A greater power than simply ‘trying harder’

By Dave Henning / June 19, 2017

“But for deeper change, I need a greater power than simply ‘trying harder’ can provide.”- John Ortberg

“Faith does not need to push the river because faith is able to trust that there is a river.  The river is flowing.  We are in it.”- Richard Rohr, contemplative Franciscan priest

In Chapter 6 (“Try Softer”) of The Me I Want to Be, John Ortberg tells of the first time he attended a yoga class with his wife.  He quips that yoga won’t catch on because they don’t keep score!  Thus, you can’t tell who’s winning!

John notes that the main activity involved stretching.  However, after the class, John remembers that the instructor never urged the participants to try harder.  In contrast, one must let go and allow gravity to do its work.  You permit another force to take over.

Therefore, as a general rule, Pastor Ortberg states, “the harder you work to control things, the more you lose control.”  Sometimes, though, trying harder helps- when engaging in physical activity, for example.  But, for deeper change, simply ‘trying harder’ provides little or no help.

As a result, trying harder focuses us on our own heroic efforts.  We grow judgmental.  Thus, John urges, seek to:

  • surrender your will for just this day
  • engage in little acts of service
  • enjoy your favorite ways of experiencing God’s presence
  • try to go thirty minutes without complaining
  • say something encouraging to three people in a row

In conclusion, when simply ‘trying harder’ fails, the author suggests that you try softer- better- different. Focus more on God’s goodness, less on your own efforts.

Today’s question: Following your vocation loss, how have you tried to push the river?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Something that requires an appreciation banquet”

About the author

Dave Henning

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