I heard it again this morning and as always it stuns me as if I have never it before: “We only have one chance…we had better get it right.” The preacher said it more graphically and I think I heard the tolling of some bell.
A phrase that dominated my late teens and early twenties:
One life and it will soon be past
Only what is done for Christ will last.
Our discussion of The Traveler’s Gift—Seven Decisions that Determine Personal Success, is about doing life intentionally and without waste. Getting it right. But you better get at it—you have only one life.
The first decision that will determine success—no matter what is being measured—is to take responsibility for where we are. I editorially must say that the decision does not require we blame ourselves for what abusers, jerks, bullies or others did to us. I’m concerned that those who do not think and talk that through will assume it means, “Since I am…”, or “I’m short,” or “I made so many stupid decisions, I’m where I am….
I was changing clothes after a concert-seminar in a South Carolina church bathroom stall. The guy in the adjoining stall saw my clothes hanging over the divider and said, “You must really like to travel.” I told him I didn’t particularly enjoy the traveling, but it was a requirement for me to do what I really enjoy doing—singing, preaching, teaching. He responded with, “Well, God has you where He wants you….” I thought to myself, “Here, in the toilet?”
I am more comfortable saying that since I am where I am, it is my responsibility to move forward. Andy Andrews gives us these statements:
“I will not let my history control my destiny.”
“My mind will live in the solutions of the future.”
“When called upon to make a decision, I will make it.” Then, no second guessing.
“My life will not be an apology. It will be a statement.”
“Never again will I blame parents, spouse, boss or other employees for my current situation.”
“My decisions have always been governed by my thinking. Therefore…I begin the process of changing by changing the way I think.”
“Adversity is preparation for greatness. I will accept this preparation.”
“I accept responsibility for my past. I control my thoughts. I control my emotions. I am responsible for my success.”
The Traveler’s Gift, Andy Andrews, (Thomas Nelson, 2002) Pages 32-33.
Lack of empathy, negative self-talk, depression, anxiety are also products of our thinking. Listen to this psychological proverb: “As surely as sunrise follows the night; sow self-pity and you will reap depression.” Behavior is determined by thinking. If we want to change our behavior we do so by first changing our thinking.
The writers of the book INFLUENCER (McGraw-Hill 2008) say, “People choose their behaviors based on what they think will happen to them as a result.” Therefore, “if you want to change behavior, any behavior, you have to change maps of cause and effect.” (It’s important to note that people’s interpretations of events trump the facts of any situation.)
These authors say “when it comes to altering behavior, you need to help others answer only two questions:
- Is it worth it?
- Can I do it?
If you are helping someone change their behavior or attempting to influence someone to change bad behavior several things determine your influence. If the person trusts your motivation and your knowledge they will listen. Verbal persuasion, as your only tool, in most cases is not fruitful. That is true especially when you want someone to stop doing something that is personally pleasurable or satisfying to them. You seldom, if ever, can talk someone out of doing what brings them relief or pleasure, no matter how eloquent your words.
People must come to personal conviction that changing their conduct is worth it and they can do it.
The Influencer people suggest we give verbal persuasion a rest and make experience the primary objective. (“Personal experience is the mother of all cognitive map changers.”) Help them experience the world differently. Convincing them that it is worth it may start to take root by sharing your own experience—vicarious experience—and/or building an atmosphere where they can experience what it is they desire—what they hope their addictions will produce.
When Mylon Lefevre went to Church on the Way, he experienced the peace and presence of God in the dimension that had eluded him his entire life. That is the work of the Holy Spirit which we cannot photocopy. I’ve been thinking through what I know about Pastor Hayford and Church on the Way. Fundamentally, they believe God works in the way Mylon experienced Him. They also honor God, give Him opportunity to work and they prepare themselves to be His conduit through prayer, praise and preaching the Word. Mylon had performed and worshipped in many churches and walked away empty while other people in the building were experiencing God in the very dimension he craved. So, part of our preparation is to pray for receptive hearts and minds. “God, prepare this specific person. What do I need to spiritually bind that will give the space and freedom for my friend to make a conscious decision?” (There is more to be said about that.)
If we want people to change their thinking, tell them the whole story. “…when you leave out the solution, people typically block out the message.” (Influencer, page 67)
Subtle Seldom Succeeds.
Changing your behavior is worth it. You must decide that. Let me introduce you to people who have changed and let them tell you how they did it.
- Can you do it? Not without effort. You are the only one who can do what needs to happen in your thoughts and emotions and perseverance. One of my former friends (we’re not as close as we used to be) has been in the newspaper crime list at least once a week for a month. He has been practicing his way of life for nearly 40 years. I went to court with him once. Every cop, lawyer, judge and janitor greeted him by name. Can he do it?
- Here is the “solution.” Here are some strategies. You can’t do it alone. It is a tough fact: it is up to you. You do not have a second life riding around in the trunk of your Jeep.
“You are what you are today because of the quality of your thoughts, the perspectives you have about life, and your beliefs about yourself and others. Do you truly desire a significant change in your life? Change your thinking.” (Andy Andrews)
D. Dean Benton