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"But a man must examine himself”
― The Apostle Paul

"Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.”
― Henry David Thoreau

"The unexamined life is not worth living.”
― Socrates


Have you ever done something and then wondered, “Why in the world did I do that?" Join the crowd! The apostle Paul wrote some words 2,000 years ago that you or I could have written.

“For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.”

Why do we do what we do? We always do what we are most MOTIVATED to do. Our motivations lift us to greatness, plunge us to ruin or condemn us to mediocrity.

SpiritualProgress Spiritual Assessments reveal our most powerful motivations. Our motivations define our character. Take an assessment and gain the insights to grow!


-   9 Provocative & Graphical Views of Your Character

-   Spiritual Analysis and Coaching Tips

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Discover how you assess in all three of the key motivations of Faith, Hope and Love, which are the essential to making spiritual progress. (Includes spiritual coaching tips and insights.)

The Bible is a mirror for our souls. SpiritualProgress self-assessments bring the reflections of many scriptures together to increase spiritual illumination. You might call it a large mirror array. What you see at the focal point of all this inspired truth is your character.

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No two people have the same spiritual needs. We use the results from your personal Spiritual Assessment to deliver content that is specifically designed to meet your spiritual growth needs. Align your heart with the activity of God’s Spirit. Focus on building the positive motivations of Faith, Hope and Love and watch your behaviors automatically change. Get a daily dose of God’s Word coupled with spiritual coaching and action steps so you can Live God’s Word DAILY!


Mankind was never designed to function without a Divine encounter every day. In the beginning God met with Adam and Eve every day. The Israelites picked up manna every day. Jesus taught us to pray “give us this day our daily bread.” The early church met from “house to house” every day. The soul needs daily food.

Why would we imagine that our spiritual lives could flourish without daily spiritual food? SpiritualProgress Growth Plans bring the life-changing power of the Bible to you every day, through computers, mobile devices and smart phone apps. Discover the power of daily inspiration coupled with spiritual coaching tips & spiritual exercises that you can do on the fly.

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Our content is based on your assessment results. The mix of Faith, Hope and Love building messages are customized to match your exact personal growth areas.

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It’s not quantity but frequency that makes the biggest impact on our spiritual progress. The Bible is like the manna of ancient Israel. Yesterday’s bread does not nourish our souls. Eat fresh!

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God’s Word is powerful! A very small amount can make a huge impact and define our entire day. Our messages are designed for busy living. They are around 3 minutes long, and are more than enough for a full spiritual meal. Chew all day!

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Spiritual progress is not about endlessly chasing bad behaviors. Chasing symptoms is exhausting and ineffective. Real progress requires that we experience growth on the level of our motivations. Enjoy a daily motivation power boost!

Messages that Change Your Life
It is not enough to be a hearer of the Word. We need to be doers. Each daily Growth Plan session concludes with a practical character exercise. This helps a person to “Live by the Word”.


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Our mission at is to partner with God’s Spirit and with you, to bring you the kind of quality content, messages and tools that can readily inspire your heart and empower positive growth in your life and in those around you.

God has great plans for your life!

He created you as a person of eternal destiny and Divine purpose. His Spirit is actively at work to bring you to your greatest spiritual potential.

Believe that God has more for you! Are you stuck in a rut? Do you feel empty and unfulfilled? Do you struggle with motivations that diminish the quality of your life?

Why can it be so hard to make spiritual progress? We live in a world that is filled with negative energy, which the Bible calls evil. People who generate negative spiritual energy and untrue messages surround us. This can result in spiritual paralysis. Take our FREE Spiritual Assessment and discover how SpiritualProgress can partner with you on your journey to become the best version of yourself.

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SpiritualProgress exists to help you achieve your spiritual potential. Leading Pastors, clinical psychologists and mentor leaders strongly endorse our unique framework for spiritual growth. We revive powerful principles that were taught by Jesus.


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Powerful Discoveries From
“Making Spiritual Progress”

Learn about your ”Behavioral Supply Chain” and discover “Why you do what you do.”

Find out about the Three Negative Motivations that diminish you and hold the world in its ferocious grip.

Discover the Three Positive Motivations that God uses to transform you into His image.

Explore your unique mix of Spiritual Motivations and try a Growth Plan that is Personalized just for you.

Learn how to cooperate with God’s strategy for human spiritual growth and development. Discover How God Grows People!

Building Your Life on Faith, Hope and Love,”
By Allen Ratta


Read the book that nationally known pastors and leaders are calling “groundbreaking” a “compelling framework for spiritual growth!”

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Video From Larry Osborne

A powerful endorsement from one of the nation’s leading pastors (10,000 in weekend attendance) and widely read author.

"Allen's insight will help you in what's a life long pursuit, growing. Read and continue the journey of developing. 'Making Spiritual Progress' is a book that will enlighten your path"

Johnny Hunt
— Pastor First Baptist Church Woodstock, GA
President of the Southern Baptist Convention from 2008-2010 and author

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List Price: $16     Early Order Price: $13.82 - Paperback: 224 pages - Publisher: InterVarsity Press Books

"I've known Allen Ratta for over 2 decades and can assure you Making Spiritual Progress is forged out of the heart of a pastor, the mind of a theologian, and the expertise of an engineer.  Instead of another book that makes you feel guilty over the lack of progress in your spiritual journey, this work will open up a whole new door and set you free to become God's best version of yourself."

  — Gene Appel, Senior Pastor Eastside Christian Church

"Where does true spiritual growth come from? Most of us spend time trying to fix our behaviors: we try to read our Bibles more, pray more, etc. While these are fine, Allen Ratta points out that they only focus on outward behaviors. What we need is something that will change us from the inside out, down to our very DNA. God doesn’t just want to change your behavior; he wants to change your character too. "Making Spiritual Progress" will help you to achieve spiritual growth."

  — Greg Surratt, Senior Pastor Seacoast Church and author of Ir-rev-rend

”Making Spiritual Progress is bold, but it is healing. Allen Ratta helps us discover what fuel we have in our tanks and how to switch fuels to Faith, Hope and Love. He unpacks each one to reveal God's original design. Then he gives us step-by-step guidance toward God's best. This is a book long overdue!

  — Wayne Cordeiro - Founder and Senior Pastor, New Hope Oahu

“I've often said that following Jesus is not about doing, it’s about being. Jesus didn't save me to do something. He saved me to be something. Allen Ratta captures the heart of this reality in this book. I'm excited about the freedom that many will find in discovering the powerful truths Allen unpacks!"

  ― Vance Pitman Senior Pastor, Hope Church Las Vegas, NV

“In a plethora of books about discipleship and spiritual formation Allen Ratta introduces a fresh approach that integrates both and focuses on the character outcomes of faith, hope and love. Instead of discipleship being the end game Allen demonstrates how discipleship is the means to the ultimate goal of developing our faith, strengthening our hope and increasing our love for God and others. Want to make progress in your spiritual journey? Read this book.”

  ― Jim Tomberlin Founder & Chief Strategist - MultiSite Solutions, Author of “125 Tips for Multisite Churches” and “Better Together: Making Church Mergers Work.”  

Refreshing! Unique! Practical! A wonderful book! A significant resource!
Making Spiritual Progress combined with the SpiritualProgress assessment is an invaluable resource that will help you make faith, hope and love a part of who you are and not just something that you do. His chapter on love alone is worth the price of the book and it will open your eyes to new ways to cultivate a life characterized by a rich, deep and Christ-like love. This book will be a sound investment in your spiritual life. It’s a resource you will return to, refer to your friends and read more than once.

  — Gary J. Oliver, Th.M., Ph.D. - clinical psychologist and theology professor
Executive Director of The Center for Relationship Enrichment and Professor of Psychology and Practical Theology at John Brown University, and author of over 20 books and over 300 professional and popular articles.

“Allen Ratta has remarkable insight into what it means to experience real and lasting spiritual transformation and the ability to lead people into it. His commitment to seeing people become their true selves is contagious. Read this book with an open heart and you will find there is no going back to a life without meaning and purpose.”

  — Terry Crist, D.Min., Senior Pastor, City of Grace, Phoenix and Author

With a beguiling simplicity, Allen weaves a story about our behaviors being determined by our character, and our character determined by our motivations and our motivations determined by ... At each point, he weaves Scripture and modern day stories to point us to a focused way of thinking and living.

  — David Fletcher Founder & Host XPastor

"Allen has knocked it out of the park! The Spiritual Progress model is so thoroughly Biblical that I'm instantly drawn to it and think you will be, too. This book is about understanding and managing our motivations. Motivations are the energies that propel us and drive the decisions we make. Understanding that there are behaviors that flow naturally out of our character is eye opening and life changing. Devour this book and live a Spirit-filled and Spirit-led life."

  ― Greg Atkinson Pastor, coach and Author of Strange Leadership.

Zeroing in on our hearts and motivations, Allen Ratta diagnoses the critical factors that often block our spiritual transformation—what keeps us from real change of character in who we are and what we do. He builds upon the biblical triad of “faith, hope and love” as the vital and dynamic “motivational fountainheads” from which we can live fully, freely and simply in our spiritual journeys—certainly, it is out of our hearts that the very issues of life flow! In this compelling volume you’ll find biblical and practical information to grow in grace and truth!

  ― Rich Guerra Superintendent SoCal Network

”New Song Church leads over a thousand people to Christ each year, so we are always on the look-out for quality discipleship materials. After reading the first three chapters of Allen's book I told our staff I had discovered a gold mine! Faith, hope, and love are the foundational virtues that grow a person in Christ. I hope every church and pastor will take a look at this material for their church.”

  — Hal Seed Senior Pastor – New Song Community Church Oceanside, CA

When a leader offers wisdom born out of personal experience we have a unique opportunity to listen and benefit, perhaps avoiding some of the challenges we might otherwise encounter. Allen Ratta offers such an opportunity in this work, and does so in an informed and engaging fashion. For the leader who recognizes that lifelong learning and growth are keys to leadership health and longevity, Allen’s insights are both helpful and encouraging.

  — Les Welk - Northwest Ministry Network Superintendent

Allen Ratta brings us an impassioned plea for character transformation in this awakening discourse of one's spiritual journey. Today's Church needs voices that will penetrate the very core of moral fiber, cultural analysis, and visionary development. Making Spiritual Progress causes the reader to look deeply within exposing the mysteries of Christ's gospel in and through each of us. This work is a paradigm shifting road to an encounter with Christ that changes hearts; changes lives; changes ministries.

  — Joseph S. Girdler Superintendent: Kentucky Ministry Network of the Assemblies of God

"Allen Ratta has a unique and effective grace to communicate insights regarding faith, hope and love. The truths he unveils will brighten the path for anyone – from parent to pastor – to receive and minister genuine transformation."

  — Kimberly Dirman Southwest District Supervisor (Foursquare)

"It was 30 years ago that I first heard Allen Ratta's thoughts on spiritual growth as they were in the embryonic stages. My first response was that these thoughts must be capsulated in written form, a book, to help believers and churches advance in their walk with God. Spiritual Progress is the culmination of Allen's life long pursuit of spiritual growth written through the lens of practicality, life experience as pastor, but most important the leading of the Holy Spirit. Thanks Allen for providing an in depth look into the journey every pastor, church, and believer in Christ must take into Faith, Hope, and Love in order to advance their 'spiritual growth!"

  — Gary Morefield Pastor, GV Christian Church - Henderson, Nevada

"God brings along gifted individuals who offer insights to ministry and our service to the kingdom. Allen Ratta is such a person! Having met Allen some 20 years ago, I was impressed with his dedication to God, his success in ministry and his willingness to share those insights through personal mentoring and inspired writing. 

I challenge you to read his newest book, Making Spiritual Progress. Personal and probing it will provide practical and applicable principles that will change your spiritual journey and give strength to fulfill your call."

  — James R. Braddy District Superintendent - Northern California/Nevada District, Assemblies of God

"Christian living is not about trying really hard to be good. It is about having the right heart, the right character, the right motives. We are changed from the inside out. Making Spiritual Progress is about changing our lives, starting with our motives. When we are motivated by faith hope, and love our behaviors will fall into line. Allen Ratta shows us how to change lives, starting with the heart."

  — Josh Hunt Author, Good Questions Have Groups Talking

Spiritual Progress assists individuals in refocusing their hearts, minds, and actions toward the Heart of the Father. By allowing individuals to identify their spiritual strengths, it empowers people to confidently walk in greater faith, hope, and love. Simultaneously, as growth areas are noted, people can intentionally grow, ensuring nothing will hold them back from their God Appointed destiny. Thanks to Spiritual Progress, our church community has greater faith, hope, love, accountability, and community.

  — Barry Sappington Lead Pastor - Crosspointe Life Church



Believe it or not, the Bible reveals the fact that God has a strategy for how He grows people. Learn how to put these strategies in place while you grow as a group. Gain the knowledge to manage the motivational forces that determine the makeup of your character.


Learn how to live a spiritually active life through practicing the spiritual exercises that have proven effective since the time of Christ. This is an interactive course where you will be doing spiritual exercises and reporting back to your group each week.



Generosity is the single greatest evidence of a Love-filled heart. “For God so LOVED the world that he GAVE…” Learn how to change your life and the lives of everyone around you through developing an extravagantly generous spirit.


Discover and learn to overcome the three destructive motivational forces that threaten to diminish the quality of life that God has intended for you. Overcome the habits and behaviors that weaken your spiritual walk.


This course is for couples but can be attended by individuals. Discover how the character traits (and underlying motivations) of you and your significant other impact your relationship in positive and negative ways. Gain more understanding and learn how to grow together.

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Supercharge Your Small Groups
Curriculum that Actually Generates Spiritual Growth small group curriculum is designed to cooperate with the activity of God’s Spirit. Each weekly lesson focuses on building the positive motivations of Faith, Hope and Love, which the Bible reveals is God’s strategy for spiritual growth. When our core motivations change our behaviors automatically change. Each week attendees have multiple opportunities for Learning, Being and Doing the truths and priorities of God’s Word.

THE HEAD – Growing in Faith

Aptitude – Learning about God’s character and God’s promises has a lot to do with growing in Faith. Faith is not blind. Understanding builds our Faith. Spiritual growth requires that we gain an operating knowledge of God’s Word so we are better able to trust God as we navigate life. Exposure to the Bible, over time fundamentally changes the way we think. Faith knows enough to trust in the character of God even when things go badly. It is a kind of spiritual knowing. Call it Spiritual Intelligence. The key objective in the 1st Area of Character Development is to help members of the group become more biblically literate and to help them to develop a Christian worldview, hence. “The HEAD.” A person’s Faith grows in proportion to how deeply rooted they are in God’s Word. Faith is one of the three key a motivational forces for victorious living.

“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” Rom. 10.17

THE HEART – Growing in Love

Attitude – Growing in Love has everything to do with the condition of our heart. A person can know the Bible backwards and forwards, but it won’t do them any good until its truths travel 18” from their HEAD to their HEART. The heart is the seat of our motivations. Our motivations are the reasons for “why we do what we do.” It is impossible to experience lasting positive change until we change the motivations of our heart. The 2nd Area of Character Development has to do with the condition of our HEART. We have to grow to the point where we embody the values of the Bible, not just believe in them. Love is one of the three key a motivational forces for victorious living. Call it “goodness under pressure.”

“The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.” Luke 6.45

THE HANDS – Growing in Hope

Action – Growing in Hope has a lot to do with understanding our personal life mission and the purposes for which God made us. Hope inspires us beyond the temporal attractions and pursuits of this life. All the spiritual knowledge and heart-felt fervor in the world is meaningless until we become a “doer” of God’s Word. Hope rejoices and labors within the eternal purposes of God. The 3rd Area of Character Development has to do with making a difference in the world. It really is impossible to have your HEAD and HEART in the game without also having your HANDS involved.

“For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. Phil. 2.13

Lasting spiritual progress always involves the three elements of spiritual understanding, spiritual passion and spiritual activity.

“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.”
- Mark 12.30

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
- Heb. 4.12


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Faith, Hope and Love. Three simple but profound words. They’re deep. They’re life changing. But let’s be honest. For anyone who has been a Christian for a long time, these three words are also so familiar they can become white noise, spiritual clichés—reduced to the level of meaningless Christianese.

That’s incredibly unfortunate, because Faith, Hope and Love aren’t Christian clichés. They’re the stuff of spiritual maturity: the ground floor, infrastructure and scaffolding that the Holy Spirit uses to make us more like Jesus.

In Making Spiritual Progress Allen Ratta digs deep into the important role that each of these three virtues plays in our spiritual growth. What the early church leaders called “cardinal virtues” he calls “motivational virtues.”

But this is not a book about willpower. It’s a book about alignment.

When it comes to spiritual progress, willpower won’t cut it. Our flesh can never do the work of the Spirit. Granted, with self-discipline we can make changes. We can tack on new behaviors and stop doing other behaviors. But those kinds of changes are exhausting—and almost always temporary. They’re hard to pull off and even harder to maintain. Worse, they can deceive us into thinking that we’ve actually changed ourselves on the inside, that a cosmetic change equals a heart change. It’s as if we’ve fastened fresh oranges onto a couple of tree stumps and started to believe that we’ve created an orange grove.

But what willpower can’t do, God will do. It all starts with what the Bible calls yielding to the Holy Spirit—aligning our motivations, values and thoughts with the Scriptures and the Spirit’s inner promptings.

The fact is, our behavior flows naturally and almost effortlessly out of our core motivations. We can’t help but live in light of them. That’s why whenever our actions seem to conflict with our values, it’s a telltale sign that our stated values and motivations are different than our core values and motivation. And it’s why spiritual transformation always begins with a renewed mind that realigns our thoughts, motivations and values with God’s will and Word.

And that’s where Faith, Hope and Love come in. They’re incredibly important foundational spiritual indicators. Whenever they’re absent or weak, we’ll end up living selfishly, making self-centered decisions that lead to spiritually destructive behavior and dire consequences. But as we grow in Faith, Hope and Love, we’ll end up living for Jesus and others, making Spirit-led decisions that lead to Spirit-led behavior resulting in the experience of God’s good, pleasing and perfect will.

That’s why Ratta claims that our personal spiritual progress can often be measured with one simple question: How am I growing in Faith, in Hope and in Love?

I believe he is right. The Spiritual Progress model fits so well with the biblical paradigm that it’s almost a priori obvious, once you step back and look at it. It makes you wonder, Why hadn't I seen that before?

As you read through this book, you’ll discover the motivational power that each of these three virtues has on our life, and how our response to each one impacts our spiritual progress for either good or bad.

You’ll also find that Ratta goes beyond mere theory. He offers practical steps that anyone can take. He helps us honestly access where we are in terms of Faith, Hope and Love, and he offers practical and biblical steps to help us grow in each area.

Whether your spiritual life is steadily moving forward, merely treading water or about to go under, I believe the insights in this book will help you to become more like Jesus. That’s because at the end of the day, any time we submit to God’s Word and more carefully realign our values and motivations with his, spiritual progress is inevitable. And any time we don’t, it’s impossible.

Larry Osborne
Author and Pastor, North Coast Church, Vista, CA

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Spiritual Assessment: Evaluating You Spiritual Progress - By Allen Ratta
(Contains Excerpts from Making Spiritual Progress: Building Your Life with Faith, Hope and Love By Allen Ratta)

The Bible attributes unique properties to Faith, Hope and Love. They are not like any other virtuous behavior in the Bible. They are the three positive, spiritual, motivational forces that influence our heart. A Faith-filled, Hope-filled and Love-filled heart acts in predictable ways. These “motivational” virtues are the fountainheads, the motivational sources, behind all of the virtuous behaviors mentioned in the Bible.

Do you want to behave differently? Then grow in Faith, Hope and Love. This truth is liberating. It frees us from the exhausting task of chasing symptoms. I can focus on three positive things instead of working on improving a myriad of good character traits.

What does this have to do with a spiritual assessment? It’s simple. A spiritual assessment analyzes a person’s symptoms and comes up with a diagnosis of their character. Their behaviors reveal where they are in the key motivations of Faith, Hope and Love. Let’s take a look, for example of the symptoms of Love as revealed in 1 Corinthians 13.

Defining the Primary Virtue of Love
Defined by
Symptomatic Virtues
Defined by
Symptomatic Evils
Patient Not jealous
Kind Not boastful
Rejoices with the truth Not prideful
Always protects Not rude
Always trusts Not self-seeking
Always hopes Not easily angered
Always perseveres Keeps no record of wrongs
  Does not delight in evil
  Never fails

There are large groupings of scriptures that have the power to show us how we look in the area of the motivational virtue of Love. The same is true about Faith and Hope. When these groupings of scripture verses are all gathered in one place they have the power to give us a more comprehensive picture of one’s character.

Do you want to know how loving you are? Think of combining the light of a great many mirrors of scripture aimed at your heart. The result is an intensely focused beam of light that penetrates deep into the soul. This is precisely the effect of a pastor’s sermon that brings several passages together to make a bigger impact of truth. The key difference is that an assessment can be far more comprehensive in its scope than is possible in a sermon. When you focus the scriptural spotlights of Faith, Hope and Love together, one clear image appears. It is your character.

This describes the process that was used, in over 20 years of careful study, which is the basis for the spiritual assessments at A large-array of scripture- mirrors is aligned to describe the character traits of Faith, Hope or Love. Biblical light is also gathered from the dark side. The scriptures tell us a great deal about evil behaviors and the motivations that drive them.

We catalogued all of these character traits from the Bible on good and evil and sorted them based on frequency and intensity. We then distilled them into a list of top traits that represent each primary motivation. Finally, we crafted a series of simple questions that empowers a person to make practical responses to the light of scripture. You indicate how much a character trait applies or does not apply to your life.

This is the basis for the patented online character assessments at When you answer the questions honestly, you are actually responding to a huge, widespread number of scriptures in the Bible. Taking an assessment allows one to see a new, comprehensive and biblically penetrating view of one’s self. Hundreds of early users describe them as highly accurate and life changing.

MAKING SPIRITUAL PROGRESS: Building Your Life With Faith, Hope And Love
By Allen Ratta – Published by InterVarsity Press; Nov. 2013
(Book Excerpt)

“Motivations are the energies that propel us and drive the decisions that we make. They are the substance of our character. All behaviors are the result of an underlying motivation. Motivations are the invisible, unstoppable forces that can lift us to greatness, plunge us to utter ruin or condemn us to mediocrity.

It is true that with enough willpower you may succeed in changing your outward conduct for a season. But if the underlying motivational condition of the heart stays the same, it will surely reassert its power. Pounds will return. Grades will lower. Spiritual vitality will wane.

Motivations are not to be confused with good intentions. Nor are they to be confused with will power. Our intentions, no matter how noble or determined, lack the driving force to transform our lives. The world would be a far different place if our wishes were effective at altering our behaviors.

How can we achieve our highest aspirations? Positive change automatically happens when our hearts are captivated and energized by the right motivation. The path to changing our actions begins when we take the time to understand the powerful motivational currents that reside, in many cases, just beneath the threshold of our conscious mind.

The Behavioral Supply Chain

Our actions do not occur in isolation. There are a number of sources at work that bring a behavior to fruition. Think of it like a can of beans on a store shelf. The beans did not magically arrive there one day. There was a long supply chain involved. Major investments were made to buy the seed, prepare the soil, plant the beans, water the soil, fertilize and harvest the beans. Then they were sent to a cannery. Finally, they entered a distribution network before they could finally arrive on your local grocery store shelf.

The same is true of our behaviors. They do not magically arrive on the scene one day. They have been “on the way” for a long time. The pipeline is full so they can show up at a moment’s notice. It is silly to blame circumstances or someone else for the way we act. The truth is that we have been incubating our behaviors for a long time. For the remainder of this chapter we will illustrate, one by one, the elements involved in our Behavioral Supply Chain. These are the factors that motivate us, “To do what we do.”

The First Rule of Personal Motivation – The Principle of Cause and Effect

Our behaviors flow naturally and effortlessly out of our character.

Cause and effect is uniformly embedded throughout creation. Jesus put a spotlight on it when He compared human nature to the natural world. “So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit.” Mt. 7.17-18

Your character, like the DNA of a tree, determines the nature of your fruit. The coding runs so deep that nothing can be done to change this cause and effect reality. Your character consists of a habitual mix and intensity of motivations. Your character sets the course for how you are going to conduct yourself as you move through life. This impact is illustrated below.

Our behaviors are pre-determined by our character.”

How can this insight help us? What do I need to know about my character to change my behaviors? There are three primary lessons that we can learn from observing the created nature of fruit trees.

1. Effortlessness
It is easy and natural to act out in ways that are consistent with the kind of person that you are on the inside. The words, “every good tree bears good fruit,” is a simple fact. There are no exceptions. Good behaviors flow effortlessly from good character. Apple trees never sweat trying to make apples. Their fruit is a natural consequence of who they are on the inside.

Think of all the anxiety, hard work and frustration people go through trying to change themselves from the outside in! Entire industries are built upon the desire that people have to transform their lives. Motivational speakers peddle their wares in front of the hopeful masses. All of this frenzied activity goes on in spite of the fact that “fruit changing” is a failed approach. There must be an easier way.

2. Consistency
It is senseless to expect a person to act consistently different from who they are on the inside. People inevitably act out in ways that expose the nature of their “tree.” Thorn bushes, no matter how hard they may try, can never produce apples.

Jesus drew a firm line in the sand when He said,“…nor can a bad tree produce good fruit.” If we stopped right here, things would appear hopeless for the bad tree. You are what you are! If you have bad motivations it produces bad character and your bad character will keep you behaving badly. We see this destructive cycle in the lives of people all around us. Is it possible for a person with bad character to change their fruit? Evidently not! But don’t give up hope. There is another way.

3. Tree Changing
Jesus established that it is impossible for bad character to produce good fruit but that is not the end of the story. Jesus revisits the tree metaphor, a few chapters later in the book of Matthew, and reveals a greater and incredibly liberating truth about human nature. “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit.” Mt. 12.33

“MAKE THE TREE!” What a concept! “Tree making” introduces an entirely new approach to personal growth. If you can’t change your fruit then change your tree! Having a “good tree” means that you will not have to worry about bad fruit. Good trees naturally produce good fruit. In this verse Jesus introduces the possibility for radical, transformational change. It begins on the inside and works its way outward into our relationships with our self and others.

Contrast this with every worldly method for self-improvement. They fixate on “fruit changing,” that is, changing your outward behaviors. The Creator calls this a colossal waste of time and energy. Transformation begins when we understand and obey the command, “Make the tree good…or make the tree bad…” Jesus leaves no room for any middle ground or He would have said, “Make the tree better.”

The words, “make the tree good” are some of the most hope-filled words in the Bible. The implications are mind-boggling! They mean that I can do far more than just change some of my behaviors. I can become an entirely new person! A thorn bush can become an apple tree. Jesus did not come to give you a better life but to give you a new life. We will explore in great detail, at a later point, how a person can make their tree good. The possibilities for personal growth have now become endless.”

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