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We will always make time for the things we love. Discipline around the things we dislike feels like a real chore. The secret is to find ways to love the things you hate.

When it comes to self-control, find a reason to not do it that is more powerful than the attraction of giving in. It is helpful to remember this (and talk it through with your mentee) as it can help you find a breakthrough for the things you need self-control with.

Let’s not forget that self-control is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. That means we get more of it in our lives not by force, but by drawing closer to God, allowing him to fill us with his character and Spirit to overflowing. But, like trees, the things God plants in us need constant watering, pruning and TLC, so practise self-control, encourage it and develop your strategies.

Discuss this story with your mentee. Two horses were tied together with a strong rope. Being stubborn, they strained in opposite directions to eat from buckets just out of reach. The more the grey horse pulled towards its bucket at the top of the field, the more the black one was pulled away from its bucket near the bottom and vice versa. Eventually, the grey began to win and munched greedily from its bucket. This gave her strength to keep pulling and the black horse could not make any progress. Over time, the black horse got weaker and weaker as the grey became stronger and healthier.

Place an open packet of crisps between you and your mentee. Say they are welcome to have a crisp, but if they don’t have one until the end of the session they can have them all. How hard is that? Are they good at restraining themselves? How well do they attempt ‘delayed gratification’?

Spend some time asking them how much they would give themselves out of ten for their self-control regarding the following areas (or think of your own that are more relevant to your mentee):

  • Spending money
  • Watching stuff they shouldn’t on TV
  • Spending regular time with God
  • Lust
  • Jealousy and negative thoughts about others
  • Negative thoughts about themselves or their body image
  • Swearing
  • Exercise
  • Homework

Chat through how to make this a higher score out of ten and pray about it. Write down a few things on paper as a prayer if you are meeting somewhere very public. Encourage them to stick the piece of paper to their mirror or above their bed.