Think of a struggle you have. Lingering sin that just doesn’t seem to go away. Maybe it is a tendency towards fear and anxiety? Do you struggle with impatience? Laziness? Pride?
How do you typically try to fix the problem?
The Cycle of Try Harder
I notice a cycle many of us get caught in. I saw it in college students, when I worked with Cru. I see it in church ministry. I experience it in my own life.
It starts with a need to change behavior, a longing for victory over sin.
Do this. Don’t do that. Try this, and that Take a look around, and try what she does.
When all of that doesn’t work, go look for a “better” church with a “better” pastor. Try a conference. A retreat. Another Beth Moore Study. Find an accountability partner…
TRY. TRY. TRY.
People and tools certainly have a part to play in our personal growth (and I am in no way suggesting that you stop going to church, or doing your Bible study!) But, even the best preacher, the greatest tools, and our most sincere efforts cannot change our hearts.
Effort spent on the Cycle of Trying Harder leads to frustration, failure, and it does not produce true and lasting change. It is impossible to keep this “wheel” going; whether it takes weeks or years, failure comes, and it leaves us stagnant and feeling guilty.
Two Roads Leading to the Same Thing
Some use this guilt as fuel to try even harder. They jump back in—more resolved than ever to change—but failure comes sooner or later, and the cycle continues on. Many have managed to keep this wheel going their whole life; they are exhausted, prideful souls who don’t experience the grace of God in their day-to-day living.
Others eventually see the futility, and recognize that they will never be able to change. They usually give up the cycle altogether; they quit trying to change themselves, stop coming to church, give up reading their Bible and the pursuit of being good. They, also, do not experienced the grace of God in their day-to-day living.
The problem with the Cycle of Try Harder, is that our energies are focused on the wrong thing: our own effort.
Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? —Galatians 3:3 ESV
The key to realizing “success” in the Christian life is not in trying harder; it is in believing better.
If we focus our efforts on responding to the character of God and His work and calling in our life, true and lasting change can occur. Problem is, most of us have incorrect views of God, ourselves, and the great gospel that gives us the freedom and ability to obey.
New Year’s resolutions are around the corner. Many of us look forward to a new year, a clean start, and hope for big changes in our life and behavior. Instead of continuing on the Cycle of Try Harder this new year, we invite you to focus on Believing Better.
For the month of December the common thread in our posts will be on Believing Better. Looking at who God is, who we are as His child, and how Believing Better about God and ourselves will drive us to obedience. Not out of a guilt-ridden pressure to perform, but out of a grace-laden freedom to worship the One whom we have encountered in a deeper way.
We would love for you to join us in this journey, so be sure to subscribe to get posts sent directly to your inbox.
Are You Stuck in the Cycle of Try Harder?
Do you see yourself in this cycle? Do you see the connection between what you believe about God and how you behave? Is there lingering sin in your life which you just can’t seem to get rid of? Are you weary from the try harder life?
We’d love to walk alongside you this month—leave a comment if this resonates with you!