How To Be Successful When Trying a New Activity

Obstacles and How to Overcome Them

Can Montessori-style visitation ever fail?  Yes, of course it can.  Nothing works every time or every place in any field of endeavor, and human relations activities are especially chancy.  Why is that so?  This sent my thoughts to what I learned during training and service as a counseling psychologist. These principles have wide application but the context in my mind as I write is the use of the materials we publish that use Montessori methodologies.

 

The Four Most Common Obstacles to Success

When trying any new activity (or a new way of performing a familiar activity) one or more of these obstacles is likely to arise: (1) Fear of the unknown.  (2) Prideful reluctance to exchange “my way” for “your way.”  (3) Habit.  (4) Satan’s interference.  First, we’ll define our terms, then summarize the solutions to these barriers.

Fear  Fear arises when facing the unknown.  It is natural, built into us by our loving Creator for our protection.  Fear is useful when we look both ways before crossing the street, but submitting to fear when we do not need to is harmful because it erodes away parts of life where there should be confidence.

Prideful resistance to change  Pride is thinking too highly of oneself; the opposite of humility.  Thoughts that are so toxic they leak out of the mind and into behavior.  Pride, the source of all sin, dominates the thoughts and actions of every unredeemed human and remains an irritant until it is displaced by humility.  Humility requires candor about self, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves” (Phil 2:3).  This includesthe possibilitythat one may learn something from another, which is why Paul wrote, “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you”(Romans 12:3).

Habit  Many habits are useful.  You would have been hit by a car long ago if it were not for your habit of looking both ways before stepping into the street.  Many habits are useful in one context but not in another.  For example, describing one’s own aches and pains is a normal part of a healthy marriage but would be burdensome or worse to an invalid or one approaching death.  You would not do that I think, but it is easy to slip into the usual way of doing things.  We are most likely to do what we have done most often.  We must give up habits that do not work.

Satan  We are in a war between supernatural forces: Jehovah, God of Love versus Satan the Vindictive Liar, who prowls around seeking to destroy love, life, and truth.  Satan’s hurtful meddling is designed to build a wall between you and God.  You cannot avoid it but you can overcome it.  Satan is especially on the hunt for those who would teach God’s love to others. 

 

Beating Back the Obstacles to Success

This is limited counsel on this subject, but it outlines the needed methods.  The indispensible elements in any task are God’s guidance (cognitive), encouragement (emotional), and support (practical).  The assurances of Scripture are given to raise our hope during difficult times.

Squelching fear  Fear diminishes by facing the unknown; by doing what is feared.  Yes, easier said than done, so it’s time to call in support: (1) Wise counsel.  Measure the size of the threat—is it a tiger or a mouse?  Test the thing (person, action) that is feared against God’s Word.  (See 2 Timothy 3:16-17)  Reference materials are helpful.  The websitehttp://www.bibletopics.com/topics.htm can  help you quickly find scriptures on almost any key word and the sitewww.BibleGateway.com has multiple translations and commentaries.  (2) One or more trustworthy companions.  More wise counsel, plus encouragement and the benefit of “being with.”  Did your mom go with you on your first day of school?  Moral support helps.  (3) The Holy Spirit, the ultimate source of wise counsel, trustworthy companionship, and practical support.    Learn to confidently enjoy relationship with God whose Son promised “I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matt 28:20).  God has always loved and protected his people (see Gen 15:1, John 14:1, 2 Thes 3:16).

Reducing pride  Christians are not free of pride until transformed in Heaven.  Until then, expect growth in humility to be slow.  But expect growth, mostly in small increments grown by conscious realignment of attitude.  It also occurs by dragged-through-a-knothole-backward occasions of awareness of what you really are like.  If you let it, this will prompt a painful leap to a new plateau of humility; a breakthrough commitment to give greater control of your mind, will, and action to Christ as lord of your life,.  We don’t become humble without being humbled.  (See Prov 15:33, Phil 2:3, Eph 4:22-24, Col 3:12)

Changing habits  Enduring change requires repetitions; seventeen, some say.  Do you think you can do it by yourself?  Maybe, but a cheerleader/coach who both encourages you in the new way and holds you accountable to continue in the new way is better. 

 

Satan  The enemy wants you.  Paul had seen this, as shown by what he wrote to the Corinthians,“But I am afraid, that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ”(2 Cor 11:3).  It is still true, and that is bad news.

Except for the fact that there is good news.  Peter, in moments of cowardice, had three times denied knowing Jesus but later, having experienced God’s faithful love, writes with confidence, “... the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials ...” (2 Peter 2:9).  The apostle John, is old, wise, and tested in spiritual combat when he assures us that, “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome [temptations from Satan], because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

 

During times when Satan is slapping us around and fouling our thoughts with his poisonous lies, God remains sovereign and continues to protect and guide us whether we feel it or not.

 

Summary

Step 1: Commit to the full process.   Upon engaging with a new activity you should know what you need to know so you can do it right.

 

Step 2: Acknowledge and surmount every weakness in your approach.  Don’t kid yourself.  If you can’t master Plan A, find a Plan B or Plan C that accomplishes the same thing.  If that can’t be done, find an area of ministry more compatible with your aptitudes.

 

Step 3: Master effective skills.  I)f it was all in the head you could win the PGA championship while sitting in a La-Z-Boy chair.  Hardly anything is knowledge only.  Visitation, comforting, encouraging, teaching, evangelism, and nearly all other forms of ministry require skills in addition to knowledge.

 

Step 4: Build relationships that go beyond entertainment.  Seek to facilitate spiritual growth in those you visit so that they are enriched with that which has eternal value.

"Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that."   (Ephesians 5:1-2 from The Message)