Why Behavior Modification Never Works Out The Way You Planned

We teach to see life change, but we get distracted by behavior change. 


Behavior change isn’t the enemy, it can be an indicator that change is taking place, but for the teacher it can be a distracting objective. Plus it’s not a completely accurate indicator. 

I spent my first few years in Student Ministry, where this is all too evident. Think of that perfect student, the one who dressed the right way, talked the right way, who had all the respect of their "church going" peers and adults. They behaved in all the right ways, until the went off to school. Then it all fell apart. It was as if they were a completely different person. 

They had “perfectly modified behaviors” but no life skills to help them make decisions in the future. We told them how to behave right now, but didn’t teach them how to make wise choices in the future. 

This change starts in how we teach (The Most Under Recognized Ingredient in a Powerful Message). It means we need to know how our topic applies to the lives of our audience. We need to know how they can specifically apply it to their lives. 

Changing your listener’s behavior, can give their “image” a nice shine, but giving you listener a new skill can last for a lifetime.

Instead of focusing on which behavior are you trying to change, focus on which problem you’re going to solve.

Teaching them how to apply scripture’s principles to their lives, to their relationships, to their careers, to their families is what helps them. Even better, instead of telling them what to do, dig into why it’s important to address this issue in their life. Why was Jesus talking about it? Why was Paul addressing it? Then give them an opportunity to make a decision. 

Life change starts with a choice. 

Life change is a personal thing. It’s an individuals choice. It’s our job to ask the question, it’s theirs to decide their answer. Do they see the need for this change in their life? 

A choice isn’t good enough. 

Just because you decide to loose weight doesn’t mean you have the tools to do so. You’ll need some new skills. We need to teach them how to see the problem and how to deal with it. 

Choice + skills — probably still isn’t enough.

To be honest, making a choice to change and having the “skills” to do so isn’t enough. The secret sauce is, and always has been, community. Life change happens in the context of relationships. 

Choice + skills + community. Now we’re ready for life change! 

Today's question: How do you measure life change as it relates to your teaching? Leave your response in the comments below or on Twitter.