This month, I’ve been trying to follow through on what I learned in my two months of knowledge building. In following through, I’m both using the knowledge and exercising self-control. Though the concept is simple, self-control is not.
A few days ago, my husband requested my involvement in a ministry training activity. I had already planned to be involved, but a change of plans required me to give more time. I wasn’t happy about this change, and my negativity showed.
Part of the problem was the timing of the request. It came just after I corrected my tired, non-listening toddler . . . then mopped up a large puddle of spilled coffee from the floor . . . then stripped off her coffee-muddied clothes and trudged upstairs to find clean ones . . . and all while trying to cook lunch. At least, this is what I told myself at the time.
But the real problem is that I can be pretty selfish with “my” time. (It’s not really mine because God controls how long I live, but I often think and act like it’s mine.)
I was reminded of what I wrote last week, that self-control means putting aside one thing in order to gain something better. In this case, I surrendered control of one evening. In exchange, I’ll gain the opportunity to bless my husband, encourage others in our church, and prepare for future ministry opportunities. When I look at the situation in that light, those gains are worth far more than one evening in a classroom.
No, self-control is not easy. It’s much easier to let our feelings determine how we will speak and behave. But self-control helps us see beyond our first reactions and feelings.
In some situations, we need to refocus, look beyond the sacrifice for the gains.
At other times, we need to repent. Repentance isn’t a popular concept these days, and that’s a shame. If we justify our selfish thoughts and actions, we hang onto them. By repenting of our wrongs, we gain the opportunity for a fresh start. Only in laying down one way can we pick up another.
Finally, we sometimes need to respond to the needs and requests others bring to us.
The struggle to do what we should do is not a sign we need to give up. The struggle signifies the Holy Spirit is growing our self-control and training us to see things from His perspective. Refocus, repent, respond—which of these opportunities do you need to accept today?