“People never really change!”
I’ve heard this statement from countless frustrated people over the years. In moments of discouragement I’ve thought the same thing—not just about others but about myself, too. How much can someone really change?
To clarify I’m not speaking of personality change—introvert verses extrovert or idealist verses realist. We are all made uniquely in the image of God, with strengths that help us to live out our purpose. The kind of change I want to address is a transformation of our character that happens from the inside out.
Have you ever tried to change yourself? We’ve all wanted to be more patient, kind or loving. But these efforts are often short-lived. We can only last for so long with our fake smiles and forced sweet dispositions. True change happens by the power of the Holy Spirit as we submit our lives to Him by faith.
People CAN change!
This summer I discovered a missing piece in my parenting arsenal: Empathy. It’s not that I never had any compassion or understanding when the kids were sick or hurting, but I could see that there were key moments when my task-oriented self just wanted to skip past those pesky emotions altogether. Honestly, there were times when I didn’t feel an ounce of empathy. As hard as I tried on my own I just couldn’t emulate the feeling. And let me tell you teens know when you really care and when you’re faking it!
Effort alone wasn’t going to create the lasting heart change I desired, but there were some key steps in the process that made a huge difference. If you’re looking for lasting transformation these steps will get you well on your way!
4 Steps to Change
Acknowledge Your Need for God
Admit that you can’t do it on your own and ask for God to change you.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Psalm 51:10 (NLT)
Cultivate Good Friendships.
If you need to stop gossiping then quit hanging out with your friend who gossips. If you need to be more empathetic watch how other people with empathy interact with their friends and family. (Thank God for my mother—she’s a beautiful example of empathy!)
Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” 1 Corinthians 5:33 (NIV)
Rejoice in Suffering
Recognize that your current trial is an opportunity to experience transformation. Don’t waste it!
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:3-5 (ESV)
Have Faith in God’s Grace
We are transformed by the grace of God working in our lives.
I’m living proof that people really can change! Empathy comes from heart, and I can now look at experiences through someone else’s perspective and imagine walking in their shoes. This is nothing short of a miracle! Just ask my husband—he’s been trying to get me to do this for years.
What transformation do you want in your life? I’d love to pray with you about it today! Comment below or start a conversation on social media.