Selective Thinking

I was just thinking…What are you thinking? I honestly don’t know what you’re thinking as you begin reading this, or what you will think after reading this essay. Nevertheless, my intent is to encourage you in the disciplines of your thought life by applying selective thinking—choosing your thoughts based on biblical truths. Learning to control your thoughts is a process that leads to freedom from an imprisoned mind shackled by life’s challenges, past experiences, and seemingly senseless situations. I’m sure you will agree that trying to control thoughts about even the simplest things of everyday life can be wearisome. For example, when my son, was 17 he was sure he’d found his “first and only” love, Bianca. He was charting their month-to-month anniversary on the wall calendar. Their artistic creativity was exchanged through love letters, notes, and on scraps of papers I found throughout the house… (Yes I was a snoop if that’s what you want to call it! But there’s really no “right to privacy” law in my kingdom). Guess what I was thinking? You’re right! Oh, no! This relationship couldn’t be that serious! My mind was flooded with thoughts. What was he thinking? He should be thinking about graduation, college, and career. My thoughts were out of control. I told myself to calm down. If you don’t get control of your thoughts you could become a weary, overprotective mother overwhelmed with anxiety and uncontrollable emotions trying to analyze his reasoning, predict his hormone reactions, and manipulate his thinking process. The truth is I didn’t really know what he was thinking. Therefore, rather than wasting time trying to manipulate his thoughts and make assumptions, I talked to him. I asked him his thoughts on love and relationships. I told him and showed him what God’s word said, and I personally modeled the way in my attitude and actions. I am not naïve. I knew he was not sharing all his thoughts. Did you share all yours with your parents when you were a teenager? Right… Nevertheless, my responsibility was to teach him the importance of selective thinking; help him learn how to apply biblical principles in his relationships. It was my responsibility to show him that every aspect of life, especially his personal life, is governed by the power of his thoughts—positive or negative. Ultimately, he must learn to manage his thoughts, or they will become the master of his life good or bad, right or wrong. Controlling our thoughts through selective thinking empowers us to manage life, endure adversity, and be victorious over every situation. Let’s consider Apostle Paul as our example along with his instructions recorded in Philippians 4. Although he was imprisoned in a Roman jail, he wrote this letter of encouragement to the church at Philippi. He was definitely in a situation where his perspective could have been distorted by his hardships. Unless he had controlled his thoughts through selective thinking, discouragement and disappointment would have been his daily doses of medicine. How often do we let unfavorable circumstances be the energy that propels negative thinking? In fact, studying Paul’s life, we learn that we cannot allow our mind to be imprisoned by negative thoughts of adverse circumstances. Using selective thinking to control our thoughts enables us to stay encouraged and encourage others to stand firm through difficulties. If Paul had focused on the “down-side” of his situation and restrained his thoughts to the same, he would have given up on sharing the good news (gospel) of Jesus Christ. No doubt, he would have aborted his divine mission. Instead, he chose to live in God-consciousness—seeing from God’s perspective and relying on his personal knowledge of God. Consequently, he experienced the peace of God in the worst of situations and could help others do the same (Philippians 1:12; 4:4-7). Guess what? We can experience this same peace in the midst of adversity through selective thinking—choosing what we think about. Paul closed his letter to the Philippians with the formula for securing the peace of God through the application of selective thinking—choosing your thoughts. Here is what he said, “Finally…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 (Philippians 4:8). Also, what I find that’s equally important is Paul’s example of leadership. (v.9, “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” As Christians, not only should we be selective in our thoughts but we must remember that our conduct and conversations reveal our thoughts. We are all leaders whether we hold positions and titles or not. We are examples; we are Christian witnesses. Therefore, we must model the way so that others can put into practice what they have learned from us, received or heard from us, and most definitely seen in us. Need I say, we should be modeling Christian character? Perhaps you’re thinking what a petty example to use my son. But ultimately the point I want to make is this: Even in the simplest things of life we must channel our thoughts so that we add value to our life, our relationships, and our decision-making. Learning to control our thoughts through selective thinking positions and empowers us to offer encouragement, give insight and instructions that lead to purposeful living. After all, what we think is central to who we are, what we do, and how we live. I was just thinking… If every Christian accepted a leadership role, by modeling Christ-like character in daily simplistic living, using selective thinking, applying biblical principles, and obeying the Word of God, we could change what the “world” thinks about Christ. And the Presence, Peace, and Power of God would be manifested in and through us to advance the Kingdom of God. I was just thinking… What are you thinking? ©2007 Queen E. F. Phillips, Majestic Publishing.  All rights reserved.  Permission granted to reprint, repost for nonprofit purposes only with credit given to copyright owner.

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