One of the greatest enemies of longevity in ministry is negativity. This disease presents its hideous face in many ways in our personal lives and ministries.
Like many other hindrances to our walk with the Lord and our relationships with family, friends and those we lead in our churches, habitual negative thinking is like a metastasized cancer. It may start in exceedingly small ways, but it almost always spreads and can even dominate our attitudes and actions toward people, including those whom we love most.
Are there people or situations that always push you into negative thinking? Or do you excoriate yourself anytime you make a mistake or hear a word of criticism? Yes, negative thoughts can also be aimed at ourselves.
Negative thoughts and actions can have disastrous impacts on both our hearts and our ministries. Negativity is displeasing to our Father God and counterproductive to our efforts to know Christ and to make Him known.
Therefore, we need a plan to be able to surrender our hearts to God’s patient guidance in this area. As Jesus said in John 8:32, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” The apostle Paul had many reasons in his life to be negative. But through the love and direction of Christ, the Holy Spirit excised this cancer in his life.
Negative thoughts and actions can have disastrous impacts on both our hearts and our ministries.
Philippians 4:8-9 has been one of God’s truth-giving tutors for me to fight this insidious obstruction throughout my life. Allow these words to permeate your heart today.
“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy — meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.”
We find the battle begins in our heart and is waged in our minds. Isaiah 26:3 states, “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” In his commentary on Philippians, Warren Wiersbe puts it this way: “Wrong thinking leads to wrong feeling, and before long the heart and the mind are pulled apart.”
To be victorious in the trenches of fighting these destructive perceptions, we must “bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,” as Paul challenged us in 2 Corinthians 10:5.
Based on Paul’s instruction in Philippians 4, here is a strategy to help fight against negativity. Consider meditating on each of these eight categories, one per day, for as long as you are able: true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, of virtue and praiseworthy.
You might consider thinking about one of these things as you drive. Or maybe have a conversation with your spouse or a friend about what one of these concepts means to them. Explore. Evaluate. Consider. Let God enlighten and lighten your heart. Start today.
I pray you will not only be encouraged but changed from being prone to having negative thoughts to being in control of them. In God’s time, I pray you will find deliverance from hurtful thoughts to freedom in Christ.
This transformation will be a major step toward perseverance in the ministry into which God has called and led you.
by Michael Cummings / Contract worker for Church Health and Revitalization / Baptist State Convention of North Carolina
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