Let’s say you try to start a new habit in your life. It’s New Year’s Eve, so you decide to go to the gym. You decide to lose 20lb. You decide to pray every day for twenty minutes. Whatever it is – you have a new habit to make your life better. You start day 1 awesomely, maybe day 2 or 3 too, but suddenly, and faster than you thought, your discipline fades, and you are back in the same place, totally stuck and you hate yourself for it. There is no success there, just failure, and it leaves you frustrates and annoyed.
Not only have I heard that story or variations of it as a pastor for years, more times than I care to admit it’s been my story as well! We presume that discipline is the key – that if we just grit our teeth and try hard enough, we can change, and so we try again and again until we are disgusted at ourself by failing.
What you need to do is actually not discipline yourself more, but start by changing your desire and dream. You need to change at the idea-level, at the imagination level to walk into success. Then when you cultivate the new dream, then – although you will still have to discipline yourself – but it will be possible, even easy.
You start to see yourself as a godly man. You have an idea – you are holy. You start searching the Scriptures and you find out that the Word of God itself calls you holy and righteous and pure and blameless. You start to let that image dominate you. You start to see yourself as a righteous man, as a man of God, as a spiritual success. That image is painted in your mind by the Word and you accepting and meditating on that.
Then when the alarm goes off at 5.30am for you to pray in tongues for an hour, you spring out of bed and pray – not to become a man of prayer, a holy man, but because you deep down, at a heart level, see yourself as you truly are – a holy man.
You do not pray to become holy, you pray because you have finally realized you are holy. You do not stop stuffing your face with cake because you are trying to be healthy, you stop because you are healthy. You do not discipline to get disciplined, you discipline because you are disciplined.
You need to be more like Martin Luther King – “I have a dream”. You need a dream, then go for it. To try and go for it without the dream will not lead to success. When Jesus taught about moving mountains, His first instruction was “what things you desire”. the Greek word is aiteo, which means to crave or ask for something. Seeing results starts with desire, with a craving, with a dream of success. Start there and you will get to the right place!