John C. Maxwell On Changing Your Life By Changing Your Thinking
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Philippians 4:8)
“Think About These Things”
I consider the above verses to be one of the most important verses in the Bible. What occupies your mind and what you think means more than anything else in your life. Your thought life will determine how much you earn, where you live, and what you become in life.
Your life today is a result of your thinking yesterday. Your life tomorrow will be determined by what you think today. During a question and answer period at a recent ministerial conference, a pastor spoke up and said, “I think I can build a church to an average of 200. What do you think?” I said, “I agree, you can build one to that size.” Another pastor without raising his hand blurted out, “I think I can build a church up to 500. What do you think?”
The first pastor stood up and said, “That doesn’t seem fair. Why do you think he can build a larger church than I can when you do not even know our abilities and talents?” My reply to the protesting pastor was, “It doesn’t matter which one of you has the greatest ability. That which determines the success of your church’s growth more than any other ingredient is what you think you can do. If you think you can, you can. If you think you are, you are.”
Words have never been more true than in the Proverbs, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” We have all heard the comment about an individual who lacks tact in his conversation: “He says what he thinks.” That comment could be made about each one of us. Although we may not instantly blurt out our initial reactions, they will come out sooner or later if we continue to think about them. What enters our mind and occupies our thought process will somewhere, sometime, come out of our mouth.
My father is an example of the preceding statement. In the past 32 years he has been successful in church leadership. He has been successful as a pastor, district superintendent, and for the last 16 years as president of Circleville Bible College. One of the reasons for his success has been his ability to study and concentrate on church-related subjects. Since this specific area has occupied his thinking process for the past 32 years, he opens his mouth and out come church growth principles. He has become what he thinks about. It has been said before, “Be careful what you set your heart on, for you will surely get it.” Be careful what occupies your mind, because it will greatly determine what you will become tomorrow.
Much of my counseling with people centers around their desire to change their lives. I share with them a simple two-step formula which will help make them a different person. First, I let them read 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, old things are passed away, all things are become new.” The new birth that Jesus said we all must experience to be assured of going to Heaven not only determines our eternal destiny, it also changes our life right now. Forgiveness of sins removes much heartache and all guilt from the past. The love, joy, and peace that Jesus gives when we become His children will without question make a change in any individual’s life.
But I know many Christians who still need radical transitions in their home and in their daily lives. The second step to becoming the person you want to be is changing your thought life. You can literally change your life by beginning to think different thoughts. If you desire a mental “spring cleaning” I suggest you check the following areas.
(1) In What Environment Do You Live?
Each one of us are products of the environment that surrounds our lives. It is no accident that people who tend to be negative are too often found in the same household. Two people can live in the same county, under the same law, with the same privileges, and yet turn out to be drastically different in their values, priorities, and life-styles. Why? Because their environment, especially at home, was drastically different. Their thoughts reflected what they were given by their environment.
(2) What Are You Doing With Your Free Time?
How you spend the time that is your own will greatly determine what you think about. No doubt. Satan brings his greatest temptations to people when they have time on their hands. It takes discipline of character and proper goals to handle correctly the extra hours given to an individual in our society.
My parents were very concerned about what we children did in our spare time growing up. They were careful to make sure my brother, sister, and I had plenty of games at home so that our friends could come to our house to play. This enabled them to watch over our activities and relationships. I will forever be indebted to them for encouraging me to read the Bible and/or good Christian material for a half-hour daily. They understood the importance of filling my free time with tools that would help me to think right.
(3) Who Are Your Closest Friends?
The people you associate with will greatly determine how you think. One of the positive values of attending church is that the Christian receives encouragement from other believers. It is possible to know the characteristics of a person by knowing his friends. Peer pressure is often the greatest influence upon the life of an individual.
To Sum up, you can change your life by changing your thinking. You can change your thinking by changing your environment, the use of your free time, and your associations. Use Philippians 4:8 as the guideline to be applied in your thought life. Do your best to make it your standard for selecting friends, filling your free time, and changing your surroundings.
About John C. Maxwell:
John C. Maxwell is an internationally renowned pastor, leadership expert, coach, and author who has sold over 21 million books. Dr. Maxwell founded EQUIP and the John Maxwell Company, organizations that have trained more than 5 million leaders in 174 countries. Every year he speaks to Fortune 100 companies, international government leaders, and organizations such as the United States Military Academy at West Point, the National Football League, and the United Nations. A New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Business Week best-selling author, Maxwell’s The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership has sold more than 2 million copies. Developing the Leader Within You and The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader have each sold more than 1 million copies. The article above was adapted from the encouraging and practical book by John C. Maxwell. Think On These Things. Kansas City: Beacon Hill Press, 1979, Chapter 1. This was the book that launched Maxwell’s writing career!