5 Steps for Becoming a More Loving Person

You’ve tried it over and over again. You want to show more grace. You want to be patient with people. Then, you get out into traffic, and somebody cuts you off. There goes patience out the window.

How do we become loving people who can endure the annoyances of life? In my last post, I explained five characteristics of real love. But how do we get there? Let me give you five steps for doing so.

1. Pray. Have you actually asked the God of the universe to make you into a loving person? God’s grace is available. The power of Christ’s resurrection is at work in this world. The Holy Spirit works love in our hearts. But God wants us to ask! Have you asked? The Apostle Paul said, “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight” (Philippians 1:9). Paul prayed that God would give the Philippian Christians more love and more insight into how to love well. And so should we.

2. Reflect on how you think about people. A lot of our reactions to people our automatic. We don’t understand well what we are really thinking. We need to examine our own thoughts and feelings. We can do this by journaling, praying, or talking with others.

To get you going in this, consider some of the following questions:

  • What do you think when people do something you disagree with?
  • When you see people on the street, what do you think of them?
  • When you meet new people, what is your thought about them?
  • What do you think and feel when people disappoint you?
  • What sort of expectations do you have for what people should do for you?

These and many other questions like them can help you think through how you view people. When you do that, you can take the next step.

3. Re-think how you view people. In Paul’s love chapter in Romans 12, he tells us that we need to be “transformed by the renewing of your mind” (v. 2). He teaches us that love begins in the heart. It needs to be sincere. How we think and feel about people is what is in our heart. What do we actually see when we see other people? Do we see them as God sees them? We have to think about what is going on in our hearts and minds and be transformed.

Here are a few ideas to get you going on re-thinking your view of people.

  • What do I think human beings are?
  • What do I think the possibility of connecting with people is?
  • What are some ways I could view people’s attacks that would make me less reactive?
  • How could I view the fact that people are different in a good way?
  • When people block my goals, can I view this in ways other than an attack?

You can use these directions to begin to re-think your conception of people.

4. Put new thoughts into practice. It’s not enough to think about things. We have to put them into practice. For me, I noticed that my anxiety would go up when I wasn’t achieving a goal. Then, I would often be short or terse with people. I recognized that this is not how I wanted to live. I drive Uber. I often have a vision of how it will work out. Regularly, a wrench is thrown into my plan. Sometimes, it is because of the unwitting action of my customers. For example, they may change their trip and make it less profitable for me. They are not trying to do me harm. They are just trying to figure it out. But this can make me upset, and I can show it in subtle ways. I have begun to practice not getting upset at this and just responding with kindness. This practice will have effects in other areas of my life.

5. Keep doing it. Perseverance is key. Character does not change in a day or a night. Even big and sudden breakthroughs take time to transform our thoughts and hearts. We have to keep going. Being a loving persons is one of the highest and most important goals we can achieve. It is worth working at it. We should keep praying, keep re-thinking, and keep practicing. This is how character and virtue develop.

That’s the method for character change. There’s no better time to start working on it than now. It is our destiny to be transformed into loving people. That’s what God is doing in this world. It is one of his highest priorities. That should motivate us to give ourselves to this work and keep at it. With His help, we can expect real progress in this life.

Thank you for reading this series on love. I hope it was a blessing to you. If you liked it, please consider sharing it and subscribing below. I hope to see you here again soon.

If It Seems Too Good to Be True, It Is

Keeping Sane & Productive in an Insane World, Principle # 6: If It Seems Too Good to Be True, It Is

Growth in skills, acquiring wealth, building relationships, and growing in character all take time, and there is no substitute. But we often want it all without the work, and there are many people who will promise rapid shortcuts.

A few years ago, we were looking for a car. My Dad found a Toyota CRV with low mileage and in great condition. They wanted only $2,000. The person, the ad claimed, was moving to another country to serve as a missionary and simply wanted to get rid of it. It seemed too good to be true, and it was. They wanted money up front without giving us the car. It was a scam.

Experiences like that have multiplied because of the internet and social media. For that, I developed a basic rule: “If something seems too good to be true, it is.”

One of the most common experiences on the internet is the romance scam. Thousands of people give thousands of dollars to criminal organizations that pretend to be a person who loves you and is attracted to you. If you are a 60 something person, don’t believe that a 30 something knock-out with a lot of money is randomly interested in you. If something seems too good to be true, it is.

We all want the quick fix. But most things in life do not happen like that. Most things that are valuable require a lot of work over a long period of time. That’s why it’s much better to get to work than to look for an easy way out. As Henry Wadsowrth Longfellow put it, “Art is long, and time is fleeting . . .”

Now, one thing that does seem too good to be true but is actually true is God’s offer of grace and forgiveness. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). This is something God offers us freely, and it does seem too good to be true. But it is true.

But many people make a mistake based on this. They think that because the Christian life is rooted in God’s grace that therefore it is free from effort. Not so. We read in the letter of James, “Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience” (1:3). The Christian life involves much suffering designed to grow us in character.

The Christian life also involves effort. “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue . . .” says Saint Peter (2 Pet. 1:5). It takes a lot of diligence. Other versions say, “make every effort.” It’s work to develop character, even in the context of the grace of God. God can change us by a miracle, but most change involves a combination of God’s grace, challenging circumstances, and effort on our part.

When I was a teenager, I started to take a real interest in foreign languages. I was fascinated with communicating in other ways. From time to time, people would come up to me and ask, “What’s the secret to learning a foreign language?”

I would always answer the same, “Hard work.” It doesn’t matter what you do to learn, you just have to work at it . . . a lot.

And that’s how most things are. So, if it seems too good to be true, assume that it is. Give up on the quick fix. Embrace the long but extremely rewarding grind to sanity, growth, relationships, and productivity. It’s the long path and the sure path.


Photo by Mathieu Stern on Unsplash

Keeping Sane and Productive in an Insane World, Principle #1: Don’t say, “I can’t do that.” Say, “I can’t do that today.”

Principle #1: Don’t say, “I can’t do that.” Say, “I can’t do that today.”

It’s easy to look at hard things and say, “I can’t do that.” That’s only partly true. You can’t do that today. But there are many things that you can’t do today that you could do if you worked at them over a period of time.

Many of the things that we admire in others are things that they worked at for a long time. Obviously, certain people’s bodies are better built for professional football than others, but those who become pro football players have put in thousands of hours of work to get there.

Whether it’s playing an instrument, speaking a foreign language, delivering a speech, writing a book, or running a marathon, these skills take time to develop. You may not be able to run a marathon today, but you could run one if you worked on it over a long period of time.

What is true in the area of physical skills is also true in relationships. You may not feel like you are good at connecting with people. However, you can work at it. You relate better to people. For example, you may think that your relationship with your child is not good. Say instead: it’s not good today, but it can be better in the future, if I work at it. Continue reading “Keeping Sane and Productive in an Insane World, Principle #1: Don’t say, “I can’t do that.” Say, “I can’t do that today.”

5 Steps to Grow in Faith, Hope, and Love for Greater Joy, Peace, and Hope

Key thought: when we grow in the characteristics of faith, hope, and love, we will have greater joy, peace, and hope. But how do we do it?

Over the past couple of months, I have explained that the book of Romans is a book that is designed to lead us to greater joy, peace, and hope. As Paul wrote, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (15:13). This was Paul’s prayer for what this letter would accomplish.

The key to growing in joy, peace, and hope was greater faith in what God had done in Christ to forgive us and will do to transform us. The key was greater hope in a brighter future for ourselves individually and for the world. The key was greater love that would love others better, even when it was hard. The key was growing in the virtues of faith, hope, and love.

Becoming people of greater faith, hope, and love is much harder to do than to say. So, how do we do it? I want to conclude this series on Romans with an explanation of how to grow in faith, hope, and love so we can feel greater joy, peace, and hope. I hope that this will serve as a guide for you to study and review the principles of this great letter to the Roman Christians. This advice is derived from what the Apostle Paul is doing in this letter.

If you want to read the rest of the series, you can read part 1 here, part 2 here, part 3 here, part 4 here, part 5 here, part 6 here, and part 7 here. You can read part 8 here.

How to Grow in Virtue
1. Pray specifically to grow in faith, hope, and love. This is what Paul is doing at the end of his letter in the blessing he declares over them. He is asking God to increase the faith of the Roman Christians. That’s what we should do. We have not because we ask not. Ask, and it will be given you. God delights to give us the gifts of greater faith and love. Pray specifically each day that God will give you faith, the gift that opens the door to all other gifts. Continue reading “5 Steps to Grow in Faith, Hope, and Love for Greater Joy, Peace, and Hope”

The Four Cardinal Virtues, Part 2: Fortitude & Temperance

The objects of virtue are defined by prudence and justice. By objects, I mean, the things we are to pursue, such as a relationship with God, a loving family, and scientific discovery. However, knowing what to do is not the same as being able to do it. There are many hardships and dangers in pursuing the best. This requires fortitude. There are many good things that distract us from the best. This requires temperance.

These are the four cardinal or principle virtues required in the excellent or virtuous person. Josef Pieper has written a helpful explanation of these four virtues for our time in consultation with ancient philosophy, Christian theology, and modern philosophers. In this post, I am considering his discussion of fortitude and temperance. You can read my post on prudence and justice here.

What are you willing to die for? This is the chief question of fortitude. It’s one every single one of us should consider. Preparing for death prepares us to live. As Josef Pieper says, “Fortitude that does not reach down into the depths of the willingness to die is spoiled at its root and devoid of effective power. . . . Readiness to die is therefore one of the foundations of Christian life” (117). This does not mean that death or suffering are valued in and of themselves. Pieper explains, “The brave man suffers injury not for its own sake, but rather as a means to preserve or to acquire a deeper more essential intactness” (119). The flip side is a desperate attempt to keep one’s life at all costs, “All neuroses seem to have as a common symptom an egocentric anxiety, a tense and self-centered concern for security, the inability to ‘let go’; in short, that kind of love for one’s own life that leads straight to the loss of life” (134). Consequently, careful consideration of what is worth living and dying for is at the root of our well-being. Continue reading “The Four Cardinal Virtues, Part 2: Fortitude & Temperance”