Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will - Romans 12:2
Everyone wants to see their lives changed or transformed for the better. The above verse makes it clear how this really happens. We might talk about self-improvement, developing better habits, creating a more effective way to do things, or become more disciplined or organized. But if you have noticed, most things based on willpower and desire fizzle out after a while?
I can tell you as a workout - fanatic, in early January at my local YMCA where I work out, it is packed with new people who have made new year’s resolutions based on willpower. But within 6 weeks or less, most of those people are gone – never to be seen again – and it is back to the regulars for the rest of the year.
I observe the same thing with people in the church. Everybody wants to “know the Lord better”, “live a better life”, “be blessed by God” or “grow spiritually.” While everybody wants it – only a few really are willing to pay the price of partnering with God and allowing Him to renew their minds so they can actually experience on - going and consistent life-change or transformation.
Willpower or self-discipline alone won’t create transformation, despite what the world teaches about self-improvement. According to God’s word, it requires us partnering with God for this to authentically happen. This means that we do our part – which is actually giving ourselves to God sacrificially (Romans 12:1) and then trusting Him to work in and through our lives to bring transformation.
So what is our part? Our part is to decide or make the choice to allow God to change our thinking that leads to transformation.
We Get to Decide What We Think About
We either choose our thoughts, or our thoughts will choose what we think about. We choose what we will focus on; or something else will – mainly our own flesh, our past, previous experiences or others. We get to choose, as Stephen Covey points out to us, either to create a new future or simply become victims of our past.
God will for us is to allow Him to do something new in our lives – but He only will do this if we give Him permission to renew our minds.
Our thoughts determine:
- What we dwell on
- Our words
- Our attitudes
- Our actions
- Our patterns and habits
- Our relationship with our self
- Our relationship with others
- Our relationship with God
- Our life!
I Can’t Help What Pops into My Head – Can I?
The answer is no! You can’t help or predict what might pass through your mind or “come into your conscious thoughts.” We receive signals, messages and subliminal messages all the time from outside sources – often without realizing it. We also have a subconscious mind that we usually aren’t aware of and the thoughts or memories that will pop into our conscious mind from here. And further, Satan, the source of evil, will also work to put thoughts into your mind (this is why Paul warned the Ephesians to put on the helmet of salvation). None of these can we control. However, what we can control is whether we will entertain, dwell or focus on these thoughts and messages that bombard us and come into our conscious thinking.
This is very much within your control. For those who say, “I just can’t help what I think about” are lying to themselves. They may not be able to control the initial thought that pops into their head, but they can certainly decide to not focus on it by focusing on something else.
So, we can control what we choose to think about. We are not a victim of our own thoughts, or outside messages. We get to choose to be proactive here. This is the second step toward transformation (the first step is to give ourselves sacrificially to the Lord and trust Him to change our minds). As one person put, “If you will transform your mind, God will transform your life.”
How Do I Change My Mind?
- Know that you get to choose your own thoughts – no one else gets to do this for you. You are not a victim of other people’s messages unless you choose to be.
- Know your default settings – what do you fall back to? What is your default setting when your mind begins to wonder or rest? If you don’t know this, take some time to do some self-awareness.