Before I began full-time ministry I spent over 12 years working part-time at a church while keeping some type of full-time job outside of the church to pay the bills and feed first myself and eventually, my ever-increasing family. I worked various jobs in over 10 different fields. One thing I noticed, however, was how the job at which I was working, at any given point in time, would transform my mind.
For example, when I worked at a retail department store selling men's clothing, I would notice the brands and styles that people around me were wearing. While at the wholesale tire warehouse, my eyes were constantly drawn to the tread patterns and sizes of the tires adorning the wheels in a parking lot. If they created a trivia game that covered the types of jobs I had, I would be champion of the world!
It doesn't stop there, either. When driving limos, I automatically picked out luxury cars, especially the stretched ones. After a short time hanging wallpaper, I could quickly identify mismatched patterns in the wall decor of friends' homes. After selling wholesale balloons, I could look at an inflated latex balloon and tell, by the color and drip patterns, who the manufacturer probably was.
I could go on boring you about filing systems and hydraulic cylinders and digital pagers and the finer points of packing and shipping, but few people in the world are given the grace for that kind of thing with which my wife is blessed. Suffice it to say that my eyes and ears and mind began to tune in on the kinds of things with which I associated on a regular basis.
Have you noticed the same thing about the jobs that you have held? How about the kind of car that you drive? Did you notice that right after purchasing your current vehicle you began to notice how many other cars of the same type there were on the road?
The fact is that the human mind will "tune in" on things that are familiar. This is why the word of God encourages us time and time again to discipline our minds and to put a guard on our eyes and ears. The things that we listen to, the images we put before our eyes, these will be the things that we will see and notice all of the time.
Most of us, when considering this issue of what to allow into our minds, will immediately think of music or television and movies or magazines and books. But what about the types of conversation we engage in, the attitudes of those with whom we choose to associate?
Are you stuck in negative thought patterns, always seeing the darker side of things? Are you held captive by fear, afraid of failure, of disappointment, of betrayal? Are you trapped in a rut of faithless expectation, your ears stopped to the encouraging voice of the Holy Spirit?
If so, how does one break out?
It can be a long and arduous process, but take heart, wounded warrior, it can be accomplished!
The Bible tells us in Romans 12:2. "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." You renew your mind by carefully choosing what things to feed it.
First of all, are you filling your mind with the Word of God?
The Bible talks about washing a believer with the water of the Word. When we take our Bibles and read the words, especially out loud, we find that those words are endued with power. Begin a regular, systematic reading of the Scriptures. Seek out solid Bible teaching, both at a Bible-believing church and during the week on Christian radio or via the Internet.
Second, look through your media inventory.
What types of music and movies are you taking in? What television shows are you watching? Do your media choices enhance an attitude of faith?
Third, what are the attitudes of the people with whom you associate?
Are you hanging around people of faith, people who take the promises of God seriously and expect them to come to pass? When you must be around negative people, do you influence them toward the positive or do you allow them to drag you down to their level of expectation?
By surrounding ourselves with a steady mental diet of uplifting and faith-filled input, supported on a foundation of regular exposure to scriptural truth, we can retrain our minds to "tune in" to the hand of God at work all around us.