What usually drives you, something inward or something outward?
The Event Catalyst
I've been thinking about something I call an "event catalyst" for a long time. It's the idea that many human beings don't change until some outward big event happens that prompts them to change. An example would be getting cancer and then deciding that it's time to stop smoking. Or waiting until after your spouse or best friend gets upset with you before you stop doing the thing that led to them getting upset.
The example I think of the most is when we're living a life doing things that we know we shouldn't, things that we know are wrong, and then something life-shattering happens. Suddenly, we feel this pull to say, "I'm sorry, God. I promise I'll change this time. I won't do this anymore."
But is that enough to sustain us?
What Really Drives Us
I get it. We all wonder at times if the bad things that happen in our lives are just some form of punishment meted out to us by God. But notice it wasn't a desire to be better that changed us. It wasn't a desire to be who God wants us to be. It wasn't even that we necessarily woke up to the effects our choices were having on us, although that is a part of it.
It was the event. The event catalyzed the change.
If we're worried that what we've been doing brought on this huge event in our lives, our natural response would be to remove the things in our life that might have caused the event. In essence, events sometimes act as the sovereign force that rules our lives. Or, more accurately, we treat them that way. We give them that role in our lives every time we change as a result of them. So sometimes events change us. But only for a time.
It's a few weeks into a new year. It's the time when people are making changes and hoping they'll stick. But we're creatures of habit, and we soon find ourselves failing at the goals we've set. But what if it's because we're trusting in the wrong thing? An event is just an event. It doesn't hold any power to change us. It doesn't love us or hate us. It just is. And maybe what we've been doing caused it. Maybe it didn't. Either way, we have to find something that's bigger than an event to lead us to healthy and lasting change.
Driven by Something Bigger
I set some goals for this year like many people, and already I see myself slipping behind on some of them. It's disappointing, and it's frustrating. Especially in the areas where I want to be a better husband and daddy. But, of course, I know the "event" of a new year isn't enough to sustain me. I'm on a journey of trusting God more, and I realize that Jesus is bigger than an event. The dreams that Jesus has for what my life could be like are bigger and better than an event. Yet I find myself so easily trusting in the events in my life.
Even if you're not a person of faith in Jesus, the late Stephen Covey talked about successful people living by principles. Principles are patterns of behavior that we believe we should follow, and we follow them because we believe that our lives will be better than living lives without principles. We believe that living by these is better than letting something outward drive us. In this way, we're self-driven rather than event-driven. Or, in the case of those who live by faith, we walk by faith in Jesus who we believe has outlined the best way of living for us.
The Key to Real Change
As we start another new year, will we be outwardly-driven by an event catalyst or inwardly-driven by something bigger and better than an event?
The events are going to come, and, by all means, if they prompt us to change, we should change. But let's look deeper for a more lasting motivation.
This year, let's change because we know we should; not because something pushed us into it. Let's pursue our goals because we know we should. Let's pour into the lives of others because we know we should.
The event catalyst lasts only so long. Let's pursue something that endures.