As kids many of us played “follow the leader.” One child is tasked with leading the group in some circuitous route through the playground with the expressed goal of making the route too hard for some in the string of kids to follow.
As Christians, and especially as Christian leaders, we continue to play games into our adult lives. A major game we play with ourselves is carried out on the subconscious level, and can be disastrous for our lives and those of any followers.
Our trouble is that we all have created bad Thinking Patterns. We may have struggled with one particular person so much that we assume an argument over an upcoming conversation with them. We may have discovered a weakness of our own and allowed it to control our decision-making instead of seeking God to develop us in that area. We may have a personal temptation that has become so powerful in our lives that we actually protect it from others instead of enlisting their help in finding victory over it. And the list goes on.
One major cause for these bad Thinking Patterns is our failure to recognize the power the Spiritual world exerts every day on the physical world we see. As A.W. Tozer says “The world of sense triumphs. The visible becomes the enemy of the invisible, the temporal of the eternal. That is the curse inherited by every member of Adam’s tragic race.” He goes on to observe that we tend to see the spiritual as unreal, and the physical as what is real. But that is wrong thinking! The Spiritual world IS real. The disparity actually lies between what is real and what is imagined; between temporal and eternal.
As Christian leaders we are charged with inviting others from where they are, into new territory that God has called us towards. We are to encourage them to follow the same Christ we are looking to for our own guidance and growth. We must, by example, help them see that His spiritual guidance is designed for, and fully relates to, the temporal live they spend their energies in. To do that we need to reorient our thinking to look for, and recognize the Spiritual markers Christ has provided to guide our everyday lives.
Hebrews 11:1–3 (NIV) Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for. 3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.
What we see in our lives is the result of what is not seen. The visible is there because of God’s work in the invisible realm. The struggles, weaknesses, temptations and conflicts we experience are not the result of this physical world. Therefore, our path to deal with them won’t be found in reacting in temporal ways or with our natural human attitudes.
Philippians 4:8 (NIV) Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
The reality is that we all follow our thinking. If we dwell on what may go wrong, we will experience much of what we spent our time thinking about. If we expect others to react negatively to us, they probably will. If we expect a conversation to escalate into an argument, it probably will. But if we prayerfully expect that God will go before us and prepare hearts and circumstances to produce an outcome He knows is best, …it will.
This next week, evaluate your thinking several times a day. What are you expecting? What do you believe to be true? Are you planning for temporal results in your temporal world, or are you looking to be shown spiritual result as you choose to follow a Spiritual way of thinking? You and I choose every day. What Thinking will you Follow?