I can remember being in the 2nd and 3rd grade and my teacher grading my behavior and even some assignments in class with a VS, S, or a NI. VS stood for Very Satisfactory, S stood for Satisfactory, and NI stood for Needs Improvement. Unfortunately, I can also remember receiving that NI grade more times than I care to recall. Have you ever received that grade? Or maybe you’ve recently taken a survey concerning a service and you were asked to rate your experience. Perhaps you chose the Needs Improvement option on a few aspects of that service. Maybe you didn’t necessarily think it was bad service, you just saw areas that needed improvement. Well, sometimes in our own lives if we take an honest look at ourselves, we can see these Need Improvement areas. This is not a bad thing and it’s actually good to notice these areas in our lives. Today we will talk about looking at our own lives, noticing the Need Improvement areas, and making the necessary changes to improve our grades.
Its okay when after taking an honest look at ourselves, we sometimes get that Needs Improvement grade. I believe we all have areas where we would like to improve. Whether it’s our attitude, finances, purity, or our relationship with God, being in the Needs Improvement stage is nothing to be ashamed of. It can actually be a great blessing. When we recognize that we need improvement in certain areas of our lives, it gives us a great point of reference as to where we are and where we want to be. This is critical in our own development because if we don’t see these areas, we may not seek to become better at all. So noticing these areas in our lives is actually a great discovery. Though at times it may get us down if we let it, we should use these discoveries as a kind of motivation and springboard to propel us to become the men we were created to be.
Truthfully, the only negative thing that can happen when we realize we need improvement is making the decision to do nothing about it. When we see area’s in our lives where we are lacking and then do nothing about it, we are settling for defeat and irresponsibility in our lives. This is not how we are designed and created to live. We have an amazing ability to contemplate ourselves and see where our actions will lead us. If you know who and what you desire to be, and you see obstacles within your own character and person that are standing in your way, you should take the necessary steps to eliminate and overcome these obstacles.
Now it can be very tempting to settle for less than we know we should be. Sometimes the thoughts of, “I’m not good enough, I can’t do any better, or I can’t change” can come and attempt to bring us down and stop our progress. Even in the midst of such thoughts, we can’t afford to give into this temptation. Giving in can mean the death of who we can become. We need to do what Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 10:5, we should be “… casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” What this is saying is that we should rebuke and cast away any thoughts that are contrary to what God says and what he has placed on our hearts. When we do this, we can then meditate and focus on the destiny God has for us, becoming the men we destined to be.
So if your area of improvement involves dealing with your own selfishness, well then, don’t just throw in the towel and settle for being selfish. Learn how to be selfless. If it’s financial problems, well then, don’t just settle for being broke. Get around someone who has honorably overcome financial problems and learn from them. If you need improvement in your work ethic, in your relationships with your friends, or in your marriage, don’t just settle for the problems and throw in the towel, get around and learn from people who have succeeded in the areas where you need help and growth. You may be surprised that most people who are successful in the areas where you are lacking are usually more than happy to offer their assistance in helping you out.
This is the key in learning how to turn a needs improvement grade into a blessing. We must make the decision not to settle for an NI score, but take the necessary steps to improve.
You see there is no shame in this; the only shame is when we know we need help, but refuse to get it. When we notice areas in our own selves that need growth and progress but ignore them, we are beginning to make room for regrets in our lives. Regrets in the form of outcomes and circumstances that we could have changed if we would have taken action earlier. Regrets are sometimes hard to live with, especially if we have the power to prevent them. However, when we take on the task, refusing to just ignore these areas when they arise, we are in a sense minimizing if not eliminating any room for regret in our lives.
Now this “self improvement” if you like, can be very tough, but it’s worth it. Think about it, you’re working on the most important and priceless item you own and the only one you truly control, yourself! Don’t fall into the temptation to settle for less than you know you should be. Where do you think the desire or realization that we need to improve comes from? If you don’t know I’ll tell you, it comes from God himself! He wouldn’t allow you to see and notice these area’s in your life without giving you the tools to improve. Dare to realize and believe that you can become all that you were created and destined to be. “For with God, all things are possible” Mark 10:27.