We can’t afford to live without self-control. But, it seems to be in short supply these days.
People who lack self-control often respond in life by making unwise decisions. They end up hurting not only themselves but those around them.
Self-control requires discipline. We don’t always like the thought of discipline. It feels negative, dull, and prohibiting, but discipline and self-control are both necessary and healthy in our lives.
Here are three keys we can apply to your life to help achieve genuine self-control.
🔑 Key #1 Choose What You Want Most > What You Want Now
Self-Control is the ability to control your behaviors and desires in the face of temptation or impulses. Self-control is necessary to achieve what you want most.
What we want now has an immediate payoff. The mean text just sent or comment just posted feels good in the moment. That car we just bought that we can’t afford feels good at the moment.
We need to stop and think about what we want most in this life.
Chances are married couples want a marriage built on trust and intimacy. Parents strive for a good relationship with their kids. Or, like most people, we would say we want to be healthy in every way.
Here’s the thing about self-control; if we are like most people, our good attempt at self-control will fail miserably. Our willpower will eventually fail.
We’ve all experienced this to some extent or another. We say things like, “I’ll never react in anger that way again,” only to find ourselves right back there the next time we get angry. Or “I won’t yell at my kids like that again.” “I will never click on that again.” “I will never say that again, touch that again, visit that place, or react that way again.”
We try hard with all our willpower but eventually, our resolve runs out, and our sinful desires overpower us. How do we modify our behavior to create change?
🔑 Key #2 Your Identity Drives Actionable Change
Self-control doesn’t start with behavior modification; it begins with our identity or what we believe to be.
Our identity drives our actions, and our actions create results.
In his book Atomic Habits, James Clear said, "You are simply acting like the type of person you already believe yourself to be.”
When our identity drives our actions, our actions create actual results. Self-control starts with our identity.
Our identity is transformed when we put our trust in and give our life to Jesus.
In 2 Corinthians 5:17, the Apostle Paul said, “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”.
Here’s who God says we are:
- We are forgiven
- We are loved
- We are made new
- We can do all things
- We are free
🔑 Key #3 Rely on the Holy Spirit Daily
How do we live in the day-to-day with self-control? By walking in the Spirit. We let the Holy Spirit guide us. We yield to God’s control, follow his lead, get into his word, and talk to him. That’s how we walk.
Think about that. Walking is a continuous action. It is one step at a time. It’s not fast; we’re not running when we’re walking. Walking from one place to another may take time, it can even feel slow, but we’re still moving forward.
When God shows us the next right step to take, we need to take it.
And when we walk in the spirit, it makes us a better version of ourselves. It makes us foolproof. It produces good things in our life – things we call fruit.
Galatians 5:22 says, “But the Holy Spirit produces this fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Self-control isn’t easy. It can be challenging to achieve, but we can’t live without it! Write these three keys down in a place you will notice daily, and work to make them active thoughts in your daily walk. It just may change your life.
If you're interested in other content about self-control & wisdom, check out:
The Habit of Discipline
The Book of Proverbs: Bible Reading Plan
Where Do We Get Our Wisdom From?