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I just started a new season of all three above things since we arrived back in Thailand.  (Getting back in shape through diet and intense exercise, learning to read, write, and speak the Thai language better, and sharing the Good News of Jesus with as many people as possible in day to day life)

As I was thinking about it all I started to see how in some ways that they have alot of similarities.  Here is what I am learning:

-All three will force an increased capacity:

Capacity:  The ability or power of something to do, to produce, to experience, or to understand.

We can only carry on capacity from our last seasons for so long.  If we are growing in God, we will inevitable come up against an assignment that is greater than our current capacity to accomplish it.  When we reach the end of our capacity, we can choose to regress from that point on or we can choose to be stretched.  When I think of  greater capacity, I think of a boxer who takes loads of punches in practice before he gets in the ring.  The more pain he takes in practice, the less pain he will probably experience in the ring.  We all have a capacity, but in order to grow our capacity we must be stretched, expanded, and sometimes even pounded!

-In all three we need a mentor, someone to look up to, who is living on the other side of change:

In P90x, it is why transformation videos are so powerful.  Here is a real life person who’s been there, done that.  They have felt the pain, made the sacrifice, and seen the rewards.  In language, for me it’s seeing a fellow worker easily explaining him or herself to a Thai person in Thai, getting a laugh from a joke, and preaching a heartfelt sermon without even having to think of the translation.

In evangelism, it’s having a friend who was once as nervous and even scared as you feel sometimes, but has learned how to manage his emotions and effectively share his faith in way that both heartfelt and easily understood.  Someone who has broken out of the boundaries and has seen incredible things happen in Jesus name as they chose to step out.  The fruit of their lives is the fruit that you want in yours and even greater!  You can see that it CAN be done even when your brain is screaming “It’s hopeless.  Don’t even try it.”

In all three you will face temptations to take short cuts:

There will come a a time when you want to stop short, slack off, or avoid them all together! All three require focus.  Even withfocus, you will hit a slump at one time or another.   But you have to pick yourself up again, redouble your efforts, regain your focus, and press on.  One of the things that separate winners from losers many times is that the winners never gave up.  They may have felt the same pain, the same struggle; but they decided to keep moving forward….which leads me to my next point.

All three require perseverance in order to be effective:

There will be a reluctance to do all three at first-change is naturally uncomfortable, so not changing has to become more uncomfortable than the thought of the new changes you desire in your life.  We have to come to a place of desire that exceeds our reluctance.  Our pain of staying the same has to be greater than the fear of the pain that will come because of change.  I am naturally a lazy person and I want to give up sometimes….well, alot of times.  But I remind myself of the pain of staying the same and I press forward.  If I blow it, I simply refuse to give up and I get back up and try again.  I heard someone once say, “If you are already in a hole, the best thing to do is stop digging.”  Get out of that thing, get your head straight, ask God for help, and move on.  I like what Tony Horton says in P90X, “Do your best and forget the rest.”  Good words to live by.

Preparation is required for each :

I find that when I am getting ready to make a big shift in my life I have to prepare myself mentally for it.  It’s more than simply physching myself up for the challenge.  It’s making sure that I have all the right tools I need to succeed and do well.  I check my margins in life and ensure that I have the time and available energy to go for it.  I have to see myself walking through my day and accomplishing my goals.  If I can’t see it, the chances are that I won’t be able to hold out for long.  If I can see it, I can do it.  If I have honestly looked at where I am and where I want to be, then I also need to fill in the gap to know what it will take for me to get there.  This is where setting goals and putting time frames on them is handy. In evangelism, it’s not about having canned responses to questions people ask, but knowing the scriptures and hearts of men well enough that you are prepared to give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope that you have.  It takes ongoing preparation and diligence to ask the hard questions and search out your own answers.

All are uncomfortable and a little painful when your first start:

My first week of P90x I was more sore than I can remember being in a long time.  But I knew that this was part of the process and I would be over it soon.  In language I knew that I would have to become like a child again in many ways and my thoughts were confirmed the first day I started class and the teacher put on a preschool video for us to watch as we wrote each of the 44 consonants 100 plus times!  In evangelism, it’s the awkward feeling of knowing where to start and getting over your fear of being rejected.  All are uncomfortable, but the great news is that if we press on the pain will go away.  We will become more natural and life will get easier if we put in the work.

Each have the power to transform your life over time:

I know that if I give myself more fully to changing my diet and exercise habits, learning to be more fluent in Thai, and live a lifestyle of sharing Jesus with as many people as I can I WILL become a different, more powerful person.  It’s just a matter of making the changes over time.  I like when Paul is speaking to Timothy and he says something in the effect of, “Give yourself fully to these things so that your progress will be evident by everyone.”  He was basically saying that if Timothy would go for it, focus, and not give up; the changes in him would be seen by everyone.  That’s the kind of change I want.  The change where people say unsolicited, “Man, you are different…in a good way”!

All require lifestyle change:

Finally, when we make these types of changes, we must be ready for a lifestyle change.  It’s not just a one time event but moving from one level to another.  I think this is what the Christian life is supposed to be like.  We go from one level of glory on to the next, from one level of faith to the next.  We are expected to be growing and changing.  Especially if we are leaders we should be moving into different levels of leadership where our sphere of influence is expanding.  One way we can do this is by leading in the hard things and showing people that it can be done.  No one wants to follow someone who is just as unmotivated and cynical as they are.  They want a leader who has overcome some things in life and knows how to motivate others to do the same.

At least that’s the kind of leader I want to be and follow…

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