by Rick Warren
This month I am going to start a new four part series entitled, What’s on Your Mind. It will look at some of the things that we can do to stay mentally fit. This is especially important for leaders.
In 1 Peter 1:13 (NIV) we read, “Prepare your minds for action and be self controlled.” Prepare your minds for action — the Greek literally means gird up your mind, like a soldier would cinch up his belt and prepare for battle. He’s talking about being mentally fit.
Your mind can store about a hundred trillion facts and yet most of us only think about ten thousand thoughts a day, that’s about three and a half million a year and we only use about ten percent of our minds ever. Your mind is a special gift from God. Use it well.
1. GUARD THE ACCESS TO YOUR MIND
Be choosy and control what you allow into you mind. Be discriminating. A lot of people have what I call a Freeway Mind. Everything just goes right through it without filter. Any book, tv show, or idea is fed into the mind with no thought as to whether it’s good for you or not.
I read a book entitled Positioning: The Battle For Your Mind. It’s about how advertisers compete for your attention. Whether you realize it or not, everybody wants to get your attention. Don’t be persuaded by this. You need to guard and control the access to your mind. As they say in the computer industry: Garbage in, Garbage out. What you put into your mind is what is going to be reflected in your life. “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.”
I like the way 2 Corinthians 10:5 describes this process, “Take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” Guard your mind, be disciplined in the way that you think.
It is up to you. There are four kinds of material that you can fill your mind with:
1. Poison. Poison is stuff like pornography, occult, trashy novels, things that blasphemy God, anything that is bad for your mind. Paul says in Romans 16:19, “I want you to be wise concerning that which is good. But I want you to be innocent concerning evil.” Not to know evil by experience but by the word of God. In Psalms 101:3, David said “I will set no vile thing before my eyes.” It’s a promise he made to himself. I’m not going to look at anything that is bad and unhealthy for me. A lot of people need that verse on their tv. I read this week that the average television is now on seven hours and seven minutes a day in the average home. If you’re an average American, you watch about 1000 hours of tv a year. That means if you live to be 65, you will amass nine and a half solid years of tv viewing. Parents no longer teach values, the television teaches values. Nine and a half solid years of tv viewing. That’s incredible!
If instead, you studied the Bible every Sunday of your life from day 0 to age 65 that would only equal four and a half months of Bible teaching. Four and a half months of Bible compared to nine and a half years of television.
2. Stuffing. Stuffing is simply stuff. It’s neither good nor bad. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:23, “All things are lawful but not all things edify.” He’s saying that some things are not necessarily wrong they’re just not necessary. A lot of books, movies, and tv shows are just stuffing. They’re not harmful, they’re just “there”.
3. Brain food. These are things that inspire you, instruct you, help you grow, teach you a skill, and make you a better person. Paul says in Philippians 4:7-8, “Things that are true and just and honest, think on those kind of things.” These things build you up rather than tear you down. The are not negative in nature, or merely neutral, but always postive, instructive, and helpful.
4. The Bible. The word of God. David said, “Thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against thee.” The Bible keeps us on the right track. If you do this one thing you’ll be prosperous and successful in the eyes of God. Choose to meditate and memorize and study the word of God and fill your mind with it. Then act on those truths that you learn. Let your life reflect them.
Your life will reflect the choices you make about what you allow to go into your mind. How much will you allow on tv before you change the channels? At what point do you become righteously indignant and say “I’ve had enough” and turn the channel? Some people will never turn the channel, not for any reason at all. It doesn’t matter what’s happening or what the scene is. They sit passively and watch. They have no guard on their mind and are allowing anything to enter. Choose wisely. It is your life and your mind. You need to guard the access to your mind.
Join me next month as I discuss the next step in staying mentally fit.
Rick Warren is the Founding Pastor of Saddleback Church and author of several internationally bestselling books, including The Purpose Driven Church and The Purpose Driven Life.