They say you can tell a lot about someone by looking at the first section they go to whenever they visit a bookstore. The techie goes for the computer section. The romantic adventurer goes for the fictional romance section. For me, I tend to go straight toward the self-help or self-improvement section. What does that tell about me? There is a lot I want to change or improve. I have books on how to become a better dad, how to better manage my time, how to get freedom from people-pleasing, how to become a better leader, and on & on the list goes. Whenever I read one of these books, I approach it hoping that the following process will take place:
- Read the book.
- Discover a key, usually in the form of a principle, to change.
- Begin trying really hard to live this new principle.
- Keep repeating step 3 until voila!… a changed, new and improved me.
If only it were that simple. I think this is the same process for change we often use with other methods. Just change step one from “Read a book” to “Go to a counseling session” or “Listen to a sermon” or “Read a blog”. Are all these methods to change good? Yes. I make a living doing one of them. Does the four step process sometimes bring change? Sure. However, if this process and these methods are all that we are banking on for change, I think we are going to be disappointed a lot of the time. There is another step involved that brings much deeper, longer lasting change. I think it is the most important step. It is to humble yourself before Jesus, confess your weakness, sin, immaturity, or whatever it is you want to change and ask him to help you change.
The writer of Hebrews describes someone in need of change coming before Jesus where they can “receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb 4:15-16). Self-improvement where I try really hard to muscle my way through to change? Sure, it might work. But there is a better way. Come to Jesus, humbly confess your weakness to him, and invite his grace-filled power to come and help you change.