"Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you." (Romans 12:2, Msg)
What have you been thinking about this week, pastor?
Are you worried? Depressed? Thinking lustful thoughts?
One of the great psychological discoveries of the past century is that your thoughts control your actions. If you want to change the way you act, you must first change how you think.
Actually, thousands of years ago, Solomon pointed this out when he wrote, "Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts." (Prov.4:23, GN)
The Bible says our thoughts influence six areas of our lives:
MY INTERPRETATION INFLUENCES MY SITUATION
It's not what happens to me that matters as much as how I choose to see it. The way I react will determine whether the circumstance makes me better or bitter. I can view everything as an obstacle or an opportunity for growth - a stumbling block or a stepping stone. "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." (James 1:2-4, NIV)
MY IMPRESSIONS INFLUENCE MY DEPRESSIONS
In other words, my mind affects my moods, my thinking determines my feelings. If I'm feeling depressed, it's because I'm choosing to think depressing thoughts - about my work, family, or anything else. While you cannot always control a feeling, you CAN choose what you think about - which will control how you feel. "Hear me and answer me. My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught..." (Psalm 55:2, NIV)
MY BELIEFS INFLUENCE MY BEHAVIOR
We always act according to our beliefs - even when those ideas are false. For instance, as a child, if you believed a shadow in your bedroom at night was a monster, your body reacted in fear (adrenaline, sweat, etc.) even though it wasn't true. That's why it's so important to make sure you are operating on true information! Your convictions about yourself, about life, and about God influence your conduct. "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples." (John 8:31, NIV)
MY SELF-TALK INFLUENCES MY SELF-ESTEEM
You are constantly talking to yourself unconsciously. When you walk into a room full of strangers, what do you tend to think about yourself? To develop more confidence you're going to have to stop running yourself down! "As he thinks in his heart, so is he." (Proverbs 23:7, NKJV)
MY ATTITUDE INFLUENCES MY ABILITY
Winners expect to win. Your perception controls your performance. Mohammed Ali only lost two fights in his career. Before both of them, he said something that he hadn't said before other fights: "If I should lose this fight ...." "All things are possible to him who believes." (Mark 9:23, NKJV)
MY IMAGINATION INFLUENCES MY ASPIRATION
In other words, your dreams determine your destiny. To accomplish anything, you must first have a mission, a goal, a hope, a vision. "Without a vision the people perish." (Proverbs 29:18)
This article is used by permission from From Rick Warren's Ministry ToolBox, a free weekly e-newsletter for those in ministry. www.pastors.com.