Evaluating your wants & behaviors

Jim Graham - Contributing columnist

In my last two columns, we’ve been applying a Reality Therapy model (WDEP), developed by Robert Wubbolding, to choices we make in life, asking, “What do I really WANT?” and “What am I DOING to get what I want?”

Today we will explore the third step in that process: “How’s that working out for you?” – or the EVALUATION phase. (Next Friday, we’ll conclude with, “What’s your PLAN?”).

I ended last week’s column by quoting Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity: “Doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results!”

If you never heard that before, now you have, and that may be a good transition to evaluating your wants and the behaviors surrounding them. C

hances are, none of this would come up unless you have a certain anxiety or dissatisfaction with some aspect of your life – your work, your relationships, the achievement of your goals, your self-image, or the way you think others may perceive you.

If you are anxious in some area(s) of your life, go back to the “Want” phase and zero in on it until you can define it in a sentence: “I want…” I want a different job; I want to be a ______; I want to go to ______ Trade School/College/University; I want to go out with/even end up with ______; I want to stop being excluded from ______; I want to be seen as ______; or I [want to] believe [in Something], help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24).

Then go back to the “Doing” (behavior) phase and ask if you are doing anything at all to achieve what you now define in a simple way, OR if what you are doing is working.

This is the Evaluation process. If you are not really doing anything to get what you want, or what you are doing isn’t working, what can you do, or do differently?

Do it. If that doesn’t work, do something else until something works or you decide that what you want isn’t possible or right for you at the moment, maybe not at all.

Perhaps – to put it into the context of faith – you will realize that it isn’t what God wants for you anyway, as in, “Maybe Somebody’s trying to tell me something!”

Toward the end of the third year of my first pastorate, I started looking for another call, as we call a job in the Church. Resumes were circulated to a few churches, but nothing went beyond a few interviews.

Seeing an ad in a journal I read regularly for a chaplain intern position in the VA Hospital system, I began to evaluate if another pastorate was the call I should be listening for at the time, or could it be something else. So I sent in my bio and waited – and waited!

The call – literally a phone call — came about a month before the internship was to begin: Why hadn’t I responded to the invitation that had been sent by mail? I guess because I never received it.

After a day or so of evaluation, I said, “Yes.” And after a few more days of flurried activity, we were on our way to the VA Hospital in Bedford, Massachusetts, where there was waiting for me and two Roman Catholic priests not only a stipended internship, but a chance to earn a degree in Pastoral Counseling at a nearby seminary.

It was a life-changing experience for me. In addition to improving my pastoral care skills for two more pastorates, it qualified me to serve as a chaplain in two retirement communities and, later on, the freedom to say, “yes,” to another completely new position, teaching clergy finance for our church benefits plan.

What did I want? I thought I knew.

But evaluating what I needed to do, from time to time, to achieve what I thought I wanted, revealed to me that none of it was working, directing me to change what I wanted (what God wanted for me?), and leading to a joy-filled career and life of serving others in many different ways.

Could there be something for you out there that you never imagined but might learn to want for yourself and those you love? Could you dream an impossible dream and find it to be possible? Could you start over by evaluating an area of your life where you are experiencing anxiety or stress and find what God wants for you, defining a new desire and doing new things to achieve it?

What do you want? What can you do to get what you want?

Evaluate your wants and your actions, and next week we’ll ask, “What’s your Plan?”

Jim Graham is a retired Presbyterian minister.

This weekly column is provided to the News Journal on a monthly rotation basis by members of the Wilmington Area Ministerial Association.


Jim Graham

Contributing columnist