Talking about change and willing to change can be two different matters. If you have not prepped your soul for change, you won’t change. You may modify your behavior. You may be able to do damage control with your relationships, but transformation is a gift that God gives to hearts who want it.
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You may want to read:
- The Doctrine of Repentance
- How to Help a Person Get Right With God
- A Few Thoughts on an Unchangeable Situation
Biff is struggling with getting his life on track. His friend is trying to figure out if he is serious about receiving help. Not every person who asks for help is serious about change. It is a common problem with people who are struggling.
Bud is unsure if Biff is shooting straight with him, so he sends me an email asking for advice on how to proceed. I suggested to Bud that he look more closely into Biff’s life before he charts a course to help him.
One of the ways that Bud can do this is by assessing a few prerequisite qualities that should be part of any person who says he wants to change. The things that we do (our behaviors) flow out of who we are (Proverbs 4:23; Luke 6:45).
Before Bud starts discipling Biff about his problems, he must learn more about Biff’s internal motivation for help. These questions will help Bud assess Biff’s seriousness. These queries focus less on the “presenting problems” and more on Biff’s thoughts, intentions, and motives.
Are You Ready to Change?
- Humility – Is Biff a humble person? How do you know? What are some signs that show his humility?
- Character – How would you characterize Biff? Use the fruit of the Spirit as your template to assess him?
- Servant – How does he serve others, especially his wife? You are looking for ways he is imitating Jesus on a daily basis?
- Repentance – Does he repent regularly? Part of his repentance is the quickness in which he confesses his sins.
- Gratitude – How would you describe his appreciation for the death of Christ for him? Is he a grateful Christian?
These questions will give Bud insight into Biff’s spiritual maturity. Bud is not looking for perfection regarding the things listed, but the presence of Christlike qualities should be evident in Biff’s life.
I’m not suggesting that Bud should not try to help Biff if he does not possess the biblical qualities, but he needs to know that if Biff is not trying to mature in Christ, Bud will not be able to help him. God resists the proud, and if any person is not doing these basic things, he will experience God’s resistance, and attempting to transform will be futile.
If Bud tries to change the behavioral issues in Biff’s life, he may “turn over a new leaf,” and get short-term change, but there will not be long-term transformation because God will be against Biff’s efforts.
As Bud continues to assess his friend, here are a few more questions that will help him know if Biff is cooperating with God.
- Engagement – Does Biff engage his local church community? What does that look like on a weekly basis?
- Passion – Does he talk about what he is gleaning from the Bible? What does he say when he shares what God is doing in his life?
- Prayer – How is his prayer life? What does he say to the Lord? Who all is he asking God to help?
- Exporting – Who is he discipling and caring for in his church? What do his soul care initiatives look like practically?
- Modeling – How has his friends, wife, and children been affected by him? Is his influence positive or negative on others?
Some people think disciplers can work magic. Other individuals want folks to change more than the “problem person” wants to change. These folks believe that if they can get the struggler before the counselor, change will happen.
It probably won’t. Counselors, disciplers, and friends can only water and plant. God is the one that provides the growth. And if the individual who needs to change does not want to change, it won’t happen. James is clear,
God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. – James 4:6-8
Call to Action
- Do you want someone to change more than they want to change?
- What does it mean when Paul talks about watering and planting versus providing the growth in 1 Corinthians 3:6?
- If a person is proud, why can’t they change?
- As you think about these ten qualities, what is the evidence of them in your life? Is your soul prepped and ready for God to bring change into your life?
- If you want to change or are trying to help someone change, I recommend you read the three articles linked above, as well as get my book, Change Me – The Ultimate Life-Change Handbook.
Also published on Medium.