What sort of ‘mindset’ do you have?
‘Mindset’ is a simple idea discovered by world-renowned psychologist Carol Dweck in decades of research on achievement and success. There is the ‘fixed’ mindset and the ‘growth’ mindset. The illustration below expresses the essential ideas of both mindsets:
In a ‘fixed’ mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success – without effort. Can this be right?? Whereas, in a ‘growth’ mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work – brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. Virtually all great people have had these qualities. Such a mindset can create motivation and productivity in the worlds of business, education, and sports. It enhances relationships.
I’m not a psychologist but I can see how having a growth mindset would lead to success, however you might define ‘success’ of course. Looking back over my life so far, I would probably say that I generally have a growth mindset but I have probably, at various stages, dipped in and out of the fixed mindset too. I’m not convinced that the two mindsets can be mutually exclusive. I think that sometimes we have to experience a fixed mindset in order attain living in the growth mindset. It’s an essential part of the journey, perhaps, in our personal growth? People cannot always be neatly fitted into a box. We are all unique and whilst we share many things in common as human beings, we are all also so very different even down to our unique finger prints.
What sort of ‘mindset’ we should develop as followers of Christ?
I’ve had to consider this question myself in recent weeks after facing a challenging few months on the job front and in having a sense of direction as to where God is leading me at the moment. There have been days when I have felt very much as though I am sinking into a fixed mindset (feeling like giving up, like a failure, why should I bother?) and then days when I feel very much entrenched in a growth mindset (this will take time and hard work, keep trying and don’t give up). The issue has been more that I haven’t remained in one or the other for very long but more switched between the two on almost a daily basis! (Much to the frustration of my husband, Dan, I’m sure!) Which is not good for anyone! But of course, If I admit defeat and give up, where will that get me? Therefore, I have to agree to keep going.
I guess the question is, how do we adopt the right mindset to keep going when we feel like we are failing or getting nowhere? How can we accept where we are and be positive enough to keep going? How can faith in Jesus Christ help us with our mindset? How can God’s word help us? So, in today’s blog I am going to explore what the Bible has to say about our mindset – our way of thinking and our opinions. I think that I would distinguish between two key thoughts regarding our mindset. Firstly, we need to focus our thoughts on God, his son Jesus Christ and His Word. Secondly, we need to have a mindset like that of Christ rather like the ‘W.W.J.D’ idea. For this reason I have decided to split this blog into two parts to explore them adequately.
Fixing our thoughts on God, Jesus Christ and His Word
“Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God?” Psalm 42:5
Depression is one of the most common mental/emotional illnesses. One antidote for depression is to meditate on the record of God’s goodness to his people. It can take our minds off of the present situation and give hope that it will improve. When we read God’s word we see how he delivered his people from all kinds of awful situations. Surely God will do it for us too? It can focus our thoughts on God’s ability to help us rather than on our inability to help ourselves. When we feel depressed, we can take advantage of this Psalm’s anti-depressant. We can read the Bible’s accounts of God’s goodness, and meditate on them.
“There is surely a future hope for you,
and your hope will not be cut off.” Proverbs 23:18
“For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.” Romans 8:24-27
Paul presents the idea that salvation is past, present and future. It is past because we were saved the moment we believed in Jesus Christ as saviour; our new life (eternal life) begins at that moment. It is present because we are being saved; this is the process of sanctification. But at the same time, we have not fully received all the benefits and blessings of salvation that will be ours when Christ’s new kingdom is completely established. That’s our future salvation. While we can be confident of our salvation, we still look ahead with hope and trust toward that complete change of body and personality that lies beyond this life, when we will be like Christ. As believers, we are not left to our own devices to cope with our problems. Even when we don’t know the right words to pray, the Holy Spirit prays with us and for us, and God answers. Trust that he will always do what is best.
“Find rest, O my soul, in God alone, my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, he is my fortress, I will not be shaken”. Psalm 62:5
I love that David was honest with God! He poured out his heart, his true feelings, to God, and then reaffirmed his faith. Prayer can release our tensions in times of emotional stress. Trusting God to be our rock, our salvation and our fortress can change our entire outlook on life. No longer do we need to be held captive by resentment towards others when they hurt us. When we are resting in God’s strength, nothing can shake us!
“May those who fear you rejoice when they see me, for I have put my hope in your word”. Psalm 119:74
God’s word makes us wise – wiser than our enemies and wiser than any teachers who ignore it. True wisdom goes beyond amassing knowledge, it is applying the knowledge in a life-changing way. Wisdom comes from allowing what God teaches us to guide us. The Bible is a light in our darkness, showing us the way ahead so we won’t stumble as we walk. It helps us to see a way clear and steer us on the right path. It reminds us of God’s promises to us. It reminds us of who we are in Christ, sons and daughters of the most high God! When we feel battered by life and feel like we are nothing, with self-esteem that is in the gutter, God reminds us how special we are, that He loves us with an ever-lasting love and that we have purpose for us to fulfill.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord,” plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”. Jeremiah 29:11
“but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint”. Isaiah 40:31
Hoping in the Lord is expecting that his promises of strength will help us to rise above life’s distractions and difficulties. Do we believe God loves and wants the best for us? Can we relax, confident that his purposes are right? Are we convinced that he has the power to control all of life – and our lives as well? Though our faith may be struggling or weak, accept his provisions and care for us.
“How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light”. Psalm 36: 7-9
Quite often, speaking from my own experiences only, when we do not have our mind fixed on God, we can easily feel defeated and battered by some of the situations we face in life. My life in recent months has been challenging but I know that there are others around me who I know are going through far worse. When I have felt defeated, I am reminded of the suffering and struggles of others, and I make a conscious effort to count my blessings, to focus on the good things in my life: a wonderful loving husband who is my best friend ever, three beautiful children who make me laugh on a daily basis, a roof over my head, clothes on my back and food in the cupboard, some wonderful friends and family. However, sometimes finding the good in bad situations can be hard can’t it?
God’s word coaches us in how to live victoriously. Victory comes from renewing our relationship with God. In Samuel 4:5-8 it says:
“When the ark of the Lord’s covenant came into the camp, all Israel raised such a great shout that the ground shook. Hearing the uproar, the Philistines asked, “What’s all this shouting in the Hebrew camp?”
When they learned that the ark of the Lord had come into the camp, the Philistines were afraid. “A god hascome into the camp,” they said. “Oh no! Nothing like this has happened before. We’re doomed! Who will deliver us from the hand of these mighty gods? They are the gods who struck the Egyptians with all kinds of plagues in the wilderness. Be strong, Philistines! Be men, or you will be subject to the Hebrews, as they have been to you. Be men, and fight!”
The Philistines were afraid were afraid because they remembered stories about God’s intervention for Israel when they left Egypt. But Israel had turned away from God and was clinging to only a form of godliness, a symbol of former victories. People (and churches) can often try to live on the memories of God’s blessings. The Israelites wrongly assumed that because God had given them victory in the past, he would do it again, even though they had strayed far from him. Today, as in Bible times, spiritual victories come through a continually renewed relationship with God. We don’t need to live off the past. We need to keep our relationship with God new and fresh.
“The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God”.
1 John 3:8-9
We all have areas in our lives where temptation can be strong and some habits are hard to conquer. These weaknesses give the devil a foothold, so we need to deal with our areas of vulnerability. If we are struggling with a particular sin, however, I do not think these verses are aimed at us, even if for the time we seem to keep on sinning. John is not talking about people whose victories are still incomplete; he is talking about people who make a practice of sinning and look for ways to justify it. Here are three steps necessary to find victory over prevailing sin:
- Seek the power of the Holy Spirit and God’s word;
- Stay away from tempting situations;
- Seek the help of the body of Christ – be open to their willingness to hold you accountable and to pray for you.
“No one who is born to God will continue to sin” means that true believers do not make a practice of sinning, nor do they become indifferent to God’s moral law. All believers still sin but they are working to gain victory over sin. “God’s seed remains in them” means that true believers do not make a practice of sinning because God’s new life has been born into them.
“Then Asa called to the Lord his God and said, “Lord, there is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty. Help us, Lord our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this vast army. Lord, you are our God; do not let mere mortals prevail against you.” 2 Chronicles 14:11
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. ” Romans 8: 1-2
We cannot win the victory on our own or in our own strength. If we are facing battles we feel we can’t win, don’t give up. In the face of hordes of enemy soldiers, Asa prayed for God’s help, recognising his powerlessness against such a mighty army. The secret of victory is first to admit the futility of unaided human effort and then to trust God to save. His power works best through those who recognise their limitations (2 Corinthians 12:9). It is those who think they can do it all on their own who are in the greatest danger.
“9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
God has won victory over Satan. In Psalm 68:18, God is pictured as a conqueror marching to the gates and taking tributes from the fallen city. Paul uses that picture to teach that Christ, in his crucifixion and resurrection, was victorious over Satan. When Christ ascended to heaven, he gave gifts to the church, some of which Paul discusses in 4:11-13.
“This is why it says: “When he is ascended on high, he took many captives and gave gifts to his people.” Ephesians 4:8
“And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions,34 quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword;whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. 35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection”. Hebrews 11:32-35
Hebrews 11 summarises the lives of other great men and women of faith. Some experienced outstanding victories, even over the threat of death. Others, however, were severely mistreated, tortured and even killed. Having a steadfast faith in God does not guarantee a happy, carefree life. For many of us, it can mean the opposite in fact. Our faith almost guarantees us some form of abuse from the world. While we are on earth, we may never see the purpose for our suffering. But we can know that God will keep his promise to us. Do we believe this? I’ll be honest, during those times where my mindset has not been, has been negative and defeated, I have sometimes doubted whether God will keep his promise to me. That says more about me being weak in my human nature than it does about God. Many think that pain is the exception in the Christian life. When we suffer, we say “Why me?”. We feel as though God has deserted us, or we accuse him of not being as dependable as we thought. In reality, we live in an evil world filled with suffering, even for believers. But God is still in control. He allows some Christians to become martyrs for the faith, he allows others to survive the persecution. Rather than asking “Why me?” it is much more helpful to ask “Why not me?”.
Let’s be honest about this…. our faith and the values of the world are on a collision course, if we expect pain and suffering to come then we will not be shocked when it happens. But we can also find some comfort in knowing that Jesus also suffered. Jesus understands our fears, our weaknesses, our disappointments. He promised to never leave us, and he intercedes on our behalf. In times of pain, suffering and persecution we should rest confidently in Christ. Victory, therefore, comes through faith in Jesus Christ.
“For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. 17 For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted”. Hebrews 2:16-18
4″Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need”. Hebrews 4:14-16
“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20
“…but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood.25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” Hebrews 7: 24, 25
“When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.” Isaiah 43:2
Part One – Final Thoughts
“Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.” Revelation 2:7
Two trees had been in the Garden of Eden – the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Eating from the tree of life brought eternal life with God; eating from the tree of knowledge brought a realization of good and evil. When Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge, they disobeyed God’s command. So they were excluded from Eden and barred from eating from the tree of life. Eventually. evil will be destroyed and believers will be brought into a restored paradise. In the new earth, everyone will eat from the tree of life and will live forever. Hope for the future!
God bless for reading and following!
Ali @ Humble Mumblings xx