It is my friend’s stock answer. Whenever someone chides her about altering her ways, she smiles coyly and says, “Does anyone ever really change?”

It’s become a joke between us, but the deeper question is no laughing matter.

Not long ago, a study showed that when doctors told heart patients they will die if they don’t change their habits, only one in seven made a switch.

One in seven.

Apparently, change takes more than desire and motivation, even when it’s a matter of life and death. What else is needed?  

Coach’s Counsel

Perhaps Nick Sabin can help. Recently, the 17-year head coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide announced his retirement. With a career haul of 7 National Titles, Sabin is widely considered the greatest college football coach of all time.

Although he also owns the 5th highest win total, Sabin said his legacy and the team’s process of sustained success is what was most important to him, not the number of wins or losses.

And that’s the key – the process. Most people are just looking for a quick fix. They want something to “happen” that will magically change their lives with little to no effort. This “Lotto mentality” seeks a big hit that will flip the script. Unfortunately, big hits cannot sustain lasting change.

All About the Process

Change occurs when we commit to a process. It doesn’t happen in a day or perhaps even a season. Change involves trusting a process over time that includes accountability to those committed to help us grow.

I’m sure many of us would like to make a change in some area: engage in healthy habits, lose weight, grow spiritually, change harmful relational patterns, or find new employment, to name a few.

Hidden Hope

But even if we are super motivated, how will we beat 1 in 7 odds?

Here’s the hope in that study: one in seven heart patients really did change! It is possible!

Of course, it will take a well-designed process and loving accountability. For a strategy to create this kind of process, check out a recent post on “BIG Goals.”

But to make it stick, we need one more element. I’ll talk about that next week.

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Roger Ross

A native of Cambridge, Illinois, Roger has served as a pastor in Texas, the British Channel Island of Guernsey, and Illinois. While in Illinois, he led teams that planted two new churches and served for 10 years as senior pastor of First United Methodist Church of Springfield. It was his privilege to serve as the Director of Congregational Excellence in the Missouri Conference before coming into his current role as an executive coach and specialist with Spiritual Leadership, Inc. (SLI). His passions include SCUBA diving in warm blue water, playing board games with family and friends, and teaching evangelism and church planting as an adjunct professor at SMU’s Perkins School of Theology. He also has a weakness for golf.

Roger is the author of three books, “Meet The Goodpeople: Wesley’s 7 Ways to Share Faith,” “Come Back: Returning to the Life You Were Made For,” and “Come Back Participant Guide,” all through Abingdon Press. Roger is married to Leanne Klein Ross, and they have two adult children, Zach and Jane (who’s married to Sam).