Tom Landry, the legendary football coach, once made a brilliant assessment of his job, “The job of a football coach is to make men do what they don’t want to do, in order to achieve what they’ve always wanted to be.”
Thinking about this statement for about 3 seconds should cause us to realize this motto is not just for football, but most things in life. Why aren’t we fit, better eaters, with perfect posture? Why aren’t we free from our own anger, jealousy, lust, and gossip? Why don’t we break our bad, and sometimes addicting, habits? The answer is simple. Because it’s hard!
Life is a constant battle. On one side is the “Doing What’s Easy” army. On the other is the “Becoming What We Want To Be” militia. The winning factor in this battle is self-motivation. This is why coaches, personal trainers, and other similar professionals are so successful. They hold the ability to help people do what they don’t want to. They limit the options, push boundaries, and cause people to become what they want to be.
We are approaching a time that’s popular for making self-improvements. As we start thinking about who we are and who we want to be (especially spiritually), here are some tips on how to make ourselves do what we don’t want to do (Warning: it won’t be easy, or fun, or fast, or really anything else that you might consider otherwise enjoyable…at first).
- Take An Honest Look. Are we really the person we want to be right now? Are we in the physical shape we want to be? Are we struggling with bad habits? Has sin been crouching at the door of our lives (Genesis 4:7)? Have we given into unrighteousness? What does an unfiltered, unbiased, honest look in the spiritual mirror reveal about us (James 1:22-25)? Think about what the future will hold if things aren’t changed.
- Restrict Options. Most people have trouble doing this by ourselves. If we didn’t have trouble keeping ourselves motivated, we would probably already be who we want to be. Since we struggle with self-control, we need to find someone to take away options and keep us accountable. Find a workout buddy. Go see a psychologist. Talk with an elder or the preacher . Get a friend that will help keep you accountable. One of the best ways to improve ourselves is to bring in someone to help (Proverbs 27:17).
- Give Yourself A Chance To Win. Get some rest. Plan ahead with meals. Know when we are at our weakest. Don’t put too much on your plate at once. Stop wasting so much time in front of a screen. Pick up some self-help books (best one I know of is called the Bible). Spend extra time talking with the Lord and telling Him about your faults and asking Him for help (1 Thessalonians 5:17). As said before, get a close friend to help. Whatever we need to help us win, do it.
- Keep The Eye On The Prize. The path to heaven is known as a narrow, winding, and difficult path that few find (Matthew 7:13-14). It’s ironic that most of the worst things in life are easy and the best things are hard. We need to keep reminding ourselves what we are trying to achieve and why. When that purpose get’s lost, so does our motivation, and our helpful actions are soon to follow. Keep the goal in sight, particularly the spiritual goal (Hebrews 12:1-2).
If we picture our ideal self, what does that look like? How are we going to get there? If we only have enough self-motivation to fix one category this next year, let’s make sure it’s the spiritual one. As Paul pointed out, “For bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:8). Sure, becoming fit, healthy, and breaking bad habits are valuable, but unless they have reached sinful levels, their benefits only impact this life. Spiritual improvements are guaranteed to have an eternal impact.
If you want to become who you want to be, then do what you don’t want to do.