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Self-Control: The Fine-Tuner

Self-Control: The Fine-Tuner

Within the chaos of these past few months, I’ve grown a little lazy. I’ve found myself struggling to focus as intensity surrounds me. I’ve watched more television than I normally do. With the gyms closed, exercise has taken a back seat. I’ve cooked a lot, but I’ve also baked a lot of sweets and eaten them in a state of bored restlessness. I’ve tried to walk my dog often, but now in the heat and humidity of midsummer, it’s a miserable prospect. I feel a little out of control and lack the inspiration to do more than the bare necessities of day-to-day life.

The inconveniences of the pandemic and of a world that just doesn’t feel “normal” have made me a little less interested in fine-tuning my aim for maturity in faith and a little more okay with just being okay.

I’m emotionally worn down and have noticed a reduced self-control. As y’all sit in the same world I do, it’s possible you too have felt yourself losing a grip on control. The thing is, not only does self-control keep us from sin, but lack of control prevents us from bettering ourselves and fine-tuning the other eight fruits of the spirit.

In these last few months, have you improved in demonstrating love, increasing joy, representing peace, practicing patience, showing kindness, remembering goodness, honoring faithfulness and growing in gentleness? Or, like me, do you find yourself coasting?

I’m continually surprised by how easy it is to lose focus on what is good and righteous in life. It is so easy to eat poorly, to let slander sneak into your conversation, to ease up on “being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit” (Ephesians 4:3 NASB). This is our lifelong effort—not something we arrive at and then sit back and nap. It doesn’t matter if we have been working out our love for God and others for 50 days or 50 years. We all need to pursue growth and to make the effort to walk in a manner worthy of our calling, wherever that calling will take us.

Regardless of where you are now or where you hope to be in two years, you need to firmly make the effort, to demonstrate self-control. Otherwise, you will slide out of focus.

I think there may always be a misconstrued idea that cross-cultural workers are more spiritual and have a better handle on things like the fruits of the spirit. They are not. They do not. Overseas workers can wrestle with a similar lack of control, especially during stressful transitions like the ones you may be facing in your life right now. It’s not the situation that brings growth, but your response to it. We only get better in our walk with Christ if we do the work required of us.

You will not be perfect if or when you get overseas. God’s grace will wash over you again and again as you fall and get up. However, your walk, your effort and your learning curve will be reduced to the amount of self-control you are willing to exercise—the same way your growth today depends on your discipline today.

Are you doing the work today? Discipline, desire, a fine-tuning of the fruits of the spirit, a humble attitude and a willingness to lean into God’s strength is how we get there. It’s all those things, along with a willingness to scrape your knees when you fall. God is gracious, He is kind and He is our help.

“Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.” Ephesians 4:1-6 NASB


Laura lives in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where she freelances in various capacities, leads worship at her church and hangs with her adorably photogenic dog named Kimchi. She’s well acquainted with the chaos of trying to determine what to do in life.

Laura went to Bible college, where she explored cross-cultural ministry through classes, conferences and lots of practical application. After college she went to grad school, taught, went to South Korea for a year, worked for Christar, then spent a good chunk of the last decade working with international students in high school and college in the U.S.

She would love to journey with you as you consider missions—because she’s been there. Because reaching the nations is going to look different than it did in centuries past. And she wants you to be a part of it. 

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