By: Amy Streater

AT ONE TIME OR ANOTHER, all of us have faced the temptation to just give up. Making major life changes such as losing weight, transitioning into a better and more fulfilling career, improving your marriage, or getting control of your finances can seem incredibly difficult.

As a Financial Stewardship Pastor, I have found that people never have problems in just one area. Chaos in one corner of your life inevitably spreads into others. And trying to fix just one area doesn't work, so we give up. But, I am here to tell you that there is a way to make big changes that will stick. This method works whether you are trying to get out of debt, lose 20 pounds, or rekindle the flame in your marriage. These three key steps to long-term change work!

Step 1: Control Your Tongue

"Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks." Jesus' words (recorded in Matthew 12:34) are worth posting around your house. When you have doubt in your heart, you will speak words of doubt. When you have fear, anger, resentment, discouragement, regret, or grief in your heart, those are going to come out too. There are several ways to change the condition of your heart; such as spending time in God's Word, absorbing His promises, and engaging in praise and worship. But controlling your tongue is a powerful move. If you change your words, your heart will quickly follow.

Take a career change for example: If you are telling yourself that the career or promotion you want is out of your reach, you will likely find that to be true. And while I'm not a believer in mindless mantras, I have seen time and time again, when people start telling themselves that they can do something — and that they do deserve it — they are able to make it happen with God's help.

Instead of telling yourself, "I'm not capable," or "That could never happen to me," recite Philippians 4:13: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Then spend some time believing it.

Step 2: Identify the Lies

In my book, Your Money God's Way, I identify seven "counterfeit convictions" that keep even the most faithful Christians from having success with money. Things like making drastic life changes without a safety net, and then blaming God when things don't work out. We can't have an unrealistic outlook on life. Believing that everything will be okay — despite our unwise choices — is foolish.

Pinpoint the bad patterns in your life, and identify what wrong beliefs are leading you to choose those behaviors. For example, if you are constantly fighting with your husband, pray about why. Do you wrongly believe that if you calmly state your case, he won't listen? Are you afraid of losing him? — If you have struggled to lose weight, have you convinced yourself that the battle is just too hard? Have you decided that being overweight is just a part of who you are?

We all have conversations ticking through our heads, and many of those self- talks are lies. No matter how long it takes, detect and replace those lies with truth.

Step 3: Take Realistic Steps

The things we need to change can rarely be fixed quickly. You're not going to lose 50 pounds this month (at least not in a healthy way!), or repair 10 years of marital bickering overnight, or pay off $30,000 in credit card debt before your birthday. But you can start the process.

After making positive changes in the way you speak, and exchanging lies for truth, identify positive changes that you can make today.

  • Today you can join a gym, or take an hour-long hike with your dog.
  • Today you can make an appointment with a financial coach.
  • Today you can polish your resume, and look online for employment opportunities.
  • Today you can plan a romantic evening, and let you and your husband enjoy each other's company.

Start with what you can do today, and tomorrow tackle what you can do tomorrow. Day by day, choice by choice, change comes. Incremental steps are key! You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. Take one step at a time ... and never, ever give up. c