As a psychologist, my job is to get inside people’s heads and understand what it’s like to live in there. I can tell you that for many people it’s very stressful inside their minds!
Understanding the way we think and what we really believe is important work because, as Dallas Willard teaches, “We live at the mercy of our ideas.” It’s only as I get inside people’s mindset and attitudes that I can join with God’s grace to help them make the changes that bring healing and transformation and empower them for loving God and the people in their sphere of influence.
The greatest psychologist that I have learned from (second to Jesus, of course!) is the Apostle Paul. I urge you when you read Paul’s letters in the New Testament to think like you are learning from the greatest of psychologists – this is real life stuff he’s talking about! God’s wisdom for effective living just pours out of Paul!
For instance, consider these encouraging words from Paul on how the way we think influences our well-being and self-esteem:
Place yourself in Christ and you’ll be free of condemnation. Don’t let your mind be controlled by your natural abilities – that’s death. Let your mind be controlled by the Holy Spirit and you’ll be filled with God’s life and peace.
Put your thoughts on the things God is doing above you and all around you; don’t worry about worldly circumstances. Meditate on the word of Christ with gratitude so that it lives vibrantly and joyfully in you in all that you do.
Be happy in the Lord now and always! Do not be anxious about anything, but pray and God’s peace will guard your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus. So fill your minds with thoughts about the things that are true and good, noble and right, lovely and gracious – the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Learn to be content and strong in Christ in all situations – when things are going poorly for you and when they’re going well.
Think of yourself according to the grace God has given you, not according to what you can accomplish; put your trust in God, not yourself.
Don’t only think about your own needs, but also think about the needs of others.[i]
God’s Word brings us healing and transformation. “Renew your Mind and Life in Romans 8” has been a favorite Soul Shepherding resource for many.
Soul Shepherding’s ministry is about leverage for God’s kingdom. As psychotherapists and spiritual mentors we invest ourselves in the pastors, pastor’s wives, missionaries, leaders, and caregivers who have dedicated their lives to serving God. When they are helped in the cause of Christ so are many other people – whole organizations are positively affected. Thanks to the donors who invest in this ministry, when a pastor needs help we offer it for whatever he or she can afford.
[i] My paraphrases (working from NIV and MSG) from Romans 8:1, 6; Colossians 3:2, 16; Philippians 4:4, 6-8; Romans 12:3; Philippians 2:4. Putting Scripture in your own wording is a great resource for personal meditation and prayer.