must honestly assess the problem and acknowledge the full repercussions it is causing in our life; then we must develop a sincere desire to change. This acceptance and “want to” are great starting points but accomplish little or nothing unless followed with proper action. We must find a solution that has been proven to solve this specific problem and do the work necessary to make that solution active in our life. And there is always maintenance; the old habits and things that caused the original problem are deeply rooted and do not simply disappear; we only acquire the new and more desirable traits with conscious, persistent practice.
These five factors also clarify why we cannot make another person change. When facing a true problem, the person with the problem must accept the reality of the problem and develop a genuine desire for change. If we recognize a problem affecting the life of a person we love, we examine our motives to see if it is really any of our business; if so, we try to objectively explain the situation and the facts as we see them but always realize that each person must find his or her own acceptance of the problem and the desire to find a solution. We cannot do it for them.
Prayer: Dear God, help me to clearly see what I must change so that I can live the life you want for me. Grant me the strength and guidance to make these changes.
Change Requires Making Choices
It’s not enough to want to change. It’s not enough to desire to change. It’s not even enough to say, “I have a dream of changing.” Dreams are worthless unless you wake up and actually act on them. You’re not going to change the defects in your life until you choose to change.
How are you going to be different in six months? Are you going to be emotionally stronger? Are you going to be mentally sharper? Are you going to be physically healthier? Are you going to be spiritually deeper?
It isn’t going to happen automatically. You aren’t just going to get healthier by accident in any category of your life. A lot of times we think we’re waiting on God to change us. You’re not waiting on God. God is waiting on you.
There is no growth in your life without change. And there is no change without loss. You’ve got to let go of some old stuff. And there is no loss without pain.
Some of you are stuck right now because you haven’t learned how to let go. That’s a choice. (Ephesians 4:22)
You might say that your defects are biological or sociological. Some of them are from your circumstances or your chromosomes. But it doesn’t really matter where they come from. You need to deal with it. Genetics explains your inclinations, but it doesn’t excuse your sin.
Here’s the good news: Once you become a believer, you have a new power in you that is greater than those old tendencies. That power is the Holy Spirit.
Does that mean you are supposed to be afraid of God? Of course not! Be afraid that you’ll miss God’s best and waste your life. Be afraid that you will go your entire life and never know God’s purpose.
The secret to changing your life is not willpower. It’s God giving you the will and the power through the Holy Spirit to do what needs to be done.
This devotional © 2014 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
A New Pattern Of Living
“We suspect that if we do not use what we have, we will lose what we have.”
Basic Text p. 75
Addiction gave a pattern to our lives, and with it a meaning – a dark, diseased meaning, to be sure, but a meaning nonetheless. The program gives us a new pattern of living to replace our old routines. And with that new pattern comes a new meaning to our lives, one of light and hope.
What is this new pattern of living? Instead of isolation, we find fellowship. Instead of living blindly, repeating the same mistakes again and again, we regularly examine ourselves, free to keep what helps us grow and discard what doesn’t. Rather than constantly trying to get by on our own limited power, we develop a conscious contact with a loving Power greater than ourselves.
Our life must have a pattern. To maintain our recovery, we must maintain the new patterns our program has taught us. By giving regular attention to these patterns, we will maintain the freedom we’ve found from the deadly disease of addiction, and keep hold of the meaning recovery has brought to our lives.
Just for today: I will begin a new pattern in my life: the regular maintenance of my recovery.