For years, I (Lea) tried to be a better person and stop sinning. Though I genuinely wanted to change, I couldn’t do it by just trying harder and committing to doing better. Maybe this is your story, too. If the change we want involves short-term sacrifices for long-term payoffs, it will inevitably involve suffering and sacrifice. Because of that, we often “lose heart” and find it difficult to endure to the end. To compound this, many of us don’t believe suffering can be a good thing, and we go so far to say that suffering is not good, and a good God would not require it of us.
Jesus models the powerful role of suffering as described in Hebrews 5, “In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him” (Hebrews 5:7–9 ESV).
The vibrant, abundant life God has called us to live often requires difficult change. It may involve the ABCs of transformation: the A-ha moments, the Breaking Free of strongholds, and Commitment to Change. However, we too often try to start with the Commitment to Change, when what we first need is an A-ha, a revelation from God so we can align our beliefs with His truth. We may also need the power of God to break strongholds in our lives because of the deadly grip of sin. Our commitment to change is needed, yet is only effective when God affects the transformation, and then we intentionally cooperate with Him to align our beliefs and behaviors to His will.
The E.A.S.E. Model
When God fills us with a desire to change—to be transformed—He provides a path. One option to consider is the E.A.S.E. Model.
The first E in E.A.S.E is Expectancy. There is a big difference between expectancy and expectation. When we start the process with specific expectations of how, when or why God is doing His work in us, we often miss His plans and purposes. Instead, we are told God is faithful, that His ways are higher than our ways, and that we can trust Him to complete in us what He has begun (2 Timothy 2:13; Isaiah 55:8–9; Philippians 1:6). You can ask God to show you what He wants to change, what He is concerned about in your life. As Christian coaches, we look for what God is initiating in our clients.
When the needed change has been identified, the Bible encourages us to welcome Accountability, the A in E.A.S.E. For many, accountability has been a negative experience; it may have felt critical, impatient, demanding or judgmental without love or grace. Healthy accountability can be structured in a way that helps achieve our goals and changes our behavior using positive peer pressure. The most productive kind of accountability is voluntary. We give access to someone we trust. It requires honesty, it is usually specific, and it should be done in a way that is life giving.
In addition to accountability, we frequently need Support, the S in E.A.S.E. We may require a variety of support systems and resources. It may be friends, family, books, sermons, communities, or programs; it takes many shapes and forms. In one instance where I (Lea) was struggling with a longstanding issue, I heard about a couple who helped individuals overcome past hurts and wounds. In my case, I was overwhelmed and prone to depression over a deep belief that I was a failure in God’s eyes. With their help, I listed all the negative things I believed about God, myself, and others. This process was neither easy nor painless, though incredibly necessary. Then we began identifying the truth from God’s Word in response to the lies. In their presence, I began confessing my sin and speaking God’s truth over every single falsehood. Now, I was saying the same thing that God says about myself and my sin. Confession became a profound and powerful experience. For the first time, I examined these things in the light, one by one. At times, I felt the burden of my failures and, at other times, the joy of being a new creation in Christ. Confession became the first step in my commitment to change.
Positive reinforcement is often the key to lasting transformation. We all need Encouragement, the final E in E.A.S.E. Encouragement might include praise, reward, celebration, or simply the joy that comes when we are free from sin and aligned with God’s design for us. Encouragement solidifies and reinforces that “doing the right thing”—especially in difficult situations—is what matters most. Encouragement lets people know they are on the right track, and helps them to maintain positive, ethical, and productive thoughts and actions.
The key to all of this is the grace of God. Hold fast to His promises and allow Him to do the work of transformation.
Questions to process with the Lord or a loved one:
- Is there anything in your life you know God wants to remove, heal or transform?
- Is there someone in your life you can invite to hold you accountable?
- Are you accessing the support God has provided for you? Or are you being asked to provide support for another?
Rolfe Carawan, MEd, is the President of LifeMatters Ministries, which focuses on discipleship, biblical principles, and tackling relevant issues of our times, and is also the Co-Founder of Carawan Global Group. Inspired by his passion to relieve suffering and release potential, Rolfe brings his real-world experience and strategies to individuals in every walk of life. Known for his contagious enthusiasm, his coaching draws out the best in people, igniting a renewal of energy, engagement, and productivity, as well as successfully transitioning people through change, transforming human behavior, strengthening relationships, and overcoming generational gaps. His winning strategies have been developed over 30 years of successfully coaching, training, and motivating people. Speaking to organizations ranging from Fortune 500 and high-tech companies to healthcare and nonprofits, Rolfe has spoken to nearly a million people throughout America, as well as audiences on four continents. He is an author (Profiles in Character and Character Revolution), successful teacher, coach, trained counselor, and uses experiential learning methods to create healthier relationships at home and work, effectively implement change, and strengthen communication. Rolfe has worked and volunteered his services in a number of countries including Brazil, Ghana, Israel, Ukraine, Russia, Canada, and Mexico. He currently on the Board of Reference for the International Christian Coaches Institute (ICCI) and is a Certified Transformed Living Coach Trainer™. See more at www.transformedliving.org
Lea Carawan, MA, is the founder of Transformed Living, a ministry that provides Bible-based resources and services designed to make disciples who love God, walk in freedom, and build life-giving relationships at home, work, and play. She and her husband, Rolfe, built a successful speaking, coaching, and consulting firm serving organizations ranging from Fortune 500 and high-tech companies to healthcare and nonprofits. For nearly 20 years, they helped leaders implement winning strategies that brought out the best in people. Lea was the cofounder and served as the Executive Director for the Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation. For over a decade, she led the effort to equip and mobilize the largest network of federal and state elected leaders—nearly 100 sitting members of Congress and 900 state legislators—who are committed to standing for faith and implementing proactive strategies to advance religious freedom, prayer, and America’s Judeo-Christian heritage. She is a speaker, consultant, ordained minister, and multi-certified life, relationship, and spiritual formation coach and trainer. With a career spanning three decades, Lea has transitioned seamlessly between entrepreneurship, fashion, consulting, ministry, and motherhood. Lea has been a frequent speaker at women’s meetings, conferences, and marriage retreats around the world, including countries such as Brazil, Ukraine, and the United Arab Emirates. Lea is currently on the Board of Reference for the International Christian Coaching Institute (ICCI) and a Certified Transformed Living Coach Trainer. See more at: www.transformedliving.org