How to Have Self-Control

Just. Can’t. Turn. Off. Tiktok.

As Corona-cation lingers on it gets harder and harder to have self-control and get anything done. Whether it is the temptation to turn on that next episode of your current Netflix binge or getting lost in a Tiktok time-warp, or, for me, the easy access of that fluff novel on my library app, in the middle of quarantine having the self-control necessary to take positive ground in your life feels just out of reach.

Two weeks ago I was taken down by a fluff novel or maybe four of them. I love them. Clean, light-hearted quick reads with some moral smugness are my weakness. I have zero guilt over the content. But then they take over my life. Yes, I can read them in two-days time, but I should not.

No real harm is done to anyone with my colossal waste of time, right?

Wrong.

God is asking me to write in this season. Specifically, I’m working on building a community around my writing. I’m trying to get my brain around the fact that from God’s perspective, someone needs to hear what I have to say. Which means, if I don’t write, whoever that someone is missed out.

I’m sure I’m not the only one. What sucks you into a time-warp? Whether it be YouTube or TikTok, Netflix or Hulu, Instagram or Snapchat, Sci-fi or Romance, we are susceptible to getting sucked into a destiny robbing worm-hole whenever we are stressed out, anxious or depressed. You are not alone.

Don’t be discouraged! Keep reading. By taking these few simple steps you’ll be able to move from couch-bound comatose to courageously walking into your calling. Making the better choice day after day will be quickly become second nature.

Admit you are wrong

But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
James 4:6-7 (ESV)

The first step toward self-control and freedom is admitting that your particular brand of wasting time is wrong. Of course there are times and season for rest, but I think you know, deep in your heart, when God is calling you to do something more.

When we are slow to obey for whatever reason (afraid, insecure, overwhelmed, self-pity), we are actually disobeying the call of God on our lives. If we have the humility to admit our sin, and say ‘yes’ to God, then we have the power to resist the temptation to keep vegging out.

Shift your perspective

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
2 Timothy 1:6-7 (ESV)

Just last week I got sucked into the reading vortex and desperately needed help to get out. In the back of my mind I could hear my childhood scripture memory verse ringing in my mind….”God did not give us a spirit of fear but of power and love and self-control.” Self-control. That’s what I needed.

I pulled out my computer to looked up the verse, this time reading it in context. The famous verse about self-control was written in the context of calling.

Paul is exhorting Timothy to remember his calling. Not just remember it, but to “fan into flame” or work hard at it. Paul describes Timothy’s calling as a GIFT of God. Calling is a GIFT given to us. All my theology on self-control got rearranged in that moment.

God gave us self-control because WE MATTER. Our purpose, our gift, our contribution to God’s kingdom is so important that God GAVE us what we need to fulfill it.

Because calling is a GIFT of God, it does not come from trying harder in our own strength. The self-control we need for our calling is not a manifestation of striving. Instead, self-control is a yieldedness to the gift already inside of us. It becomes an expression of agreement with our significance AND agreement with the power of God inside of us.

You do not have to muster self-control, you yield to it. It is your more true reality because of the Spirit of God in you. Doesn’t that give you courage?

Let the work be His burden

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
John 14:15 (ESV)

That perspective shift should take the burden of your calling off of your shoulders. That doesn’t mean there won’t be hard work involved. Yes, you’ll work hard. You’ll even be bad at your calling at first. But the weight of it is on God’s shoulders.

If you align your heart with what God says about you, your self-control and hard work flow from a place of fellowship with and identity in God. You’ll be able to work hard from a posture of rest because your spirit is no longer in contention with God’s.

Even with this shift of perspective, there will still be days when you get sucked into a Tiktok time-warp, a movie marathon or you yield to YouTube. Your response on these days are the most important part of you journey to greater self-control.

Try Again

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;[b]
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23 (ESV)

If you find yourself buried under your covers not wanting to get out of bed, or mindlessly playing video games until the wee hours of the morning, the quicker you can admit you are wrong and remind yourself that God has called you and empowered you, the faster you will rebound back into that powerful place of agreement.

You matter. Someone will miss out if you don’t do our part.

When you fail, fight the temptation to spiral into self-hatred and self-sabotage. Repent. God forgives you willingly and completely. After all, God’s mercies are new every morning. Receive His forgiveness then stand in the reality of His mercy. Get up and get going again. Draw on the Spirit He’s put inside of you to fan your gifts into flame.

Agree with God

For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.
2 Corinthians 1:20 (ESV)

I realize I’ve written on this verse before but I love the way it communicates our partnership with God. God’s call, God’s promises are “yes” in Him. They are His burden to bear. But we have a part to play too. Our job is to utter our “amen.”

Amen is an expression of agreement. We must agree with God over His call on our lives. It is hard work to agree with God specifically when it it means agreeing with God about us.

You might not struggle with believing that God exists or even that He is good. Your biggest struggle may be that God wants to use you.⠀

Our faith, or agreement, need not be in ourselves. Our faith can still be fully centered on God and His character. The shift we need to make is one of residency. God’s residency. He is not some being who sits far on in heaven. God resides in us, through the Holy Spirit. Our job is to agree and lean into His power within us.

Turn off the Tiktok

Once you admit you are wrong and shift your perspective it is time to take action. Turn off the Tiktok (or YouTube or Netflix or Xbox or Kindle or…).

True Holy Spirit conviction will point out our error with clarity AND give us hope for the future. Clarity on your error combined with self-hatred, self-pity or hopelessness is condemnation, the work of the enemy. The key here is to receive the Holy Spirit’s conviction and His forgiveness. Then fight the enemy’s attack on your worth.

The whole point is that YOU MATTER. Our self-control stems directly from our sense of significance. Therefore if you feel conviction it is confirmation of your consequence. Don’t let the enemy dupe you into believing that conviction is a disqualification. It’s not. It’s an invitation.

Prayer

If you want to leave insignificance behind and have greater self-control in your life, please pray with me:

Dear Jesus,
I’ve been listening to the wrong voices. Will you please forgive me for listening to those lies? I was wrong. I was wrong to believe it didn’t matter if I got out of bed today. I was wrong to believe no one would be hurt if I wasted my time. I confess the sin of insignificance. It is a sin because it is in direct opposition to your truth. I receive your forgiveness and let it soak into my soul.

In Your Name, Jesus, I rebuke every lie of insignificance in my mind and heart. Enemy, You cannot lie to me any more. Be silent and be gone.

Please, Jesus, will you help me fan my gifts into flame? I need your help. Help me to see clearly what my contribution is meant to be. Help me to believe that I matter. Fuel my self-control with a revelation of what you think of me and my calling. And give me the grace to get up and believe again, day after day. Amen.

Please share this article with three friends who you want to keep you accountable to get up off the couch and get going! And of course, please send it to anyone who you think could use this encouragement.

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