Encouragement and FaithRelationships and Faith

If we counselors had a dollar for every person who came for counseling but didn’t take our advice, we’d all be rich. Too often people want to overcome some problem or improve some weakness, but they don’t want to take the time or pay price for permanent change. We all want a quick, effortless solution.

This week I had lunch and met for one hour with sixteen people who are highly committed to experience permanent change in their faith. Each has a goal to develop a more effective faith and a more intimate relationship with God and those they love.

I believe these people ARE going to reach their goal. Know why? Because they are doing what it takes. They’re sacrificing the necessary time, and paying the high price of personal accountability.

In my experience, the biggest obstacle to permanent change is resistance to accountability. It’s true for a nation, a community, a family, or a person. Without individual and community accountability, there will be no real, godly, lasting change. Without accountability, addicts don’t quit, bad habits get worse, and improvements are short lived.
But in every dimension of life, people who open themselves to accountability see amazing physical, moral, and spiritual changes. Just look at what these people I’m meeting with are doing and you’ll see why I’m once again predicting significant and permanent faith-changes.

Every week for six months each of them is working through a clearly-outlined strategic plan with practical exercises. The plan is biblically based and structured to help them get back to the original, god-designed people we were created to be. The five steps and daily routines are built on the life-style of Jesus and his approach to bringing about personal and community transformation.

Each person who joins the twenty-six-week plan makes a commitment to carry out these activities under the watch-care of an accountability partner.

• STUDY. They read one chapter in my book Healthy Faith: A Strategic Lifestyle Plan to Transform Your Head, Heart, and Hands. They study related scriptures, answer questions, and take notes.

• EXERCISES. During that week, they perform several faith-building exercises listed at the end of each chapter. Some exercises are done privately, others in their homes and communities.

• 2 BY 2. During the week, each person meets for an hour with his or her accountability-partner. They agree to discuss the chapter, encourage each other, and hold each other accountable.

• TEAM. Each week all sixteen members meet for one hour to share what they experienced in reading, discussing, and carrying out the exercises.

• LEADERS. Each person begins the plan with the intention of finding another person to begin the healthy faith plan. They will become the team leader and continue to grow by leading.

Inevitably, people who go through this plan agree, change is not hard. It’s easy and can happen in a moment. But permanent change doesn’t work that way. It’s demanding, dynamic, never ending, always growing, struggling, facing both stormy and sunny days.

This group of sixteen people are all wonderful, smart folks. But being wonderful and smart will not make them successful in developing a healthier faith. I’m certain they’ll be successful because they are accountable and they are involving every part of themselves—their heads, their hearts, and their hands.

With this kind of commitment, I believe God will honor their desires to be close to him and develop a faith that works.