I remember being a new follower of Jesus in a home group with our college pastor, Richard, and many other newly saved young adults. I was astounded by our born again experience. I found out as a semi-hippie that there was no high like the Most High! I was grateful that someone like Richard was always there to guide and encourage us at the beginning of our journey into Kingdom life.
Even though I had a dramatic conversion, I still struggled with some lifestyle issues and spiritual disciplines. I frequently felt like a failure. One of the things Richard taught us was this; NEVER STOP STARTING. He would say this frequently. It was a lifeline then and still is.
Here are some examples of what to never stop starting in:
Bible reading and prayer
Overcoming addictive behaviors
Growing in connection with our loved ones
Doing what we love
Learning new things
Letting go of control and trusting God
Why we should never stop starting:
Because it is part of not becoming weary in well-doing – “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (Galatians 6:9).
Because it teaches us to celebrate progress, not perfection – The perfectionist mindset will not allow us to feel good about ourselves (or others) unless things are done perfectly. When we start again with hope, it is another opportunity to celebrate ourselves and overcome perfectionism.
Because the only other alternative is to quit – And when we really consider this option, it is not very appealing.
Because others will benefit by it – As we keep seeking to grow and move forward in life, we will create a breakthrough that others get to walk in. One of my favorite declarations is, “My forward movement causes Red Seas to part” (Exodus 14:15ff). As the sea parts, others get to walk through it too.
Because you are an overcomer – We may feel like failures, but we are not failures. We are not who our past says we are, but we are who God says we are. We are “more than conquerors” (Romans 8:37) and we have already been given “a spirit of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).
Because those who succeed most seem to fail most – Just as a toddler learning to walk seems to be a failure in the beginning journey of walking, we too will often struggle as we seek to walk higher in different areas of life. Aren’t you glad you did not stop starting in learning how to walk?
How do we never stop starting:
This time with greater wisdom and strategies – When I miss the mark, I do not call it failure, I call it learning. Every time I start again, I have greater wisdom in how to do things better.
By involving others as needed – We all have an area or areas where we will need to include others so we break through into consistency. As we humble ourselves and say, “I need help,” it will increase the grace to do what we desire to do (James 4:6). We can involve others through accountability, having someone join us in a beneficial habit, etc.
By making declarations – “God gives life to the dead by calling those things that are not as though they are” (Romans 4:17). As we declare life (“I eat well and exercise regularly,” “I am consistent in Bible reading,” or “There is always a solution for every area of my life.”
By making more achievable goals – If writing is a struggle in this season, it’s better to write two minutes a day than nothing, even if the “ideal” goal is to write 10 hours a week. If you’re struggling to exercise every day, try exercising twice a week! Twice a week with celebration is better than no times a week with an accusing, perfectionist mindset!
By understanding everyone has to start again – One of the biggest lies we are tempted to believe is that we are the only one who struggles to develop consistency in important areas of life. No, we are all making adjustments that require us to start again on a regular basis.
By delighting in the Lord – “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). As we say, “Lord, I cannot wait to see how you are going to help me be consistent in this area!”, we activate the strength of the joy of the Lord (Nehemiah 8:10).
“Never stop starting.” These words changed my life years ago and still do.
Steve Backlund was a senior pastor for seventeen years before joining the team at Bethel Church in Redding, CA in 2008. Steve is a leader developer, joy activist, a revivalist teacher, and as Senior Associate Director, is a key part of the Global Legacy (a ministry of Bethel Church) leadership team. He travels extensively throughout the world encouraging churches and leaders and has authored a number of books.