Your mental health is a critical part of your effectiveness in ministry. But it’s easy to think that your problems have more to do with your circumstances—a lack of resources, spiritual apathy in your church and community, or a personal struggle you’re facing—and less to do with how you think.
But the truth is, God is far more interested in changing your mind than your circumstances. We want God to change our circumstances and take away the pain and sorrow around us. Those issues are important, but God wants to first deal with what’s going on in you.
Paul tells us, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:2 NLT).
Nothing will change in your life or your ministry unless you change how you think.
Why is mental health so important?
- Your thoughts control your life. Every single action begins with a thought. If we don’t think it, we don’t do it. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts” (GNT).
Even untrue thoughts will shape your entire life if you don’t check them.
- The mind is the battleground for sin. We win or lose the battle against sin in our minds. All temptation happens in the mind. As a result, that’s where sin happens. Paul describes this battle going on inside our brains like this “I take pleasure in God’s standards in my inner being. However, I see a different standard [at work] throughout my body. It is at war with the standards my mind sets and tries to take me captive to sin’s standards which still exist throughout my body” (Romans 7:22-23 GW).
Your brain is your greatest asset, and Satan wants to control it.
- Managing your mind is the key to peace and happiness. An unmanaged mind leads to tension, pressure, and conflict. A managed mind leads to tranquility, serenity, and confidence. Romans 8:6 says, “If people’s thinking is controlled by the sinful self, there is death” (NCV).
Here are three daily habits to help you cultivate a healthy mind:
Feed your mind with truth.
We all know the importance of nutrition. Good calories help you grow stronger and give you more energy. Bad calories harm your body.
The same is true with your thoughts. For a healthy thought life, you need to feed your mind with truth, not poison or junk.
Jesus tells us about healthy “mind food” when he told Satan, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4 NIV).
Pastor, the Bible is our soul food. We don’t just study it to prepare a good message on Sunday. It’s how we keep our minds healthy throughout the week.
Free your mind from destructive thoughts.
Your mind needs to be liberated. You are a prisoner of your thoughts. You’ve been told all kinds of untrue things about yourself. You believe many of them, and those thoughts control your actions.
Every day you go to battle against Satan, your old nature, and the value system of this world. But the Bible tells us we don’t fight that battle with just any old weapons.
Paul writes, “The weapons we use in our fight are not the world’s weapons but God’s powerful weapons, which we use to destroy strongholds. We destroy false arguments; we pull down every proud obstacle that is raised against the knowledge of God; we take every thought captive and make it obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5 GNT).
Behind every sin is a lie we are choosing to believe, and it can become a stronghold. But Paul tells us to “take every thought captive and make it obey Christ.”
You must make up your mind to take your thoughts captive every day. The best time to defeat temptation is before it starts.
Focus on the right things.
The Bible tells us in Philippians 4:8: “Fill your minds with those things that are good and that deserve praise” (GNT). What are the good things we should focus on?
- Think about Jesus. You’ve heard the old cliché: You become what you think about the most. If you think about Jesus, you’ll become more like him. So when you’re ready to give up, think about Jesus.
- Think about others. Everything in the world teaches you to think about yourself and no one else. But the Bible tells us that life isn’t about us. You’ll only know the real meaning of life when you learn to give your life away.
- Think about eternity. Life is about more than the here and now. Too often we have short-term thinking. Colossians 3:2 says, “Keep your mind on things above, not on worldly things” (GW). You’ve heard people say of others that they are too heavenly minded to be any earthly good. That’s not true. It’s the heaven-minded people who have done the most good throughout history.
Learning to manage your mind will change your life and your ministry. God gave you your mind, and it’s one of your greatest assets.
It’s time to go to battle for it every day.