Have you ever had trouble getting a song out of your head?
It can easily happen after you’ve heard a few notes from your kids’ favorite Disney movie soundtrack. The same goes for the commercial with the catchy jingle or that overplayed song on the radio. Before you know it, you are humming along and then you can’t seem to stop what becomes an endless loop! You can drive yourself crazy!
If you can relate, then you probably understand what it feels like to get a particular thought stuck in your head. For Christian leaders, these thoughts are usually negative, take on a life of their own and most definitely hold leaders back.
I recently asked a group of ministry leaders to list the internal self-talk thoughts and mindsets that can hold leaders back. Here’s just a sampling:
- You’re in way over your head.
- You’re going to fail.
- You’re not as gifted as __________________.
- How do I keep ________________ happy?
- What will people think?
- It all depends on me.
- I’m afraid of ______________________.
- You’re alone in this, nobody cares and nobody can help.
- If only we had _______________ then we’d see God move and experience growth.
Do any of these “songs” or similar ones ever play in your head? If they do and you don’t quickly shut them down, then you and your leadership will pay a hefty price.
Your mind and what you think about matters. Actually, that’s a big understatement! Let me try again: Your mind really really really matters. A key action of the Greatest Commandment is to love God with all your mind (Mark 12:30). You are also called to not be “…conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2).
Here are two key steps to taking charge of the “songs” in your head and living out God’s desire for your mind:
1) Fix Your Eyes on God
When your thoughts dwell on yourself, others or your circumstances, you can quickly get into trouble. Instead, you and I need to “…throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2).
In fixing our eyes on Jesus, we are taking our mind off ourselves, others and our circumstances, and training our mind to focus on God. As Thomas Watson beautifully wrote long ago, “The first fruit of love is the musing of the mind upon God. He who is in love, his thoughts are ever upon the object…By this we may test our love to God. What are our thoughts most upon? Can we say we are ravished with delight when we think on God? Oh, how far are they from being lovers of God, who scarcely ever think of God!”
All of us need a bigger, clearer and fuller picture of the truth and magnitude of who God is. A central way to develop this picture is to cultivate relationship with God through Scripture. I’ve found each of these three ingredients critical:
- A clear plan for engaging God’s Word;
- A set aside place; and
- A pre-scheduled time to be in God’s Word each day.
2) Shut Down Unhealthy Soundtracks
You and I have both the choice and ability to shut down unhealthy soundtracks. As Dallas Willard writes in Renovation of the Heart, “The ultimate freedom we have as human beings is the power to select what we will allow our minds to dwell upon.”
This means that when an unhealthy soundtrack starts playing in your head, you need to shut it down. This is living out Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 10:5, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
Taking thoughts captive and making them obedient to Christ can start by prayerfully (and even verbally) rejecting the unhealthy or sinful thoughts. Call them what they are. Then change the mental channel by fixing your eyes on God and declaring specific truth. Seek to shut down the soundtrack as soon as possible. The longer you let the unhealthy soundtrack play, the harder it is to shut down.
Some closing reflection questions:
- What internal self-talk, thoughts and mindsets hold you back?
- How can you fix your focus more firmly on God?
- What soundtrack do you need to shut down?
Cheering you on,
PS. Do you need a tune-up in your leadership? If you long to sharpen your focus and go to the next level, Arrow’s new Leadership Tune-Up can help. This 90-minute one-to-one skype coaching session with a seasoned Arrow coach will provide you with a customized plan of action and practical tools to guide your growth in 2018. Learn more at: https://www.arrowleadership.org/tuneup