Comic strip character Pogo said, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”
That truth came home to me some years ago, and I’m still trying to fight the battle. I came to realize that the biggest obstacle to my success was my mind. OK, no wisecracks about my brain. I don’t mean my intelligence. Though I’m not as smart as a lot of people I know, the size of my IQ is not the issue.
My biggest obstacle to success – in just about anything – is my thought patterns. So often I fall into stinking thinking. I constantly find myself believing that I can’t do something. I fall prey to paralyzing thoughts such as: You have already blown it; It’s too late to get it right; They won’t like me; You are not prepared; It will never work out; You may as well quit now; It might work for other people, but it won’t work for you; etc.
The problem with these thoughts is that they usually are not true. The Bible tells us to watch how we think. Philippians 4:8 says, “Whatever is true…think about such things.” I get off track when I dwell on things that are not true.
Another problem with stinking thinking is that it is based upon myself. When I dwell on what I know or my preparation, I’m being proud and believing that all life depends on me. But my life really depends on God. He’s the one who really makes things work out. He’s the one who has all knowledge. He’s the one in charge of the timing of events. He’s the one brings me favor in the eyes of other people. I get short-sighted when I think that I’m the one who makes things work out.
This bad thinking is orphan thinking. “I’m all alone. No one cares about me. If I can’t work it out, then it will all fall apart. I’ve got to work things around so that I come out on top.” This orphan thinking really dishonors Christ. He gave me life as an adopted son of God. I’m never alone.
Good thinking dwells on the fact that God is in charge. He will make it all work out. He won’t let go of me. He is my advocate. In Christ I am perfect. I have nothing to prove. Paul talks about taking “captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).
When I dwell on these thoughts, life’s setbacks don’t knock me down so badly. God doesn’t need me to be productive for his kingdom. He loves me just as I am. His love through Christ frees me to live by his power. His power trumps all the negative thoughts. He frees me with his truth. He frees me to live. And by his grace, he uses me to build his kingdom and bring him glory.