Willpower; the ability to control yourself, a strong determination to get something accomplished or refrain from a particular habit or impulse.
“It is not that some people have willpower and some don’t. It’s that some people are ready to change and others are not.” –James Gordon
James Gordon understood something I just recently came to fully understand. As we move towards the center in our journey to become more and more like Jesus, we become aware of how true this is in our lives. Sometimes it takes a strong effort to leave behind the things that are slowing us down and preventing us from moving forward. Willpower is a double-edged sword; while it can catapult us to the next season, it can also hold us where we are at.
Before we talk about willpower, let me ask you a question. Have you ever followed a recipe to the dot? Including every ounce required and not deviating from the original ingredients and cooking directions? If your answer is yes, then you know that combining the right ingredients leads to perfectly made creations and tasty experiences. Combining willpower with a deep desire changes everything. And the taste of this combination is good!
1 Oz of Willpower
1 Tablespoon of Desire
1 Hard conversation with self
2 Accountability partners
If you really want to move forward, the first thing we need to do is accept the fact that you are capable changing anything in your life.
Repeat this: I am fully capable to change things in my life.
Scripture tells us that we are capable of doing “everything” through Christ who gives us strength. Philippians 4:13 tells us that we are fully able to do anything we set our mind to. Especially, when that goal brings us closer to God and closer to looking like Jesus. Like every recipe you make, it all starts with the desire to make something happen. And this is your first ingredient!
No one shows more desire to do good and be better than Paul in Scripture. In Romans 7:15-20 the notorious disciple introduces us to a thought I can find myself repeating or relating to in some sort during different seasons of my life.
15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
See how Paul talks to us? It can be confusing if you are not paying attention, so, let me summarize this for you. Initially we may think that Paul is talking about an inner fight with personal sin; this is not the case. If we study scripture, Paul, way before he introduced this verse to us, makes it clear in Romans 6: 6-7 that dying to self was a one-time event that needs no recurrence. When Jesus died for you He took care of the sin problem for you once and for all. The moment you gave your life to him, you realized what He had done for you even before you made the decision. On an article by Juli Camarin she describes what Paul intend to say best:
So in light of this, what Paul is really saying in this passage, is that if we live out of the flesh or our desires and selfishness then the influence of the old nature is right there condemning us. Paul is saying that the sin principal will take over and rule even though we are completely free from it. Paul is using this as a contrast between living in the flesh as opposed to living by the Spirit. He is saying that when we try to live by the flesh then we are set up to fail. We will struggle with sin and be defeated by it even thought Jesus meant us to be completely free of it.
Paul understood the struggle well, but even more so he knew how to put sin in its place. This is the tablespoon of desire. We must add this to the ingredients in order to have a complete transformation and ultimately control ourselves thus resulting in living a christlike life. Understanding what Jesus did for us is important and reminding our flesh of this event is even more crucial. We can all want change from where we are, but we could never do it if we don’t understand how to fight back. Knowing how to, increases our desire. This increase then grows into strength. But strength can’t do it alone! It needs your mind to be on board. And in order to get your mind on board, you need to constantly be renewing the way you think. Romans 12: 2 says:
2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Find yourself soaking into the spices and sweetness of scriptures WILL transform the way you think.
When the Devil tries you, fight back with scripture.
When your flesh tries you, fight back with scripture.
Ultimately, you will have transformed old thoughts into new ones, and old habits into new healthy ones.
Finally, you can’t do this alone.
Repeat this: I can’t do this alone!
You will need the last and most important ingredient. Accountability. If you know me, you know very well that I am a super Harry Potter fan. In the fifth film, Harry Potter speaks to “you know who” and tells him
“You’re the one who is weak. You will never know love or friendship. And I feel sorry for you.”
Harry understood the value of friendship. And he knew that if it wasn’t for Hermione and Ron he would have not been able to defeat Voldemort over and over again. Like Harry, we must understand the value of accountability and for that matter friendship. Having a team to cheer you when victories are won and to be there for you when things get hard. Ecclesiastes 4:12 says
An enemy might be able to defeat one person, but two people can stand back-to-back to defend each other. And three people are even stronger. They are like a rope that has three parts wrapped together—it is very hard to break.
Willpower is not enough. You can’t just bake a cake with a few eggs. While the cake may taste good when properly made, it is a complex mixture of ingredients that make it and hold it together. Like so, it is controlling yourself. Do yourself a favor and bake something new for your life. Change the way you think, and add a two or three friends into the mix and see how tasty living a christ like life can be.
Talk to you guys soon,