Written by: Nathan Hill
I have noticed over the years that a specific character trait is found in diminished supply within our culture. Indeed, it has also been found in diminished supply in my own life. At first I thought that this trait might be linked to personality—perhaps some people can compensate for its lack by other aspects of their person. However, having observed my own life over the years as well as countless others that I have watched, I have come to realize that this aspect of character transcends personality and is necessary for all people. Though it might not be what you are imagining at this point, the character trait I am speaking of is consistency.
To be consistent at something is to do it regularly over a long period of time. There are rewards for consistency that cannot be obtained any other way. However, our culture values immediate results and therefore we have a tendency to quit before the fruit of consistency is fully grown.
To be fair, we are not terribly inconsistent with all things. I cannot think of anyone who does not consistently eat several times each day (assuming the availability of food). The vast majority of our culture does consistently lie down to sleep each night for varying amounts of time, and then we consistently rise in the morning once again. We consistently put gas in our automobiles when they warn us all too soon that they are running low, and we are so terribly consistent with checking and updating our statuses on social media.
We are consistent in these areas because the fruitlessness of inconsistency is readily evident. If we do not eat consistently we will quickly become ill and malnourished. If we do not consistently sleep we cannot function well the next day. If we do not consistency fill the gas tanks in our vehicles, they will not run. Finally, if we do not consistently update our Facebook profiles…well, I guess Mark Zuckerberg does not get paid. That’s not so bad I guess.
We are not consistent with things in our lives where the fruitlessness of inconsistency is not readily evident. Stated another way, when the payoff for consistency is very far down the road, we often stop short of consistency. Our spiritual life falls into this category. We can get by today without prayer and reading the Bible. For that matter, we can get by this week or this month without reading the Bible—Christians do this all the time. We can get by without ever joining small groups, without ever having spiritual friendships (those friends with whom we discuss spiritual things), and even without ever going to church regularly. (Side note: Did you know that regular church attendance today means 2 out of 4 Sundays…when did inconsistency begin masquerading as consistency?)
When we consistently get by in these inconsistent ways, we are accumulating an invisible debt that will demand to be paid with all the force of a tsunami some approaching day when we are least aware.
One of two things will happen when we get by consistently in these ways. When a crisis comes we have nothing to fall back on and we are swept over with fear, anxiety, guilt, stress, anger, fighting, broken relationships, and even death. One author said that when we walk through a winter season in life we must fall back upon our consistent spiritual routines and the deposits we have made through them. If there has been no consistent personal time with God and no consistent corporate time (being with the people of God) we have little recourse. The other thing that can happen when we are inconsistent spiritually is that we begin to really believe that we do not need church, people, or even faith at all. Rather, we believe that we are pretty good at taking care of ourselves. This belief yanks us away from faith and further out into the sea of loneliness and abandonment until we do not even know which way to run to reach dry land.
More than just our spirituality, this same threat of inconsistency plagues marriage, family, and sibling relationships as well.
Consistency—an oft forgotten character trait replaced but its more fun second cousin spontaneity. Consistency is not the enemy of a full, fun, abundant life. Rather, first be consistent in the things that matter and then watch John 10:10 come to life within your soul when so many others are being taken out by the tsunamis of life.