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Taking Control of Your Thoughts

Our mind is a powerful tool God gives us for ministry. But our thoughts can also hinder what God wants to do through us. The Bible has a lot to say about our thought life and how we can align it with the mind of Christ. 

These nine biblical principles will help you—and the people you lead—bring your thought life under control.

1. Our thoughts control our lives, but we can control our thoughts.

Proverbs 4:23 reminds us we have a choice of what we think about. “Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life” (NCV). 

Since you have a choice over what you think about, you don’t need to obsess over problems in your church. You don’t need to replay criticisms in your head. In fact, Paul instructs, “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise” (Philippians 4:8 NLT).

Nobody is forcing you to think about your fears, worries, and insecurities. You have a choice.

2. Change must start in our minds.

It’s tempting to think the changes you need to make are external—in your church, in your family, or in your behaviors. But change starts with your thoughts.

That’s why Paul says this in Romans 12:2: “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (NLT).

Your thoughts will either conform to the world around you or they will be transformed by God’s Word.

3. We can change our feelings by changing our thoughts.

Jonah did this in Jonah 2:7: “When I had lost all hope, I turned my thoughts once more to the Lord” (TLB). Ministry certainly includes days when we feel hopeless. But we can choose, like Jonah, to keep our thoughts on God.

Memorize Jonah 2:7. When I pastored, Monday mornings were always the toughest days of the week. Jonah 2:7 is a great verse to ponder over in those times. You have a choice in how you feel. Changing your thoughts is how you change your feelings.

4. Our behaviors are based on beliefs.

Whenever you do anything (whether good or bad), your actions are based on a belief. Think about any action in your life that you want to change. Ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?” When you discover the triggering thought, you’ll know the underlying belief.

You may discover that you’re acting on a wrong belief. That’s why Proverbs 14:15 says, “Fools will believe anything, but the wise think about what they do” (NCV). Don’t be a fool. Think about what you’re doing.

5. Anytime we sin, it’s based upon a lie.

Satan uses lies to tempt us to sin. He tells us that the sin won’t hurt us. He tells us we can handle it. He makes us doubt what God has clearly said in the Bible. Remember this: God will never lie. The Bible is always true.

Satan knows just the right bait to hook you with sin. Take some time to understand the lie you’re believing that’s manifesting itself in sin. When you can clearly see the deception for what it is, you can say no to it.

6. An unseen war is going on in our minds.

Every day we are at war. Sometimes we become so casual in our relationship with the Lord that we forget we have an enemy. Satan’s battleground is our minds. Paul describes this war in Romans 7:19: “I do not do the good things I want to do, but I do the bad things I do not want to do” (NCV).

The good news is, God has given us everything we need to win this war.

7. To win this battle, we’ll need God’s Word and his Spirit in us.

If you depend on your own strength to win the war, you’ll lose. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 10:3-4, “We do live in the world, but we do not fight in the same way the world fights. We fight with weapons that are different from those the world uses” (NCV).

God is the source of all truth. His Spirit and his Word set us free from sin.

8. Our goal is to learn to think like Jesus.

Jesus is the model for healthy, happy, and holy thinking. 1 Peter 4:1 says, “Since Jesus went through everything you’re going through and more, learn to think like him” (MSG). Jesus understands all the deceptions, fears, and difficulties you’re facing. Nothing surprises him. No matter what you’ve been through, you can learn to think like Jesus.

9. We need to repent by rethinking our life.

When they read the word repent, most people picture a guy on a street corner saying, “Turn or burn.” But the world’s concept of repentance is totally wrong. The word repent means “to change your mind.” When you align what you think about anything with what God thinks about it, you’re repenting. 

We all need to do this. We have the power to change our thoughts—and change our actions in the process. As we align our thoughts with the Word of God, we’ll begin to have the same mind as Jesus (Philippians 2:5), along with the life and ministry that God wants us to have.

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