You don't need a "Breakthrough" in 2017

As the year draws to an end and a new year begins, people begin to take an inventory of their life over the past year.  Many will simultaneously celebrate their successes, while quietly mulling over their failures.  They will continue to dream, plan, and will make new goals.  And more often than not, they will resolve their commitment to accomplish the things they failed at this past year, and the year before that, and the year before that, and the year before that.

"...This year I will finally save $10,000; I will finally get a promotion at work; I will finally lose that extra 20 or 30 lbs I have hanging around my midsection; I will go back to school and finish my degree; I will finally overcome my addictions..."

And so the list goes on and on. 

And for some people who make such resolutions again and again, there is a sense of desperation forming.  They are growing sick and tired of being sick and tired about that "thing" in their life that is holding them back, and keeping them from being all that they believe God has created them to be. They are tired of dealing with the same challenge year after year, and never seeing any progress made. 

They feel stuck in a rut, and the more they linger in this rut, the more magical sounding ideas like experiencing a "breakthrough" begin to sound.   And as they make their New Year Resolutions, a foreboding sense of doom begins to cast a long shadow over their goals, causing a person to anticipate failure before they've even began their journey.

And knowing this is where a lot of people are at, an army of wannabe prophets, gurus, and multi-level marketing experts are more than willing to come along and help you fulfill those dreams and overcome your problems.  For a fee of course.  But they are willing to help just the same. 

These hucksters promise a whole new world is getting ready to open to you.  This year is going to be different!  If you just listen to them and do what they say, go to their seminar, attend their revival meeting, read their book, listen to their audio tape, hire them as your coach, and if necessary, walk on hot coals... then by God, you will be an overcomer and this will be your year of Jubilee! Your dog will love you again. Money will grow on trees in your back yard.  Women will flock to you.  Your waistline will shrink.  Other men will want to become like you.  And you'll finally arrive at that mythical "Next Level" that everyone is always talking about.

Stuff like this makes me want to pull my hair out. 

You are just as likely to experience a breakthrough following these guys as you are to solve your financial problems by playing the lottery.  You might win at this game, after all "somebody has to win," as every lotto junky knows well.  But more often than not, you are going to lose, and you will have nothing more to show for it than possibly a few extra books and tapes that collect dust on a shelf somewhere, while making their author fantastically rich, all while you continue to be stuck in the same old problem you always were stuck in.

What many fail to realize is that this "breakthrough" they are in search of is nothing more than a short-cut to success.  It's a form of a get-rich-quick scheme.  No hot handed healing revivalist is suddenly going to crack the skies of heaven for you by you attending their meeting.  There is no grandiose mystical moment that exists that will suddenly propel you to the place you are looking to go one day.  These guys are doing nothing more than peddling sugar, and once they leave town and the buzz wears off, you are going to come crashing down.         

Instead of searching for a breakthrough moment, what you really need to do is develop your character.  Proverbs 10:4 says that one of the reasons that some people are poor and some people are rich is because some men are lazy, and others diligently work with their hands.  And in my opinion, if you are looking for a breakthrough moment like the type they vaguely preach about on TV, then there is a good chance you have taken on a spiritually lazy attitude, and are as destined for poverty as someone who refuses to work. 

You want the quick fix and quick riches. You want to win the spiritual lottery.  You aren't at all interested in forming character.

Yes, good old fashioned character!  That is the true "key" to overcoming most of the things that are holding you back year after year.  It's the type of character that is forged by faithfully committing to something in the daily grind, and seeing it through to the end.  You need the character that is forged in the ups and downs of life, by facing hardships head on, and welcoming all life's difficulties and challenges as an opportunity to grow. 

I remember when I was in college that while I loved learning, I generally avoided subjects I knew I would struggle with.  You didn't catch me taking organic chemistry as a science elective.  However, in seminary I was forced to deal with the fact that I had to learn ancient Biblical Greek as part of my studies.  I dreaded the mere thought of it.  But, having no choice in the matter, I plunged myself into my Greek studies.  I constantly walked around with index cards in my back pocket, full of this week's vocabulary.  Whenever I had a down moment, I was studying those cards.  I brought them everywhere I went, be it at work, school, church, and even on dates.  I was constantly looking at them.  I didn't become an expert in Greek, but by the time I finished my language courses in school, I finished my year of studies with a solid "B+" letter grade. 

Studying Greek really stretched me as a person.  After learning to translate ancient Biblical Greek and passing my classes, I felt there wasn't anything in the world I couldn't learn.  For I had challenged myself intellectually more than I ever had up until that moment in my life.  I learned something completely foreign to me and just about everyone else, and I grew some new brain muscles in the process.  I experienced a genuine transformation of my character as a result.  New character had been forged in me.  And since that point in time, there isn't a subject matter that I've come across that I didn't feel I couldn't tackle.

Which was great.  Because it would not be long before I found myself no longer in seminary, but found myself studying business law and mortgage finance in school and at work.  And to this day, I don't think I could have learned and excelled in these areas, both academically and professionally, had I not first gone through the crucible of learning Greek in seminary.  But because I pressed through those challenges, I know in my heart of hearts that God brought me through those challenges and helped me grow as a person, and by faith, I am confident that should such future challenges arise, I will conquer them as well.  

For I know who God has made me to be as a person.  I know the stuff I am made of.

This is where the real "breakthrough" is at.  It comes, not by listening to some preacher, attending some conference, or performing some sort of circus act.  This "next level" type of stuff whereby you "smash the glass ceiling" only comes as a result of pressing on through challenges and enduring whatever it is you have to endure before you come out the other side.

No, pressing on through to the other side is never easy.  It's definitely easier said than done  And like any person, you may experience setbacks and failures along the way.  I received some low grades on some of my original Greek exams before I finally started hitting the high marks.  You may get knocked down in this process, but you get back up again, make some adjustments, and you keep pressing on anyway. 

The faithful person makes no excuses and doesn't quit.  They just keep going and going and going and going.  They may die a thousand times over in this process, but they always keep their hope on the power of Christ's resurrection to raise them back up. 

Faithful people have a different mindset.  It may sound cliché', but it's true.  Faithful people see stumbling blocks put in front of them simply as stepping stones that are going to help them get to where they need to be.  They know that whatever their task or goal is, by the grace of God they will complete it, and nothing is going to stop them from doing such, because they are going to do the hard thing, and they are going to press on every single day even if it kills them in the end.

Of course, none of this is ever any fun. 

Which is why people want to take the short-cut.  They would rather pay an exorbitant amount of money to some guru, and obtain the illusion of something a bit more magical.  They want to at least be entertained and made to feel "inspired" and to feel good about themselves.  They want to attend that "life changing" event, and tell all their friends about it.  But in this, they will continually fail, and never obtain that which they seek.

Real "life change" and "breakthrough" is a lot less exciting.  It doesn't sell books, and it doesn't pack auditoriums.  It's found by rolling up your sleeves, being diligent, doing the hard thing, and going to work day after day after day after day.

So this year if you are dreaming about finally overcoming some lingering issues in your life, stay away from the hucksters who want to offer you a short-cut to success.  Beware of them, as they are out in full force right now. 

Instead, set a goal, make some hard choices, and daily do whatever it is you need to do to be faithful to that goal, and to be faithful through the end.  And in doing such, you'll truly see the breakthrough that God has in store for your life. 

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