The Power of 1%

Most of us look at change as the giant leap from where we are now to where we want to be—a transformation we make at full tilt, hurling ourselves over that gap and either sticking the landing or crashing and burning.

Usually it’s too big of a gap. It’s too impossible of a jump. We reach for the stars only to discover gravity has other plans for us.

What if you were just 1% better than you are now?

1% better at studying. 1% more consistent in your prayer life. 1% more focused on meditating. 1% more aligned with God.

It’s nothing to write home about. It’s not perfectly understanding the Bible in its original languages. It’s not having half-hour conversations with God every time you get on your knees. It’s not having your every thought in perfect harmony with the mind of God.

In a poll, 1% might represent a rounding error. In a study, 1% isn’t even statistically significant.

But it’s possible.

A 1% change is possible.

You can do that—today, right now. Study for five extra minutes. Study for one minute if you aren’t used to studying at all. Crack open a commentary, peek at an article on the subject. Nothing huge, nothing overwhelmingly different. Just a little different. Then do that with your prayers—1% more focused than you were last time, 1% more attentive to the words you’re saying and why you’re saying them. Do that with your meditation, do that with every single activity in your day that falls under the Christian umbrella, and I guarantee you, without the tiniest bit of uncertainty in my mind…

…that no one will notice.

At first.

A 1% change is so tiny that it’s almost imperceptible. If you’re walking in a straight line and you change your direction by 1%, that’s 3.6 degrees. That’s nothing.

At first.

But keep walking. And walking. And walking.

Don’t change anything else about your direction ever again, just keep walking in that new direction, and what happens?

The gap between where you would have been and where you are now gets wider…

And wider…

And wider with every extra step.

1%. Insignificant, until it isn’t.

I would love to be the guy who could wake up one morning, decide to implement a drastic, life-changing decision, and stick to it without faltering. Skip all the baby steps and just be a drastically better person because I decided I needed to be. But I’m not that guy.

I’m the guy whose grand plans fall apart when I realize they require a grander effort than I was prepared to make. Then I fall back to square one in a heap of exhaustion—or worse, end up doing even less than when I started trying, because I’m burnt out and feeling like a failure.

But 1%, I can do. You can do. And here’s the dirty like trick of it all: Staying at 1% would be enough to create some serious long-term change in our lives.

But we’re not going to stay at 1%. Because we can do better than that, too. Once we’ve gotten used to the next step, we can add 1% to our 1%. And then another 1% to that. And on and on and on.

It doesn’t sound like much, but what would your prayer life look like after a year of repeated 1% improvements?

A decade? Half a century? How would your relationship with God look if you spent 50 years making tiny improvement after tiny improvement in your Christian walk?

Pretty amazing, I suspect. But we can’t jump there. We can’t just leap from where we are now to where we want to be.

We have to walk. Step after step, percent after percent. None of it will seem significant in the moment, but it will when we get where we’re going and hear our Master’s voice:

“Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord” (Matthew 25:21).

Today is a good day to add a percent.

Until next time,

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