As a Christian, you yearn to become more like Jesus. But too often, perhaps, you find yourself stuck in the same old attitudes and behaviors you’d like to change.
No matter how frustrated you are, be assured that real change truly is possible. It will come when you learn how to stop unknowingly blocking God’s work in your life and start unleashing His transforming power within. God longs to share the beauty of His character with all His people so the world will become a more beautiful place – a place that reflects His glory.
Here are some ways you can pursue a character that reflects the image of your Creator:
Avoid apathy and embrace passionate living. Know that God wants you to live a passionate life, and that He wants you to be passionate about the things He’s passionate about Himself. He wants you to love extravagantly and take the risks you need to take to grow. Make forging a closer relationship with God your primary passion, and He will transform your other passions in the process.
Turn your focus away from yourself and onto God and other people. Realize that self-indulgence isn’t important enough to give your life to. Understand that your life is meant to be given to the God who created you and used to bless others around you. Avoid pride and greed.
Pursue humility. Ask God to help you see yourself honestly for who you are, and to accept it. Come to grips with your own human flaws, and realize that you must depend on God’s grace in life. Remember that all of life is a gift. Rather than demanding things from God, thank Him for what He has already given you. Understand that God is not nearly as concerned about your talent as He is about your character. Ask God to help you submit to His will, especially when it goes against your personal desires. Remember that Christ was humble when He came to Earth, and that anywhere He has walked is not beneath you. Don’t worry about what other people think of you; instead, strive to please God.
Become an authentic person with integrity. Don’t waste time and energy trying to pretend, or to alter your behavior to fit different situations. Instead, build your life on biblical truth, and invite God to transform you from the inside out so that you can live by the truths you believe. Know your values and refuse to compromise them. Ask God to show you what kind of person He wants you to become. Then focus on actively becoming that person. Understand that real power lies not in manipulating others, but in living a life that inspires them to also grow closer to God.
* Be courageous. Ask God to fill you with His Holy Spirit so you’ll be able to overcome your fears. When God tells you to take action, don’t hesitate. Do so right away. Take risks. Be more concerned about helping others than about self-preservation.
* Strive to live a noble life. Seek to use all that you are and all that you have for the good of others. Regularly remember all that God has done for you, and thank Him for it. Let your gratitude motivate you to be generous. Forgive freely. Focus your mind on thoughts that are pleasing to God. Ask God to help you see that good that He has brought out of even the worst situations in your life.
* Let God make you whole. Open yourself up to receiving God’s love so you can be free to give love to others. Invite God to heal your damaged emotions and broken relationships. Realize that love is not a limited resource; God has plenty to go around. Decide to love God and others with all your heart, trusting that by doing so, love will return to you.
* Be generous. Discover the joy that comes from serving others. Be willing to give to others without expecting anything from them in return, simply because you love God and you know that God loves them. Expect God to bless you with love in such abundance that you’ll be compelled to keep giving. Act as a conduit through which God’s love can flow to bless you and other people.
* Pay attention to small things. Realize that God can bring great things out of small acts of faithfulness. Ask God to help you recognize, appreciate, and fully use the talents He has given you. Seek to contribute to others throughout your daily life. Persevere in frustrating situations, knowing that God has you there for a reason. Know that even if you’re making decisions that carry little weight, the way in which you make them reveals your character, and your character is of great importance to God. Understand that what seems small now may in fact have big ramifications in the future.
* Pursue patience. Realize that you may miss God’s work by giving up too soon. Continue to do what you know is right even when your situation doesn’t change. Ask God to give you the strength to endure until you complete the tasks He wants to you do. Expect to suffer in our fallen world, but look for the meaning and transformation that God can bring out of your pain. Ask God to help you be content whatever your circumstances, and to teach you whatever He wants you to learn from them.
* Seek wisdom. Ask God to help you connect the dots between the quality of your decisions and the quality of your life. Understand the consequences of your actions. Realize that your choices always affect the people around you, and even have cosmic repercussions. Know that all of life is interconnected. Ask God to help you view life through the lens of relationships. Ask God to give you an eternal perspective so you can make wise decisions in the present.
* Become a servant. Understand that God, Creator of the universe and source of all power, has made Himself a servant because of His love. Know that if you seek to become a servant as well, you join God in His eternal purposes.
Adapted from Uprising: A Revolution of the Soul, copyright 2004 by Erwin Raphael McManus. Published by Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Tn., www.thomasnelson.com.
Erwin Raphael McManus serves as lead pastor and cultural architect of Mosaic in Los Angeles and founder of Awaken, a personal and organizational creativity development group. As a national and international consultant, his expertise focuses on culture, change, leadership, and creativity. He partners with Bethel Theological Seminary as distinguished professor and futurist and is also a contributing editor for the Leadership Journal. He is the author of An Unstoppable Force (a 2002 Gold Medallion Award finalist) and Seizing Your Divine Moment. He and his wife, Kim, have two children, Aaron and Mariah, and a daughter in the Lord, Paty.