Eat your veggies. Drink 64oz of water a day. Get 8 hours of sleep a night. Stop drinking so much coffee…When it comes to living your best and healthiest life, the to do and to don’t lists are relatively simple. Of course I want to live a long, healthy, vibrant life—and the way to accomplish that is spelled out pretty clearly. But if you’re anything like me, sometimes it’s the simplest things I have the hardest time keeping up with.
That’s just as true in my spiritual life. I love Jesus and I want to be shaped into a person whose thoughts, beliefs, and actions look more and more like him. On paper, it’s simple. In everyday life, though, it can feel impossible.
Paul, a writer of the New Testament, was an evangelist, a church planter, and one of the greatest theologians in history who literally heard the voice of Christ in his conversion experience. If it should’ve been easy for anyone it would have been him, but even he can relate to this very human experience.
In Romans 7 he writes this:
“For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it… For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.”
-Romans 7:18-20, 23
It’s common to feel like our beliefs and our actions are living on different planets, even in our life of faith. We say we love Jesus (heart/spirit), believe in his word (thought), and yet we keep on falling in to the same old sins and bad habits (actions). Rinse and repeat. We start to question ourselves to try to find the root cause. Do I not believe enough? Do I not love enough? Am I just bad? Even Paul says a few verses later: “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?”
How do we begin to integrate these experiences, so that our feelings, beliefs, and actions aren’t running in different directions, but are all running towards the same end point?
Well, in addition to my ministry as a pastor I am also a certified leadership coach, focused in the areas of work and wellness. I’ve found the framework that I use as a coach to be super helpful in moving the experiences I’m having in my mind and spirit into the world of real action—my daily life.
The coaching framework that I use is called Be. Do. Have.
Who you are determines what you do which is what results in the life you have.
Often we get these three aspects confused. We typically think: I have the life I live because of the choices I make which are hardwired due to who I am. Example: I am a pastor because I failed algebra because I existentially stink at math. You know, hypothetically. Or we put off embracing who we are created to be because we think we need to have something else to complete the picture before we take action. If only I was married, made that salary, had that job title or lived in that neighborhood. Once I have this thing, I’ll be able to do what I want and then I’ll finally be *insert quality here.*
All of these are the tail of identity we use to wag the dog of our whole lives. It’s so common, and yet there’s no freedom in it. The above equation is one of bondage. Let’s get free. That’s how Paul responds to his experience of bondage: “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
Freedom. Peace. Truth. They’re available, and I think looking at this problem in a different frame can help move us towards the freedom of transformation. The coaching model BE/DO/HAVE flips all this around. Instead of saying once I have this thing (money, time, support, health) then I will become X we start with BE — I *am* the kind of person who can *do these actions* to help me *have the kind of life I want.*
– I am a person who is loved and worth loving, therefore I can make the kinds of choices a person who is loved makes.
– I am worthy of nurture and care, so I can make nurturing and caring decisions.
– I am a person who honors my commitments. I finish what I start. I follow through.
– Here’s the truth: I am already redeemed, made whole, set free by Christ. Therefore, I can live a life that’s set free! I don’t need to allow question marks around who God has made me to be keep me enslaved. It’s done!
What kind of life do you want to experience? Do you have the answer in your mind?
OK, so next think: what kind of person would experience that sort of life and what behaviors would they choose to bring about that kind of life?
Before I went through coaching and experienced this shift in thinking, I spent a lot of time second guessing myself. I had goals and ideas that I really wanted to take action on, and despite my big talk about my dreams I struggled with confidence that if I put myself out there I wouldn’t be “good enough.” Was my writing worth sharing? Did I even have anything worth saying?
Or I struggled with a past narrative of not following through on the commitments I made to myself. Sure, I had a website and even paid for it. But I never shared it with anyone!
It all clicked once I embraced a belief that yes, my thoughts were worth sharing and my words had value. I embraced a belief that I am a person who follows through on the commitments I make to myself.
Then I had to take action rooted in that belief that would move me towards my desired goal of sharing my writing. I had to write. Not just write but publish a post. Not just hit publish but share. I set up a goal to write, publish, and share 15 blog posts in 12 weeks. And I did it! I followed through on my goal! Therefore… I am a person who follows through on my goals!!!
It was the process of taking action rooted in the belief of who I am that transformed me in to the very person I wanted to be. As a spiritual leader who is a coach I believe that all experiences of transformation are deeply spiritual. I moved from a person who questioned a gift God had given to me because I was mired in self-doubt to a person who is empowered and equipped by God to share his love and hope with the world through the specific gifting and voice He’s given me.
So, what kind of life do you want to live? What kind of person do you think would have that kind of life?
Now let’s break it down: what is one action that you will commit to doing that will help you have that life?
Thoughts, beliefs, and personality are abstract concepts. Action is concrete. So if you’re seeking to integrate your thoughts, beliefs, identity, and the daily expression of your life in Christ, shift to focusing on what you choose to do? Our daily choices are an expression of our unchangeable identity as a beloved and delivered child of Christ. To experience this effective path to transformation we must live like it!
- Find a way to capture your vision of what you want your life to look like: what are the qualities or experiences you want to have? Draw, make a bullet list, or spend some time journaling around that question.
- What 1 or 2 actions will move you closer to that life?
- Commit to spending 6 or 12 weeks to make one (yes, just one at a time!) of these actions a regular habit.
- Remind yourself daily: I am the beloved and delivered child of Jesus Christ. I am already fully equipped to commit to these actions to live a transformed life in Christ.
- Find accountability. Share the action you’ve committed to with a friend or mentor and ask them to check in with you for an update once a week. Hiring a coach is another great way to get accountability and support on your journey of transformation.
Faith Community Church, Pastor of Family Ministry