The Hard Way

Dr. John Townsend defines the Hard Way as “the habit of doing what is best, rather than what is comfortable, to achieve a worthwhile outcome.” The Hard Way requires more than just the bare minimum. It doesn’t promote shortcuts. It goes beyond self-centered thoughts and actions.

Choosing the Hard Way pays off even if it is initially more difficult, takes longer and requires more effort. The Hard Way builds character by fostering strong moral values, integrity and the tenacity to face life’s toughest challenges. The Hard Way promotes good habits that positively impact overall well-being. The Hard Way provides the opportunity to strengthen both physical and spiritual relationships by influencing people in a positive manner and living a life pleasing to God. Choosing the Hard Way ensures a greater probability of success in reaching aggressive goals and following dreams.

So what does choosing the Hard Way require?

  • Humility
  • Community
  • Responsibility
  • Honesty
  • Purpose

Humility is commonly misunderstood as a mandate to be inferior or not highly valued. Humility is really just knowing who we are and our limitations. We understand our strengths and weaknesses, and we are completely transparent about them without projecting ourselves as more or less than anyone else.

Community is relationship. We are not meant to be alone and shoulder the burdens of life by ourselves. But we are not entitled to throw our burdens on other people, either. Choosing the Hard Way means not treating people as need-meeting objects (known as objectification). It also means not being completely self-reliant and refusing to accept support and encouragement from other people.

Responsibility is taking ownership for our choices instead of blaming others. The Hard Way requires seeing beyond the present need or desire and delaying gratification, if needed.

Honesty requires awareness of our weaknesses so that we can address them in a constructive versus destructive manner. This means making the effort to quiet negative self-defeating thinking and replacing it with ways to grow from failure and disappointment. It also means not falling victim to denial, perfectionism, or narcissism. We face reality, we maintain an achievable realistic measure of performance, and we avoid being arrogant and selfish in an attempt to hide our flaws.

Purpose, knowing what it is and diligently following it, can be difficult. The Hard Way promotes setting and achieving progressively difficult goals and pursuing unlimited personal growth in line with our purpose.

If the principles behind the Hard Way are so simple, then why would anyone choose the Easy Way? The next blog in this series will address some areas that impact entitlement thinking and lead to choosing the Easy Way.

©, April 28, 2018


J. Townsend, The Entitlement Cure Finding Success In Doing Hard Things The Right Way, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2015. pp. 26-28; 53-68.

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