Most dads tell us they struggle with leadership, communication and discipline. I know, the struggle is real. I'm preaching to myself in this post—and maybe you find something helpful. When it comes to the process of growth and change, how do we do it? Is there an actual process for fixing a problem? I think so. Let's talk about seven (7) proven ways to grow and change.
Given most of the problems we see in our kids are because of the examples we've given them—directly or indirectly—it's worth our time to get at how we can tackle any one issue. Then, Lord willing, once we experience what works, we can begin to speak into our children so they learn to personally grow and change as well.
I've learned most on this topic from Dr. Kevin Carson (Pastor of Sonrise Baptist Church and biblical counseling professor). This post comes from part of his lecture on how to grow and change—distilled down—to get you the quickest help possible. I've done the legwork for you. Basically, you're welcome.
Let's start here: God wants you to grow and change. If you're a Christian, this should not be news. Growing and changing is what you should do best—with God's help. Thankfully, God has not left us hopeless or helpless. We have hope and we have the battle tools of Scripture, prayer, worship and fellowship with other believers.
Our goal then is this: to KNOW Jesus and make what we learn visible in our daily actions. Biblical fatherhood knows God and is constantly growing and changing.
Here are seven (7) proven ways to grow and change:
#1 Pick one problem—only one—and get to work.
That's it. You read this correctly. Pick JUST one problem to deal with. You can't typically get anywhere from trying to work on more than one problem at a time. Think Dave Ramsey's baby steps and debt here. Where would you be if you never paid of that first, smallest debt and instead you paid a small portion on each one of your bills. Whoa, scary to think about. You'd never win.
The same is true with most issues we deal with in life. If you pick correctly, there are problems you can work on that—as you're growing in that one area—you'll help yourself in other areas. For example, if one issue is your overall health and weight. You'll soon notice by taking action and losing a few pounds—it'll take better nutrition and exercise. Guess what the by-product of eating healthier and exercising is? Bam! More energy for work and family. Two birds, one stone. Sorry bird-lovers. We're in this to win this.
#2 Describe the problem in detail.
This is where you'll need to think through the various angles of the problem. Take time to ask some questions about this problem:
- How does the problem show up: behaviors, words, thoughts, attitudes, emotions?
- In what situations does the problem show up: when? where? with whom—does it appear?
- Other significant facts like duration? frequency? starting point?
- Up until now, how have you tried to deal with the problem?
#3 What are your reasons for picking this problem right now?
I keep thinking of Dave Ramsey for some reason. But who's better at taking a messy issue, bringing clarity and real action to fix it? Answer: no one! With this point, the idea is, "Are you sick and tired of being sick and tire?" Really, the question here is getting at the motivation. Why do you really want to deal with this now? Your answer will affect your outcome.
For example, trying to lose weight "so you look better" is less likely to get accomplished compared to "I've overweight and tired and I want to feel better at the end of the day and be around longer for my kids." One of these reasons will have you pick a vegetable instead of a donut when your tired and starving. Work here to get more at the heart of the concern. Physical health issues can definitely be motivators. But I've found, over the long haul, it's more about the heart than anything. The godly dad will take time to search his heart.
#4 Understand the problem biblically.
Yes, this is homework. List three passages of Scripture that deal with this problem. Then, take time to list three passages that highlight the grace available to you in this process. Finally, list three passages that speak to it's solution. This may take many forms, but the point is to move from a worldly understanding of the problem to a biblical one. You'll want these Scriptures to memorize and review when the going gets tough. Trust me.
#5 What does winning look like in this area of your life?
Here's where you should be specific as possible about your goal. What do you hope to accomplish in this endeavor? Then, consider what the baby steps will look like. You'll need moments to look back and celebrate—for motivation.
For example, if your weight is the issue you've picked, while your overall goal might be to lose 100 pounds and weigh 200 by next summer 2019. Fine. Not a bad end goal. But, between now and summer 2019, you would do well to break up the goal into, dare I say it, bitesize portions. Find the daily goal—for the reminder. Because losing 100 pounds without a understanding of how today affects that goal—you'll lose. Create a goal you can start to manage daily or weekly. Create a checkin for yourself. What are the steps along the path to winning this battle?
So, for the health goal, you might say, "I'll lose 10 pounds by month x and 20 pounds by the month after that." You get the idea. What does incremental winning look like?
#6 Find accountability.
I'm not necessarily talking about a daily check-in's here. I'm talking about some close guys who can keep your feet to the fire as you work on this issue. This is where a small group of guys can help. Make sure you're investing in a core group of friends you can call—and they can call you. Seriously consider this for any issue you're seeking to deal with. Say the struggle out loud. Don't breeze passed it. Biblical manhood seeks accountability.
#7 Keep track of how you're doing.
Keep a log or journal to track your progress. Let me give you an idea of what to include in such a journal. Log specific times when the problem surfaces or you are tempted.
Pay attention to the following questions as you journal:
- What are the features of your situation?
- What did you do, say, feel and think?
- What were your motives?
- What consequences came about?
- What bible verses shed light on the situation, define the problem, expose motives or point to solutions?
- What should you do now?
- How did you change? How are you changing?
- Are you getting better with this issue at all? Is anything you're trying working?
- Where did you get stuck? Where are you getting stuck most?
Questions worth considering:
- What does God want to change in your life?
- Where is God working?
- What are you doing about it?