ABCs of Transformation Series: Freedom—The Impact of Grace
by Rolfe Carawan, MEd and Lea Carawan, MA on September 11th, 2023
As a life coach, I am asked to help people get unstuck. Throughout the process it is quite common to help people examine their thoughts or beliefs so they can walk in freedom and success. One of the common beliefs that frequently creates a roadblock to their desired change is the belief that we can always transform ourselves by simply applying the correct methods or strategies.
There is nothing wrong with methods or strategies—in fact, the ABCs of Transformation and E.A.S.E Model we offer have been incredibly effective in helping people implement what they are learning. What has become abundantly clear, as followers of Jesus, is that if we trust ANYTHING other than the grace, power, and love of Christ for our transformation, we will fail.
Obedience in the transformation process places us in alignment with God and His created order. However, the ONLY thing that will cause our efforts to even approach the possibility of working is God’s grace flowing through us! Everything begins and ends with the grace of God extended to His creation. Grace provides the power and the environment conducive for transformation.
Ephesians 2:4–7 says,“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:4–7 ESV).
I had heard it said and repeated it frequently, “I am a sinner saved by grace.” The problem was that became my identity. I was a sinner that sometimes acted like a saint. Even though I was saved by grace, my identity caused me to hide and be distrusting. Knowing my real self, the person I was deep down and the things I struggled with that were clearly not “Christian,” I was convinced if someone knew that person, the real me, they would reject me.
Then in 2006, I was sharing at a men’s retreat and made the comment as I often did that I was “just a sinner saved by grace.” When I finished, a brother came up to me and said, “Rolfe, there is one thing you shared today that simply isn’t true.” Well as you can imagine, my ears perked up. “You said you were a sinner saved by grace, but the Bible says that you are a saint, and not a sinner.”
Now, I had heard this numerous times and had dismissed it as being just semantics. Surely it just meant the word “saint” was the name that was used to make a distinction between sinners who had rejected Jesus and sinners who had accepted Jesus. Yet, they were still sinners, right?
I thanked him politely even though I was thinking he was just some Christian nerd and part-time theologian who wanted to ensure that everything was said “just so.” But to his credit, he said, “I can see you are not convinced about what I just shared, so listen to this teaching called ‘True Faced’ by John Lynch—it changed my life.”
I listened to the teaching on the way home. Halfway through Lynch’s presentation, I had to pull the car over because I was crying so hard I couldn’t see the road. The Holy Spirit was using this man to introduce me to a God of Grace, who has done everything for me. This God not only took my punishment so I could spend eternity with Him, but this God had made up His mind that I would be holy, even before He spoke the first word of creation. Ephesians tells us, “Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will” (Ephesians 1:4–5 ESV).
I finally understood what it meant when people pointed out that Jesus didn’t die to make bad men good or good men better, but rather He came to make dead people alive! I was dead but received life as a new creation, a brand-new species: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV).
As we conclude this five-part series on the ABCs of Transformation, we end with the key to all transformation—our confidence that God will provide His truth, power, and most especially, grace, to help us mature into who God says we already are.
John Lynch, in his book The Cure, provided a powerful illustration of what it means to mature into who God says we already are: “Nature provides many examples of this incredible discrepancy between who we appear to be and who we truly are. Consider the caterpillar. If we brought a caterpillar to a biologist and asked him to analyze it and describe its DNA, he would tell us, ‘I know this looks like a caterpillar to you. But scientifically, according to every test, including DNA, this is fully and completely a butterfly.’”
God has wired into a creature looking nothing like a butterfly a perfectly complete butterfly identity. And because the caterpillar is a butterfly in essence, it will one day display the behavior and attributes of a butterfly. So it is with us. God has already spoken who we are in Christ; now we walk through the process of allowing His grace to transform us. As we lean into the identity we were already given, God’s work will be brought to completion.
So, as you help your clients apply the ABCs of Transformation and the E.A.S.E model to their lives, I pray you are reminded of the One whose grace is truly doing the work.
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