This is a subject I think we all desire to be better at. Hopefully this principle can help along the way.
“For if self-control is yours, it renders you neither useless nor unfruitful.”
What a great concept. If we really think about what the lack of self-control can do to us, this principle makes a lot of sense. When we lose our self-control, in a sense, we become useless. We are slaves to our own desires, unable to control them. This is not profitable for us; it is not fruitful.
Self-control is not something specifically reserved for those “lack of willpower moments” when that delicious looking cake, or cookie, or favorite sweet is currently in front of you, calling your name. I will admit, those are hard moments to resist. Think about other areas in your life that can use greater self-control.
Personally, I am quick to speak my mind (as I have mentioned more than once in my past writings) without always thinking about how the words I use may impact others. It takes an immense amount of self-control to hold my tongue when I desire to say something. This is something I have to constantly practice. When I study this principle, I begin to realize that speaking every thought that comes to my mind makes me useless in a productive and engaging conversation. In turn, the conversation proves unfruitful not only for me, but for those involved as well.
Often times, it’s with our personal behaviors that we lack self-control. Some may not struggle with holding their tongue but may struggle with controlling their emotions. Or maybe it’s not emotions coming out, but their ability to concentrate on a particular task. It can certainly be in other things, such as exercise and eating habits. But the most damaging areas to both ourselves and others come from our inability to control our less productive behaviors.
This idea that we become useless and unfruitful can be applied to every area in which we lack self-control. And what a powerful idea! Who wants to be useless? Who wants to live an unfruitful life? If we associate uselessness and unfruitfulness with the lack of self-control, it can produce a greater desire to actually start controlling ourselves. If we don’t associate these two things, we don’t always understand what our lack of self-control does, making it easier to give in to the loss of control.
If our main focus is to “resist” an urge, all we think about in that moment is that urge! Instead, we should ask ourselves, how does giving in to this urge make me useless? How does giving in to this urge make me unfruitful? If we can get our minds to focus on the outcome instead of only on resisting the urge, we are more likely to actually maintain our self-control in the moment, making self-control easier.