The Single-Step Revolution

Go big or go home!

I love that motto. It sounds bold, fierce, and adventurous.

I’m an all or nothing kind of girl. If I’m in, I’m all in. If I can’t do it with excellence, I don’t see the point of doing it at all.

Sounds admirable, doesn’t it? Well, it sounds good but it doesn’t always play out that way. That’s the kind of thinking that becomes an obstacle to much of the growth and change I desire.


Take weight loss, for example. We’ve all approached New Year’s weight loss resolutions with a “go for the gusto” plan. We’ve thrown out all of the junk food, enrolled at a gym, stocked up on low-calorie dinners and drinks, and bought new scales that tell us everything from our weight to the tenth decimal point to the Ph factor of our shampoo.

This approach works for a week, or two, but by February, fast food wrappers litter the floor of our car and the scale lies broken on the ground outside the bathroom window.

I’ve worked with weight loss hopefuls who tell me that eating right is so confusing and complicated. They’ve tried the all-or-nothing approach time and again only to fail as often. What can they do? It’s hopeless.

So, I ask. “What is one thing you do that you know EVERY weight loss plan would say is wrong?”

Often, the answer is, “I drink sugar sodas or frozen mocha latte’s every day.”

Okay. I suggest. This week, don’t do that. Drink only water.

They squint at me with skepticism. Some get angry thinking I’m patronizing them. But those who try it find a difference in the scale at the end of the week.

They return for more. “Is there something else you’re doing that you know EVERY weight loss plan would say is wrong?”

“I eat fast food or pizza every day for at least one meal.”

“This week,” I suggest, “continue to drink only water and limit your fast food/pizza intake to only two days a week.”

Again, the scale goes down.

Next step, do you sit most of the time? Stand up and march during every TV commercial.

One change at a time, person after person begins to slowly grow into success. It’s not exciting or sexy or the makings of a Nike commercial. No one will buy my book titled “The Long, Slow Way to Lasting Weight Loss”, but it works.

Today I got to thinking, what if I employed this method to my spiritual life?

Often, I try to drink of the Holy Spirit like a clown sipping from a fire hose. My “go big or go home” attempts at living like Jesus often result in discouragement or spiritual burnout. I pout at God that I’m hopeless.

But if you spend enough time observing nature, you’ll notice that God’s idea of growth involves a slow, incremental process repeated over time.

Knowing how to change into the person Jesus wants you to be can feel as confusing and complicated as sorting out what healthy eating looks like. One week your moved by a sermon on reaching out to the poor. Next day on the radio, you’re impressed by a speaker on fasting and prayer. A friend gives you a book on 10 Ways to Tell Total Strangers They’re Going to Hell. Soon, you’re feeling overwhelmed.

What if we simply began to employ, one passage at a time, what we clearly know from God’s word?

What if we took one clear teaching a week and obeyed that teaching in our life at every opportunity?

“Do everything without arguing or complaining.” Philippians 2:14

“Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” Romans 12:13

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,” James 1: 19

“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” Matthew 5:44

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?” Matthew 6:25

I’m going to try it this week. I’m going to pick one of these commands and seek to live it every moment of the day. No great spiritual life overhaul, just simple obedience to one command.

We’re always looking for “the magic answer.” In weight loss, the human race chases every trend and fad but the boring, effective truth is that weight loss comes about by eating less and moving more. Goals are reached one simple change at a time.

Christians are often guilty of the same thing. We want to be closer to God so we chase religious experiences, we attend conferences and retreats, we download the hottest new podcast, and order a box of Christian how-to books.

I think the truth is quieter than that.

God whispers that if we love Him, we will keep His commands. He tells us in James 4: 7-8, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”

The most revolutionary portions of scripture are the clearest. Our problem is not that we don’t understand our faith, it’s that we don’t attempt to obey what we do understand.

Maybe a week is too much to attempt for some of us. I may need to try just one day of doing everything without grumbling or complaining. I daresay it won’t bring peace on earth but it sure will change the atmosphere of my own home!

What do you think, all of you all-or-nothing brothers and sisters. That approach to life has its place but there are many projects and revolutions that are best attempted one baby-step at a time.

Try it. Choose one clear passage of scripture to obey all day Saturday and Sunday. Let me know what God does through your single-step obedience.

Maybe it will start a revolution.

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    The Conversation

  1. You’re on! James 1:19 – “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” is my verse for the weekend. I’m quick to tell the kids to stop arguing or tattling and then easily frustrated and start fussing at them. This weekend, I will be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. I will be praying that it changes the atmosphere in our house, if only a little. Some days that little is just what we need! 🙂

  2. Anonymous says:

    I’m going to try one of your weight loss ideas (move around a little more, snack a little less) and one of our spiritual ideas: “Give thanks in everything for this is God’s will for you in Jesus Christ.” So thank you for the idea!

  3. Joanne Sher says:

    Such good stuff, Lori. Pondering.

  4. Jennie says:

    Thank you Lori. I have been an ‘all or nothing’ person in so many ways. And usually falling into the ‘nothing’ end of the scale from becoming overwhelmed and discouraged, as you brought out so well. I listen to so many voices, instead of listening to the one still, small voice that speaks to me in each day, hour, minute, and second, if I just listen. And then take that one, small step at a time.

  5. Holly says:

    “Often, I try to drink of the Holy Spirit like a clown sipping from a fire hose. My �go big or go home� attempts at living like Jesus often result in discouragement or spiritual burnout. I pout at God that I�m hopeless”—what a great word picture as well as hitting the nail straight on the head! You have a fabulous way of saying things I’ve heard before but in a way that I understand and can apply. I’ve been working (with my daughters) on Psalm 19:14.
    Thank you for being a “Cyber Titus 2” woman!

  6. Barb says:

    Great words of wisdom, Lori. I’d love to be an all or nothing person (emphasis on the all) but I’m not capable of it! I get less discouraged when I just keep plugging away at growth and remember that change can’t happen all at once.

  7. Wow! Guilty as charged! I had to learn the hard way not to diet, but to make incremental life-style changes. Bad dieting made me much fatter than I would have been otherwise. I push for the spiritual stuff too, often with the result of getting tired one discouraged. Today (well in the morning). I will try this. Thanks:)

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