One of the things I repeatedly find myself struggling with is consistency. This struggle often makes me feel incapable and discouraged. This morning while meditating on this struggle, I thought about some things that caused me to look at my struggle differently. My new perspective has reassured me that I am capable of being consistent and encouraged me to not give up. In this article, I’ll share those thoughts with you.
The Need To See Immediate Results
As I meditated this morning, the first thing that came to mind was that my lack of consistency seems to come from not seeing my desired results immediately. As you probably know, this falls under the greater challenge we all face of immediate gratification. We want to see the immediate results of any actions we take. But as with any worthwhile pursuit, it takes time to see results. Although I knew and constantly heard that success doesn’t come overnight, I continued to have this unrealistic sense that I should be further ahead than I was.
I got a fresh realization that it actually takes faith to be consistent with anything that doesn’t give immediate results. Just like a farmer plants a seed and waters the ground time after time before seeing any sign of growth, we have to have the faith that in time our efforts will produce results. I further recognized that just like fruits come in a particular season, the fruits our efforts come in a particular season. And so it’s natural to experience times where nothing is going on, but likewise, there comes a time when something is.
Define What Consistency Is For You
The other thing that occurred to me as I thought about consistency was that to be consistent implies that there must be some sort of definition of what consistency is. For example, in order for someone to say I consistently attend church, it means that there is a certain number of services that they go to that they considered to be consistent. The significance of this is that consistency looks different to different people. To one person exercising consistently may mean working out every day, to another, it may mean working out 3 times a week.
This realization encouraged me because each person’s definition is based on their values and circumstances. We may compare our consistency in an activity to another person’s and mistakenly conclude that we aren’t consistent. This happened to me many times. In one particular instance, I repeatedly heard a motivational speaker refer to the number of books he read each month. Without fully realizing it, I held myself to the same standard. As a result, I felt discouraged whenever I’d go a week without reading the amount to meet the same quantity although it would have been unrealistic for me. Maybe the speaker is self-employed and reading is a part of his workday. I, on the other hand, have to squeeze it in after work. Who knows?
With this same realization, you may feel a little better about your consistency struggles, but it’s important to take it a step further and define what consistent means to you. Looking at your values and circumstances make a decision on what you can realistically achieve and hold yourself to that. As your values or circumstances change, adjust that definition accordingly. Another way to think of it is, if deep down you know you’re doing your best, then that’s all you can do. This leads me to a closely related point.
We Are All Consistent
When we talk about being consistent, we usually think about a specific thing we are struggling to be consistent with. But if you take a step back and look at what consistency is in general, you’ll see that we are all consistent with many things. We consistently bath, eat, sleep, go to work (some of us – haha), among other things. We take for granted how consistent we already are.
So give yourself some credit for how consistent you’ve been! While you may feel like you are not consistently reading, that time is consistently spent helping your kids with homework. You may feel like you could be spending more time praying and meditating, but instead, you’re consistently spending time with your spouse. At the end of the day, keep the bigger picture in mind and don’t be discouraged when you want to but can’t do more of something when you’re doing something else that’s important as well.
What Does The Bible Say About Consistency?
When I was meditating on the struggle of being consistent, I read a few verses of The Bible that influenced my thoughts. The one that stood out most was:
“ Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”Galatians 6:9 (NIV)
This verse shows us that in time we would reap the reward of the work we do and so we shouldn’t get tired of working. The fact that we could get tired implies that the reward isn’t instant, it takes a while. Furthermore, we only reap it if we don’t give up. As I mentioned earlier, like the farmer, we have to keep watering although we don’t see anything happening. If we stop, we could lose out on what we put in all that initial work for.
Paul in 1 Corinthians 15 talks about a wonderful mystery that believers will experience at the end of life as we know it and so in the last verse he encourages us by saying:
“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”1 Corinthians 15:58 (NIV)
Of the many important things we should be consistent with, one is the Lord’s work. Although we may not see some of the rewards from doing his work in this life, we are reminded that it is not done in vain.
So, if you were struggling with being consistent, I hope this article encouraged you by helping you see your struggle from a new perspective. The greatest take away is to define what consistency means for you and not let other people’s definitions discourage you. In time, you’ll receive a reward from your efforts if you don’t give up.