At certain points in my life I have recognized the need to change.
I realize I’m stuck in bad habits or sinful behavior. Or it hits me that my current pace of life is not sustainable and I’m headed for burnout. Or I become aware that a lack of discipline or intentionality is the only thing standing between me and success. I need to change. But how?
Real change can seem elusive, especially the older we get. And science has an explanation. According to the article “The 4 Underlying Principles of Changing Your Brain,” the default mode of our brains is to create well-worn paths of thinking, making us more set in our ways and bad attitudes over time. But it is possible to resist. The article states:
“Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to change itself constantly by creating new neural pathways and losing those which are no longer used. Encouraging the brain’s neuroplasticity is the key to sustained adult learning and emotional intelligence, which will help the brain remain open-minded, intuitive and able to overcome biases throughout adulthood.”
Increasingly, we hear scientists talking about the importance of neuroplasticity for a long and happy life, but the Bible is way ahead on this point. God’s Word has always been clear that mastery of the mind is the key to transformation.
Look at 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.”
Sometimes we think we need to change our behavior, but a change of routine without a change of mind is futile. Right thinking translates into right behavior.
As believers, we are given a “sound mind” (also translated “self-discipline” and “self-control”). We have control over what thoughts we entertain. Not only that, but the Spirit of God is constantly renewing our minds as we walk with Him. Here are several default thinking patterns that we can replace with better thinking:
Instead of comparison … loving myself because God does
Instead of competing … celebrating the successes of others
(1 Thessalonians 5:11)
Instead of criticizing … cultivating gratitude
(1 Thessalonians 5:18)
Instead of complaining … choosing acceptance and seeing circumstances as a gift
Instead of controlling … trusting God with the outcome
The words on the left are just a few of the “world-conforming” thought patterns that can take control of my mind. And as I give into them (instead of the godly alternatives), my brain creates deep trenches of wrong thinking. And wrong thinking leads to wrong behavior. 2 Corinthians 10:5 says “we take every thought captive to obey Christ.” The link between thinking and behavior is powerful.
Changing My Mind
What are your default patterns of thinking? Are they worldly or do they reflect a mind renewed by the Spirit of God? Take some time examining your thought life and observing areas that need a change. Comparison can be something I struggle with. But when I take time to think about the ways God has gifted me and the blessings He’s provided, I feel His love and am grateful for what He’s given me.
When change is the goal, a new workout plan, devotional schedule or dating strategy is great. But real change only happens when we change our minds. Literally.
Copyright 2019 Suzanne Hadley Gosselin. All rights reserved.