It’s Sunday and you’re getting ready for church. You’re thinking that worship is going to be good and you’re jazzed to hear from God today. You wisp yourself off to church and settle in. You’re feeling good. Bold! You’re walking around the church like you own the place, praying for others and laying on hands to anyone who needs it. A few good acquaintances make their way to you and say hello. It’s really going well.
Suddenly you hear the band in the sanctuary strike up a melody and start the worship set. You say goodbye to your friends and find your way to your seat, greeting others as you do, and then you realize it’s not the “A-Team” bringing the worship today, it’s the “B-Team.” Where’s our usual worship leader?,” you think to yourself. “Dang, I guess I’ll have to muster up something from myself so I can still enjoy worship. I hope they play good songs.” Likewise, later in the service it occurs to you the Sr. pastor is also gone too. He’s gone and has the lead team with him and you’re there left to find God on your own. “What a disaster,” you find yourself thinking. “I would’ve gone shopping or stayed home if I knew church was going to be like this.”
Have you ever been there? Have you ever found yourself feeling like this when you went to church. When the fill in pastor/speaker steps forward it’s almost as if all the air went right of the room? It’s ok, it’s human nature. It also happens to be a mindset. But you’re not supposed to be simply human because God made you a spiritual vessel too.
If something disappoints you and doesn’t meet your expectation it’s an indication that you’re more aware of our external environment (flesh) than you are of your internal environment (spirit). This is almost always true because God is not walking around depressed over our actions any more than we should be from others. And believe me, we give him a lot more reason to do so. If Jesus is your Lord and Savior and you know that he has your best interest in heart, then there should be no reason to be disappointed because you would also know that Jesus never breaks a promise.
There are big mindsets and small mindsets. A small mindset is one like I just described. We come to church with an expectation that church will be a certain way and when it doesn’t meet our expectations, we become disappointed, disillusioned and don’t “feel” the presence of God suddenly. Big mindsets are often related to our way of thinking and doctrines for what we believe and the way we think church should be conducted. We want things done a certain way and if it’s not, the idea that our beliefs are more right than others can emerge bringing with it disappointment and frustration. Frustration can be a catalyst for change so it’s not all bad, but at the same time, if not managed, it can be cancerous too. I will cover that in a later chapter.
The bible says, “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so. Rom. 8:6-7. If we are setting our minds on God and what he is up to, we have stepped into a level of maturity that puts the working of God above our own situations. And as the scriptures tell us, if we don’t do this, we are demonstrating a level of hostility toward God because we have not yielded out minds, our thought life to him. By contrast, if we come to church with the idea that striving will gain us position or promotion, we do so with the expectations that we can earn something ourselves, yet another mindset.
Remember the old commercial about drugs? “A mind is a terrible thing to waste?” The same cannot be said for mindsets. In fact, the more mindsets you waste and do away with, the better. Mindsets don’t have to be all bad if they’re been put there by God, as Romans says. A mind set on God is a very good thing. But there’s a warning with Romans too that we should be weary of setting our minds on the flesh. Are we doing something because it brings pleasure to our flesh. Were you in an argument with someone and did it feel really good to tell that person off? That’s a mind set on the flesh. The mind set on the spirit takes all things into account and is slow to speak, James 1:19.
More often than not people bring mindsets of expectations into church and aspects of their personals lives such as marriage and those mindsets set them up for failure. Let me say that any mindsets that were not put there by God are a huge threat to our lives. This is why Paul taught us to hold every thought captive in Christ. In 2 Cor. 10:5 tells us, “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.”
What does that really mean?
Speculations are ideas and thoughts that you think every day. They are calculations of limiting loss, adding protection and playing the law of averages. They are a reckoning and the kind of reasoning that most of us never even realize is hostile to the Christian faith. This is why every lofty thing, including our mindsets need to die a quick death. It is a lofty idea to assume that God has sided with you more so than others – which is why quiet reflection is so important. Did you consider that God was working on you? Did you ever think that he wanted you to learn suffering with him? Did you think, perhaps, that he knows some aspect of your life is not all that it’s cracked up to be but he would rather have you walk it out with him than to be right? If we spend time with God on these things, we have time to hear his ideas too. Taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ is like saying, “I thought my marriage would be different and I’m unhappy. Now what, God?” This would be healthy mature way to walk out such a difficult circumstance as opposed to being dispirited and angry because you’re not getting your needs met. Those feelings may be valid, but if we react to them without holding the thought-solutions captive, we get what we get – which is often destruction.
Mindsets are unfulfilled expectations that life is going to be one way only to turn out differently. The definition of a mindset is a belief that affects somebody’s attitude: a set of beliefs or a way of thinking that determines somebody’s behavior and outlook. If we are bringing a belief that things will be a certain way, that our church should be a certain way, we are actually lording over church in our minds without letting God sovereignly decide what he wants for that church. It wouldn’t be that bad if that’s where it ended, but in reality, most of us act on that belief. It’s as if we act the part of God, seeming disinterested in the idea that our ideas are not God’s ideas.
When we go into church with these mindsets, we often do so with expectations that we will get something in return for our attendance. In other words, if I show up, church should be this way or that way. We literally come with strings attached. We’re committing our time for something in return. This is not a good place to be. We need to get rid of all mindsets that are not put there by God. The difficulty with that comes in knowing the difference between our mindsets and God’s mindsets.