Leaving a Way of Thinking

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My seven-year-old daughter wants to be a farmer. She talks about it all the time. One day we were alone in the van and she began telling me how she was worried that she would marry a boy who said he wanted to be a farmer, but then after they got married, changed his mind. I wish you could’ve heard the genuine concern in her little voice. I had to stifle a laugh as I assured her that if that is what she wanted she could just look to marry someone who was already a farmer. 

I know when it comes down to it, the concept is much more complex than just marrying a farmer to begin with, but she is seven and I don’t need to waste a lot of time working out the details of a life that is a good 15 years or more away. Besides, this girl has had a lot of aspirations in her short duration on this planet. She will probably change her mind again, even before her teenage years. 

If you think about it, we expect her — and every child her age for that matter — to change and evolve their thinking with each passing year. It seems healthy and celebrated. 

It got me wondering: when do we stop expecting people to evolve their thinking?

As we reach adulthood, we start to put the breaks on our malleable mind and begin to harden in the name of “developing convictions.” But that is like freeze-framing your thinking at the age at which you came to a particular conclusion. We also seem to be selective in which areas we are willing to continue growing and evolving and which areas we cement and leave untouched through the ages. 

I have been in the church my whole life, but I can tell you the way I see and understand God has grown and evolved with every passing year. 

As a kid, I remember thinking Holy Spirit was a fickle force that could be grieved and flee at the moment you did something wrong. I thought of Him like a scared kitten I had to cajole out from under the bed. I am thankful I got that straightened out. I still don’t fully understand all the ins-and-outs of the relationship we get to have with Holy Spirit, but I know I am growing and learning with every year that passes. 

The two examples I gave seem easy to get on board with, but what about areas that touch closer to home? 

In my last article, I reviewed the book Letters to the Church by Francis Chan. He challenges us as the body of Christ to take a hard look at how we do church and humbly seek out what we need to change. One of the things I have been challenged to look at in my own life is how I view the programs of the church. I used to believe that those were what I was limited to in how I served. I am shifting out of that mindset. I am beginning to see that God has organic ministry opportunities for me that I receive permission to run with from Him. I have to be obedient to what He is calling me to do, even if my church doesn’t have a set formula to achieve that type of ministry. 

What areas in your faith have you started to feel an inkling to hold up to the Light of His will and ask if there needs to be tweaking? This can be hard depending on how close to your heart the thing is. I am no champion in this area, but I have come to conclude that there are a few things to keep in mind when you are confronting a way of thinking in your life.

Take time to reflect on why you think the way you do now.

I find that when you trace it back to the root, it releases a bit of the emotional attachment you may have to that way of thinking. 

Be real about your attachment, fear of change or whatever you are feeling about the area in question.

I find fear usually sits at the edge of any questioning I do. When I acknowledge it, the power it has on my heart lessens. This is where I can usually uncover pride, too. Pride doesn’t want to be found in the wrong. But God deals with surrendered pride beautifully. 

Give yourself grace to put a new way of thinking into practice.

Habits die hard and new patterns of thinking are mental habits. Keep going back to the Father for a renewing of your mind as you walk out a new way of thinking. He gives peace and strength to keep going!