The mind, like any other part of our body, needs to be trained.
Posted by Chris Scott (Senior Leader Bridge Church)
We all know that positive and intentional change, whilst it is absolutely essential, is not always easy. When Paul says that transformation comes from ‘renewed thinking’ (Rom 12:2) he reveals a powerful truth that the greatest battleground for supremacy in your life and mine is in the mind. Win the battle between your ears, and you are pretty much assured of victory in just about every area of your life. But that’s a tall order sometimes. It’s easier said than done. Re-programming years or even decades of behavioural patterns and responses rarely happens overnight. Some of those attitudes, defaults, and mind-sets are so deeply ingrained into our psyche that it can take a lifetime of struggle to dig them out and replace them. If only we had a refresh button like the one we have on our laptops; one that we could just press and restart with all the junk cleared.
Not even a good dose of tongue talking, pentecostal, spirit filled, power prayer will guarantee a long-term sustainable change of mind. It can break something over your life of course, or kick-start a process of change, but still it must be backed up by developing new daily habits that will bring your life into alignment with Gods will. That prayer moment may be a powerful event in your life, but if it doesn’t take place in the context of a process it will not live long!
So how do we change the way we think? That’s a huge question and will take each of us a lifetime to truly fathom out, but here is one key principle that can help. Quit trying and start training. Why do we think we can just change the habits of a lifetime by ‘trying to be better’ or by will power alone? The mind is like any other part of our body and needs to be trained. If you asked me to run a marathon I could genuinely try with all my might but I won’t achieve it. My body’s is simply not conditioned to do that. Trying hard is admirable but inadequate! I must train my body to produce the change necessary for me to achieve my goal.
Paul says to his young protégé Timothy ‘Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly, for physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come’ 1 tim 4:7-8
Godliness does not come through will-power alone. Neither does it come by laying on of hands, or by a great preach, or by casting out demons! If you think it does, then here is your first important mindset change. Stop putting your hope in a one-off power encounter at a meeting somewhere, and start surrendering your attitudes, motives and thoughts to God on a daily basis. Change comes through the process of continual submission and dedication to Gods ways.
Training is a process. It brings change over a period of time. It’s gradual but progressive. Think about it. If you want to lose weight and look good for a big event, you don’t get on the treadmill the night before! You know you must start weeks or months beforehand. At times it will feel that you are not making any progress at all, but the truth is you are. Something is changing inside you every time you workout. It's the same spiritually. Each time you make a decision to obey God rather than your default which to serve self, it changes something in the way you think. Not matter how small that change appears to be. Repeat this enough times and your default responses will become recoded. Training produces change.
Whether it’s learning an instrument, preparing for a race, or more importantly growing in godliness there is no shortcut here. You have to commit to, and then trust the process! We all know that gold medals are not won on the track, but they are won at 5am every day on the training track, in the middle of winter when everyone else is tucked up in bed.
So put your spiritual trainers on. Fight the temptation to default to old ways of thinking, even in the small things, and trust that each time you do that, you build a stronger precedent for the next time you face that issue.
Go for it