Change Doesn't Appear to Work at First
Tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope. (Rom 5:3-4)
Maybe you aren’t like me (Chris) – maybe you are patient and don’t expect immediate results. Maybe you trust that God is working below the surface before you notice any outward change. Maybe you already know how change works. But for the rest of us, it is easy to try something new, not notice any results in a week or two, and give up. Perhaps that is why God talks about perseverance so often in His word – He knows how likely we are to get impatient or discouraged.
James 1:2-4 says, “Consider it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you encounter various trials, knowing that testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” Anyone reading this devotional is interested, at least on some level, in changing some of their approach to their screen. Perhaps it helps to reflect on some even deeper changes God might be working on. As much as God cares about our ability to limit the screen and connect with Him and others, He is also working on character growth in our lives. What if character growth is the true victory He is urging us towards? To experience this, we need to develop perseverance. Perseverance is developed as we keep doing the same thing over and over, and that is exactly what needs to happen to develop a new habit. A primary reason new habits fail is that we give up too soon. In Atomic Habits, James Clear talks about how tempting it is to give up:
“[I]t’s frustrating how ineffective changes can seem during the first days, weeks, and even months. It doesn’t feel like you are going anywhere…This is one of the core reasons why it is so hard to build habits that last. People make a few small changes, fail to see a tangible result, and decide to stop. You think, “I’ve been running every day for a month, so why can’t I see any change in my body?” Once this kind of thinking takes over, it’s easy to let good habits fall by the wayside.”
Practically speaking, tracking new habits can be helpful. A simple, visible paper checklist can help you feel like you’re getting somewhere even before you notice changes in your behavior. Also, review your goals. Even if you don’t meet your goals at the end of this, you will still see some progress which you can then build on.
Hopefully it is encouraging to learn that it takes a certain amount of time for new habits to develop. Sticking with your steps will develop new habits and will develop the character quality of perseverance. That’s a pretty good deal!
- How would you like to track your new habits – an app? A piece of paper? Try something, see if it works – you may need to try a few methods before landing on the one that works for you.
- Ask God to give you a vision for developing perseverance as a character trait.