I recently submitted a softer version of this piece for publication in a local newspaper. I like to get readers thinking about their lives. This one is about that very thing: thinking.
Popular thinking is defined as thoughts and/or beliefs regarded by the general population to be true and acceptable. Popular thinking is the lazy way to carry an opinion, but it gets worse. When we submit ourselves to an ideology, to a belief, to a culturally accepted standard, we are spiritually submitting ourselves, almost like we’re bowing down to it. We will become like what we bow down to – in thought, words, and behavior.
Things in your life are either expanding or shrinking depending on the focus you give them. Genuine growth, creativity, and achievement depend on new ideas, but what happens when we can’t escape the “good enough” ideas or won’t let go of the old ones? What happens when we believe we can’t change our lives or make them better? We grow stagnant, traditional, and while withering, we live our lives as a mere shell of the person God created us to be. The traditions of people can be very things – unless they are contrary to what God wants.
Personal growth is not automatic, but must be pursued. The way we think and believe will determine the outcome of our lives. Where is a reliance on popular thinking or tradition holding you back from what God wants for you?
Henry Ford said, “Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason so few engage in it.” John Maxwell says, “If you value popularity over good thinking, then you will severely limit your potential.” In speaking to an audience recently, I talked about the power of one’s potential to achieve more, exceedingly more than most of us can imagine. Those of us, who pursue growth, end up pursuing broader, deeper thinking.
Whether you are part of a business, church, or family, traditional thinking can lock up your potential and cause problems that may go unidentified. It’s only when we stop and do the work of thinking do we solve problems with new creativity. When we do the work of personal spiritual growth, we learn to solve problems with the help of the Holy Spirit, not “What is everyone else doing?” or “What have we always done?”
Paul wrote his letter to the Romans encouraging them to not take on the thinking of the world, but to be transformed by having their minds renewed by the truth (Romans 12:2). When he said “Do not be conformed to the world” the original Greek word is schematizo from which we get our English word schematic, meaning design or blueprint. The root word actually means to twist together. If we are not supposed to model our lives after the blueprint of popular thinking (which models us after the image of society), then that requires we engage in better thinking that leads to greater discernment. Without strong discernment or astuteness, our thoughts and lives can get so twisted up with what is not true that we begin to believe it. Someone said, “A lie doesn’t become truth, wrong doesn’t become right, and evil doesn’t become good, just because it’s accepted by the majority.”
Today our world is plagued with many rumors, contrary beliefs, and mixed philosophies. Do you find yourself wondering what is true? So do I. We need to pursue personal growth, deepen our relationship with God, and ask Him for greater wisdom and discernment. In Ephesians 4:23-25, Paul is exhorting us to untangle ourselves from what corrupts our lives and be renewed in the spirit of our minds; to push aside the false and speak only what we know to be true. This comes from growth! If there’s no renewing of our minds in Biblical truth, then we grab whatever is believed in our culture and it becomes ours. The same old thinking always brings the same old results.
Popular thinking sometimes means not thinking at all, and at best only brings average results. Our thoughts have the power to create what we experience, and whatever we focus on grows larger. If you’re tired of your own “stinkin thinkin” holding you back, here are some steps to consider:
- Stop and think before you follow popular thinking
- Include strong believers (who know how to hear God’s Spirit) who are innovative thinkers in your circle
- Continually question your own thinking; what worked yesterday might not be best for today – Does what I believe line up with God’s truth?
- There may be something new to discover so ask questions and seek options
- Even if uncomfortable, make decisions based on what is right according to the Word of God rather than on what is commonly accepted
Author, Mark Twain is noted for saying, “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it’s time to pause and reflect.” God designed our minds with the ability to be renewed which means we can change the way we think. If you want to change your life, you must change the way you think!
Be more than a follower; become a strong leader who exercises good thinking, births innovative solutions, and shares new ideas. Become comfortable with being uncomfortable. Know your values and let them be your guide. Remember, everything begins as a thought and our thoughts determine our destiny. It takes nothing to join the crowd, so before you follow popular or traditional thinking, think!
For help or suggestions, send me an email! I’d love to hear about your thinking!
Loads of grace,
From the desk by the window where possibility and creativity are in the air!
Robin L. Lewis is a certified life coach, speaker, and writer who challenges others to grow and achieve. For more information, email Robin at firstname.lastname@example.org and get free updates at www.sozolifeleaders.com/blog.
Where I do some of my best thinking! Fishing and beach combing with my husband, Jeff.