The other day I had the privilege of being asked to accompany a group of women to our local “pre-release center.” This is the place where incarcerated persons go a few years before being released from prison. The women going to visit the prison were representing a local church ministry entitled, Committed to Change. This particular session was the last of a twelve session program.
I was invited to speak with the incarcerated women about our church’s prison aftercare ministry entitled, COTAAN (Covenant Outreach Through Advocacy and Agency Networking www.cotaan.org )What a wonderful experience it was to see how the “Committed to Change” Ministry members had cultivated rapport with and deep respect from the prisoners in the room.
Throughout the twelve week session, each of the women in the group were asked to share their stories in letters. They also were asked to identify areas where they made mistakes, how they wanted to change and the goals and dreams they had for themselves. One by one, the ministry leader would allow each woman to share her desire for a life change. Then, one by one, she would ask, “Ok, so what plans are you developing to make that change. In order to change you must have a plan!”
As I listened to that statement over and over, I began to think not only about those women, but all of us. I kept hearing in my head the old adage, “To fail to plan is to plan to fail!” I thought about how frequently I hear people talking about their desire to change, even their determination to change. However, little change is realized. The problem? No plan. No strategy. No specificity. Just words and a temperamental will!
Change is not easy. It takes prayer, consistency, persistence and time. Whether we want to lose weight, exercise more, alter our way of thinking and perceiving, improve our time management, stop procrastinating or change a system it will not happen without a plan. Our plans do not necessarily have to be elaborate. They may be simple or complex. However, if we desire sustained change and success, we must have a plan.
Prayer is always a good first step. However, it should not be the last step! According the Scripture, “Faith without works is dead,” James 2:26
Here are some things to consider as you prepare your “change plan…”
- Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you on the specific thing(s) you need to changeChange is never easy. It is, however, possible. Stay committed. A change is going to come if you plan and by faith execute the orders given.
- Ask the Lord to order your steps
- Wait for the answer from the Lord (keep serving while you wait!)
- By faith, begin taking the steps you’ve been given
- Prayerfully invite one or two people to “hold you accountable”
- If you “slip up,” get up and remember that tomorrow is a new day (don’t wallow!)
- When discouraged and tempted to give up and turn back, put one foot in front of the other and remember what you are trying to accomplish!
- Identify others who have been successful at your desired change and seek to connect with them through conversation and or observation
- Learn from them and their mistakes/Learn from your own mistakes
- Write down specific steps you will take
- Read your steps often
- Reflect upon how far you have come
- Remember that you are not alone
Post a comment or send me an email at Shepastor1@hotmail.com
Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,