The Three Stages in Changing Your Life

“I’m so glad you joined us today,” my friend Rita said as service ended at Bridgepoint Church in St. Petersburg, Florida.

I was glad that I did, too. Pastor Tim’s words struck a chord with me, and with Rita.

“I needed to hear those words again,” she said, “I’ve been struggling with making some changes in my life.”

After Rita explained, I assured her that following Pastor Tim’s three stages would ultimately lead her to the change she wanted. It would help her live a life of greater abundance, and less stress. What Pastor Tim taught that morning was all about faith, but the parallels you can draw from faith to personal transformation of any kind are abundant.

Rita and I were attending church service with one of my best friends, Joel Marion. It is a modern church, where the pastor wears jeans and sandals, and the service is coordinated through the latest in high-tech gadgetry, including large video screens at the front of the church integrating powerpoint videos and social media updates.

Thanks to Joel’s daughter Lily, we arrived late and were seated in the front row. It is quite an experience. The service starts with two songs from the rocking in-house Christian rock band. Congregation members follow scripture readings through the Bible on their iPhones. It’s quite a contrast to the staid, dying old church that my mother attends back in Canada.

After the rock band intro, Pastor Tim appeared from behind the stage and launched into a 30-minute sermon punctuated with audience “Amens”, off-the-cuff jokes in response to the “Amens”, popular cultural references, and ample use of media tools.

I enjoy Pastor Tim’s sermons. If you watch his message, you’ll see that almost everything that he says applies to the concept of any Life Transformation. While Pastor Tim is encouraging congregation members to take up faith, my mission is to get people to take up physical and financial change. The end of Sunday’s sermon was dedicated to teaching people how to pray, and one could easily have subbed in the word ‘meditate’ for every point he made. It really makes for a wonderful learning experience and leaves me with several content generation ideas, as well as fires me up to change people’s lives.

It’s no wonder that Pastor Tim’s congregation has grown from 5 families meeting in a high school cafeteria back in 2005 to over 3,000 members today at two locations – and with three back-to-back Sunday services offered, along with two additional services later in the day. There are many lessons to learn from Bridgepoint…

…but the most interesting observation – and relevant to our personal growth was Pastor Tim’s description of the progression that takes place as one begins their journey of faith or Transformation of any kind.

We move from Desperation to Discipline to Passion“, he said.

When those words were put up on the big screen, they struck a deep chord with me.

We really do move in this 1-2-3 step system. Whether it is clients in my fitness business that begin frustrated with their stubborn fat loss, or me, as a young man, in near dire straits with anxiety, or a new believer searching out faith in God, or heck, even a busy executive seeking a new time management system, these 3 stages are common to the taking up of any new habit.

We often begin Transformation through Desperation. That’s what it takes you to get on the right track. That’s what it takes to get you to go from thinking about doing something to actually taking action.

From Desperation we develop new habits that deliver us from evil, and these habits become our disciplines. For the faithful, this means prayer and worship. You go to service every Sunday at precisely 10am. You do this for years. It’s your discipline.

In the fat loss world, you get up, you do your short, burst Home Workout videos with me, you eat your protein and fiber-rich meals, you drink your water, you get your results.

Eventually, what starts out as a hard habit to build becomes a hard habit to break, and finally, becomes your passion. You tell others about it. You become a leader in your family of faith or sphere of fitness. You lead Bible studies. You get Certified as a TT Trainer. Each of these are a reflection of discipline becoming Passion. You have entered Stage 3. It’s where you want to be in all of your Life Transformations.

As we stood outside Bridgeport after the service waiting for Joel to get Lily from the children’s Sunday School, Rita asked me about my Gratitude Journal, born of my Desperation to escape anxiety, then grew into a part of my Daily Discipline of thanksgiving, and finally, became a leading component of the Passion of living the ETR lifestyle.

“Well Rita,” I said, “First you list what you’re grateful for, and then all the people you appreciate. On the other side of the page you list your top five accomplishments for the day, and then you finish by reading the inspirational quote that I share for that day.”

“Oh, it sounds wonderful,” she said. “I tried something before, from that Secret movie, but it seemed too new age-y. This sounds more practical.”

“I’d love for you to try it,” I said. “I’ll make sure we get you one in the mail immediately. It really will change your life.”

Can I get an Amen?