Have you ever seen barnacles attached to a ship? These little crustaceans latch onto a marine vessel and hold onto the ship to feed. While they may seem harmless enough, they cause many problems for the vessel. Similarly, you can have things that become attached to your mind over time. You may not be aware of them at first, but eventually they can cause you many problems.
People who work on a ship understand that it’s important to remove the barnacles. In the same way, it’s important for you to get remove these things that have become attached to your mind.
Here’s what you want to prevent becoming attached to your mind, how they are similar to barnacles, and what you can do to clean those things from your mind.
The thoughts that fill your head will affect how you live your life. How you think will determine not only how you act, but also how you see the world. What you think will define your outlook and who you will be.
You may not even be aware of the thoughts that you meditate on. They may come into your head and you may not even realize what is in your mind. But what takes residence in your mind will affect who you are and what you do.
The Scripture says you should take every thought captive and compare it to what Scripture says (2 Corinthians 10:5). So it’s important that you think about what you think about.
Using Philippians 4:8 as a template, here is an eight-point checklist for considering what you consider.
In the movie The Matrix (1999), the character Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) shares insights with his protégé Neo (Keanu Reeves) about what it means to be free and what it means to be captive: “Like everyone else you were born into bondage. Into a prison that you cannot taste or see or touch. A prison for your mind.”
[Spoiler Warning: In this dystopian world, humans created artificial intelligence that took over the planet and subjugated humans as their source of energy to power the machines. Neo is one of these people who was oblivious about his captivity, but Morpheus offers him the opportunity to escape the captivity and understand what is truly real. Neo accepts the opportunity, and Morpheus proceeds to explain to him what “the matrix” is and what he can do to defeat it—as the fate of humanity depends on him.]
In The Matrix, Morpheus tells Neo:
The Matrix is everywhere. It is all around us. … It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.
Like The Matrix, we are all born into a world where our mind is imprisoned. Like Neo, we must learn what “the matrix” is and how we can defeat it in our own lives.
Here are three things you must do to get yourself free from “the matrix” you were born into.
When you think of the attributes of successful people, what do you think of? Do you think of someone who is a winner-take-all negotiator? Or someone who ruthlessly pursues what will enhance their life? Or someone who desires to win at all costs?
While those characteristics may be the world’s standards for success, God has a very different standard. God doesn’t value a kind of success where you are the only one to win. God values a kind of success where you help others win. Because when others win, you win as well.
Psalm 41:1 (ESV) says
Blessed is the one who considers the poor!
In the day of trouble the Lord delivers him.
To be truly successful, here are three characteristics from Psalm 112:4 and Psalm 116:5 you need to develop in yourself.
God wants you to be someone who is comfortable with your own identity. You should be who you are. And more importantly, you should not be who you are not.
While it may seem obvious on the surface, that is not the norm with most people. As Henry David Thorough wrote, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” They don’t know who they are, so they don’t know who they should be. They try to fit into molds created by other people, only to find that they don’t fit.
That is a sad way to live. In fact, that’s not really living. That’s just existing. And it doesn’t allow God to use the one life that you have to the fullest.
Life is meant to be an adventure. God wants you to trust that He knows how to fully actualize you. But that requires putting total faith in God to help you reveal who you are, and not try to fit someone else’s mold for you.
Oscar Wilde reputedly said to “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” While that may seem funny, it can be uncomfortably insightful to many. Because it requires that you must first know who you are.
If you have tried to fit into the molds that others have made for you, then here are three things you can do to step into your own identity.
When Noah started building the ark that God told him to build, it was a daunting task. Noah persevered with extraordinary dedication to accomplish a purpose that was beyond the scope of credibility.
During that time, Noah would have likely dealt with ridicule from his neighbors. People may have come from miles around to watch and laugh at the man building the big boat. Considering that it may not have rained up until this point (Genesis 2:5-6), the idea of that water covering the whole earth would seem rather absurd—especially with the caveat that Noah and his family would be the only ones saved from it.
In spite the doubts resulting from the ridicule of his neighbors, Noah built a boat that was approximately 450-500 feet long, 75-85 feet wide, and 45-50 feet tall, with only his three sons to help him (Genesis 6:10; 7:13). It is therefore not surprising that this feat could have taken him 120 years (Genesis 6:3). During that period of 120 years, that is a long time to be focused on doing the same thing.
Noah must have suffered greatly at the hands (and mouths) of the people around him. Despite the difficulties, he knew that this work was what God called him to do.
The Apostle Paul echoes this idea in his letter to the Romans. Here are five words from Paul’s letter to the Romans that will help you develop the dedication to do what God has called you to do.
Everyone says they want to be happy. People frequently quote from the Declaration of Independence about the importance of the “pursuit of happiness.” And yet most people today are not truly happy. Abraham Lincoln famously said, “People are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” While that may sound surprising, it is nonetheless true. Happiness is a choice.
You may know people that aren’t happy unless they have something to complain about. Although I’m saying that tongue-in-cheek, you know who I’m talking about. They have chosen a way of life that involves listening to negative voices and looking at the negative side of things. Their negativity is a choice.
A few years ago, an Australian palliative care nurse wrote a book called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying. In the book, Bronnie Ware recorded the themes of regret that repeatedly surfaced in the final days of dying people. And one of the top five: “I wish that I had let myself be happier.” Ware goes on to say: “They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives.”
People can listen to the wrong voices in their life. As a result, they think that’s how they need to live their lives. But those voices do not bring happiness. Instead they bring misery.
If you want to be happy, then you have to decide that you will not listen to negativity. If you truly want happiness in your life, then you need to stop listening to these three voices.
It’s no fun to have to lead in turbulent times. But if you haven’t had to do it yet, most likely you will have to do it at some point in your life. It may happen to you in your workplace where you have to navigate disruption in your company from outside—or inside—forces. It may happen to you at home if you have to deal with family transition or disintegration. No matter where you encounter it, it will likely not be fun. But it will make you reach deep within to lean on leadership abilities that you didn’t know you had.
In 1 Samuel 30, David had to reach deep within to lead in turbulent times. David and his crew came back to his home base at Ziklag, only to find that the Amalekites burned the city with fire, stole their goods, and took all their families captive. David’s men were inconsolable, and David was greatly concerned when his men talked about stoning him (1 Samuel 30:1-6a).
While you may never have to face something as dire as David did, you will likely think that you are—at least at the time. As a result, it is worth your while to know how to lead yourself and others in turbulent times. Here are three keys to remember when you are going through trials of your leadership abilities.
You probably have heard or seen (or experienced) when legal contracts don’t go as expected. It seems like one party is always letting another party down in the promises they make. Perhaps you have been let down by someone else in a contract—or in a promise.
Unlike human contracts, God’s promises aren’t violated. God’s promises are always kept. But He requires our active participation in fulfilling His promises.
In Psalm 37, David lists five promises from God. God says that He will do something—if you do something first. Here’s what God asks of you, and what you can expect in return.
Many people want to move forward, but they are worried about making the next step. They are concerned that they will make a mistake. Or look foolish. Or both. But the only way to move forward is to be willing to walk out in faith and take that next step.
In professional life, there is always the chasm between where you are and where you want to go. And there is so much uncertainty between the start and the finish. But the only way you can get to where you want to go is to risk making a mistake. Or looking foolish. Or both.
Here is the process to implement if you are to embrace uncertainty and become comfortable with taking the next step.