- Podcast Player
- About Me
Try Three Times
I like the word "Try." I think it has gotten a bad wrap over the years. But if you are talking about genuine effort to achieve something, whether you succeed or fail, the diligence to try is noble and God sees that! But sometimes we try things, good things, one time and then give up on them. In this episode we look at the psychology behind effort, and discuss why it will take at least three tries to properly access the value of something. We don't mean it will become a habit that quickly. We mean you'll have a clearer and more reliable ability to determine if it is worth while to pursue it as a habit. You can "try" this with things related to Faith, Finance, Friendships and Fitness. Tune in today to learn more!
Okay, so today's show title is pretty straightforward. There's no imagery associated with it. We are literally suggesting that a major key to getting into something new and seeing measurable differences is being willing to try something three times. So we will be breaking down what that looks like today. I'm going to be asking you early on, not late in the episode, but early on to do a little project on your own. To write a few things down so that you'll know exactly what to try this week. But before we dig in on all of that, I feel like we need to talk about the word Try for a minute. It's almost as if people look at that word negatively, like it's a failure waiting to happen. Everybody's walking around in their best Yoda voice from the Empire Strikes Back: "Do or do not. There is no try". By the way, that was not even a Yoda attempt, but that is what he told Luke Skywalker.
I've heard sermons, titled sermons, preachers telling people that Christianity is not about trying. You either do it or you do not do it. I'm here to tell you I do not buy in on practically any of that. I believe that the Bible looks very positively towards effort, towards showing some diligence, striving to get better. You may succeed. You may fail. You may need to modify that. Maybe you should have chosen what you wanted to do differently or more wisely. It doesn't mean that your effort was without value or a failure or something. It means you tried. You made an effort, you gave it a go, and I look at that as a very positive thing. In fact, I have some biblical standpoint for this. There's this really cool word that's used a handful of times in the New Testament. I'm going to give you the Greek pronunciation.
Don't worry about digging in on this, but it's Strong's Number 4704 if you want to take a look at it on your own. It's pronounced spoododzo, which is actually really fun to say. I recommend right now wherever you are, you say the word spoododzo. Now it's used in second Timothy and Titus, and translated in the new American standard version: "make every effort." "Make every effort to come to me soon". He didn't say do it. He said, try to do it. Do everything you can to make that happen. I think that's a very noble thing. What's really interesting is that same word is used in the book of Hebrews and translated into the phrase, "be diligent". I don't think somebody would say, "don't be diligent: either it or don't do it". No, you're going to just apply yourself. Make every effort. The real problem with the word try is that people say they're going to try and then they don't.
They say, oh, I'll try, but they don't really mean it. If you mean it, then I think you're going to find it useful today. So if you know of something in your life that God approves and that has the potential to make you a better, stronger Christian, make an effort, be diligent, give it a go three times, not just one time, and then pass some judgment on it and that's what we really mean. You cannot assess the value of an action; you cannot determine if you should continue in that or make a change in that until you have done it three times. Before we get into that and how it works, let's go ahead and make our list. I told you that there would be an assignment for you a little earlier on than usual. You might remember going way back to episode one, Just Get Better, at the end.
You were asked to make a couple of lists, two or three lists, things that you're doing better, things that you want to do better, things that you're not doing and it's time to start doing, that kind of thing. Well, what I want to ask you to do now is somewhat similar to that. I want you to come up with four things that you want to do this week. Now, I'm going to give you some categories. If you remember the episode that we did, Four Fold Excellence, we break down our progress into four categories. Your faith, your finances, your friendships, and your fitness. Those are the four categories. So here's what we need you to do and you can do it mentally or jot it down somewhere. If you're listening to this Monday morning when it's launched, perfect opportunity. Maybe you can write it in your journal or something or just make, like I said, a mental note.
But pick one thing this week about your faith that you are willing to try in order to get better. Maybe it's become a regular bible reader or student every day. Maybe it has to do with being at worship on Wednesday night. Pick something in your faith that you're willing to try this week. Do that for all four categories. In the context of your finances: what are some discipline decisions you're willing to try this week? Maybe you're going to pack a lunch this week so you can save a little extra money or you're going to give a little more to the Lord on Sunday by design. Do the same thing with your friendships. Don't pick a bunch of things. Just pick one person or a small group of people and decide this week what I want to try is I want to send a text to a different friend to encourage them every day.
Or I want to take somebody from our church out to coffee or to lunch to find out how they're doing. Pick something that will make you a more valuable friend to the people that you treasure in life. And then lastly is good old fashion fitness, which could be, you know, I'm just going to get a yoga class in Tuesday night up at the Y or I'm going to get out there for 30 minutes and go for a jog. Just write something down or mentally note one thing in each category and decide these are things you're going to try and remember what we mean by try. We mean make an effort, make every effort, be diligent, really give this a go. Okay, so let me get into some of the psychological impacts of this. If you try something one time, really give it a go and then immediately assess if it's good for you or not, if you should continue it or not, you're liable to make the wrong decision.
Trying something one time is not the proper sample size. Here's why: we often enter that one thing with expectations. I expect how long I should be able to run. I expect what a day at the zoo with my kids is going to be like. I have this expectation of how it's going to go and here's what happens almost every time: how it actually goes is completely different than your expectations and sometimes that's a positive. Sometimes your expectations were very low and you went in thinking it wasn't going to do much good and you came out just feeling amazing about it, which also on a one time occurrence is not actually that reliable of an emotion, but most of the time it goes the other way. You come out disappointed or you didn't structure your time well, it just didn't go well. I'll give you a couple of examples.
I've been running now on and off for about 90-95 days, something like that. On that very first day I thought, I'm going to try it. I haven't run in years. I'm going out there and I'm just going to run about a mile and then maybe walk a couple of miles, it should be great. Well, it didn't take me long to figure out that I could not run them out. I think I literally ran like 0.2 miles or something and my legs were itchy and somebody had stabbed me in the side or something and I was in trouble. So for me that first experience wasn't very good because I expected it to go one way and it just didn't measure up. I mentioned to you about taking the kids out. Maybe you decide to be Super Dad and you're going to take the kids to the zoo or something and you have all these expectations and you get there and it's just nothing like you thought it was going to be.
All of a sudden, every kid under the age of eight needs to be held all the time when they get near the lion's cage. I don't know, whatever the point is, the expectations in reality cannot align on the first try. I'll go ahead and give you another one. We mentioned Bible reading. Maybe you decide I'm going to read the Bible in the mornings and study it. So you set aside 15 minutes and you realize that was not near enough time. You barely got into scripture, barely scratched the surface, but you had to go, so it was kind of a disappointing outcome because you didn't get to do it the way you wanted to do it. Well, what's the secret then, do you just give up? Do you say "No, that's it. Not going to study the Bible. I tried and it didn't work out"? No, you come back on the second time or the second day and you try again, except this time...
Think about all of the things that are different this time, what you expect it to be and how you expect it to go and how long it will take. You've got all of that settled in, so go back through all three of those same things. The next day when I went out to run again, I knew I was only going to be able to run a certain distance, so I figured that in. I thought, you know what, I'll just go out there and I'll jog a quarter mile and then I'll walk and maybe I'll throw in a couple of extra jogs. Just want to get out there and give it an honest go and it went a whole lot better. I mean everything kind of matched up. You decide, you know what, next week I'm going to take the kids to the zoo again, except this time I'm bringing the double stroller.
I don't care how old that second kid is. You're better prepared. You know what it's like and you do it. Same thing with Bible reading. You come back that next day and you think, okay, I have to make an adjustment. Maybe I need to read a smaller section each day. Maybe I tried to read too much yesterday or maybe I need to carve out a little bit more time out of the one great hour just for the Bible read, but you made some adjustments and you go in and really for me, for me in the things that I'm trying to do better in all four of the categories, finance, friendship, fitness and faith, it's really that second try. That's the true first try. When I start to get an honest assessment of whether or not this is something that's going to help me. Now you might say, okay, that's it.
I'll do it for two days and then I'll decide, well, you have to go at least one more day. Try three times whether you were successful or you failed. You made some adjustments the second day and now you're ready to see if you can get better. Remember the idea is what can I do that can make me better? So we combine a couple of things in scripture. On the one hand, we're good with the idea of try. We mean make every effort seems like it will be great for us. Be Diligent, really apply yourself. But we also remember that the goal, the goal in Philippians 3, the apostle Paul especially there in his spiritual walk and his relationship with Jesus: the goal is to press on, reach forward and get better. The prize was heaven. If he just got better than he would accomplish his goal and the Lord would give him very freely the prize.
So now you've got to figure out if you can get better. So that third try is actually kind of exciting. I get a little bit of anticipation going into it and it's very revealing. The first time was just feeling it out, almost doesn't even count. The second try was your baseline. Okay, got the Bible read in, took the kids to the zoo, got my 30 minutes of exercise. Now maybe for the Bible read the next morning. You try that similar approach again and you see if it really starts to grow in your heart. Now you're getting a little bit comfortable with it. Is this something that really has taken root and you'll feel it? You'll say, wait a minute, there's a spark to this. Now that I'm just beginning to get comfortable, I can feel it deepening within me and now you're ready to assess whether or not you should approach Bible reading that way.
Every day you take the kids back to the zoo that third week and you say, okay, I'm all prepared. I know what to expect now let's go and see if we enjoy it as much or we enjoyed it more. And so maybe you go and nobody enjoys it. It just, the euphoria is gone and the zoo is not the place to be wrangling kids. Well, you've assessed that very fairly after three trips and you can pick something else next time. On the other hand, maybe you had the best time ever except this time you're able to really go in and see the reptiles and read some of the literature and it starting to take off and become even more. You have to give it three tries before you know, this is what happened to me with the running, the first day was terrible. I almost gave up after the first day because I underachieved so dramatically, but the second time out I thought, okay, I've now established a baseline norm, so I think I waited maybe two days.
I did a little different kind of exercise that third day, played basketball with the kids or something and I went out that next day and I went to do the exact same thing but maybe push just a tinge harder and I did a little bit better slightly above the baseline that really it took two tries to establish and it felt really good. In fact, today, this morning I think I ran and look, not boasting here, there are so many guys who blow me away on this, but I think I ran my 15th 5K since I started this. I spread those out. A couple of them a week or something and I was able to track the time per mile and it has incrementally gotten better every single time for 15 runs. You want to know how that feels? That feels incredible. But it really wasn't until that third try that I knew if running was for me or I needed to pull out my son's bicycle and air up the tires and try something else.
And I'm really hoping that you will have this kind of an approach and this amount of discipline as this week unfolds. Now you guys know about habits. You have to make it easy and make it obvious. And even then, I think it takes around 60 days before something begins to feel natural for you. So when we're saying try it three times, we're not saying it locks in after that. We're saying that's the point when you can honestly assess it. And look, as we get to the end of this episode, I feel compelled to remind you about the value of journaling, and about how you utilize that one great hour, preferably in the morning. I've mentioned before, we're continuing to develop the Excel Still More journal. We're hoping to have that available to you within just a few weeks, maybe a little longer, but we're hoping, and in addition to having two pages there that you fill in each day with gratitude and affirmations and frogs, there will be two sheets there that covering the week and you'll go back and reference this sheet throughout the week. What it will have are the four categories where you write down something associated with faith that you did this week.
Something associated with fitness, something associated with friendship, and even something that has to do with the handling or utilizing of your finances. But you don't have to wait for that product to do this. You can write that down today, pray about that today. Write down some affirmations of how committed you are today. Try it that first time. Maybe it'll go amazing. Maybe it'll go horribly. We're not letting that first moment, that first day decided the outcome. Make adjustments on the second day. See if you feel that excitement of improvement on the third day and then go from there. Some of your greatest accomplishments in 2019, really incredible things that you took to the highest level may be tracked back to that week in April when you were willing to try it three times.
Kris Emerson, a loving husband, father of four, and gospel preacher, takes a few minutes to go over some important life changing and spirituals insights.
- How do I push past trying something just one time
- Why is a first attempt not a reliable source for determining the value of something
- How is a second attempt much more indicative of a project's value
- Why is the third try the most telling of all, in terms of growth potential
- How can you practically apply the three tries in your Christian walk