We learn how to relate to people simply by watching as we grow up. Then we pick up “techniques” to get what we want or have our way. You would be surprised even babies know how to manipulate parents to get what they wish through simple “crying .”It is because they find out that the crying “technique” brings their parents to oblige to their wants. So they repeat.
When we grow older, we learn even more techniques for staying social, making friends, and having a sense of belonging. Those who are good with these techniques tend to make more friends than others and succeed in social life.
However, though techniques certainly help, they cannot improve what is fundamentally missing: “Character”. Many self-help books provide quick-fix, get-rich-fast type of advice that works for a while but cannot bring lasting changes in human life because it is fundamentally about benefiting “you”. It is self-serving at its root. Unless this ultimate “motive” changes, there is no actual change.
In his best-selling book, “The 7 Habits of highly effective people”, author Stephen covey said, “…if there is no permanent character strength, the challenges of life will cause true motivation to surface…”. For example, we know listening is vital in succeeding in human relationships. But listening techniques are not enough to have a healthy, lasting relationship. You can’t listen too long when your motive for listening is self-serving. Stephen says it requires “emotional strength” such as patience, openness and desire to understand, which fundamentally benefits “others.” Such emotional strength comes from character, not techniques.
Such character change takes a long time because it is a significant paradigm shift. It goes against our human nature that wants quick results. Then how do we work on our character?
Many experts will provide different solutions, but Bible describes this lasting change as the “fruit of the Spirit”. (Gal 5:22-23) As the name implies, it is a natural outcome, not forced through effort. When someone receives Jesus, and the Holy Spirit enters that person, he begins the work of renewal that produces patience, kindness, and love inside, which the person didn’t have before. Unless we see the need for help, we will resort to quick-fix techniques to have a better life, which does not last. Genuine change has to come “inside-out” and comes only from personal relationship with Jesus Christ because we experience transformation through the right connections, not acquiring new skills.