The fourth step in pastor health is mental health. The phrase "mental health" has a bad connotation because we immediately think of mental illnesses like depression or bipolar disorder. But I want to use that phrase in another way and talk about how to have healthy thoughts.
Throughout a normal day, your mind will be bombarded with thoughts and images ranging from pop-up ads on your smartphone to commercials during a ballgame. You can't control everything that enters your mind but you can determine what your mind focuses on. I'd like to share three ways you can have a healthy mind today.
Reject Negative Self-Speak
Everybody thinks to himself or herself. In our minds, we might think things about ourselves that are what psychologists call "negative self-speak." If you grew up in a verbally abusive home, you could have been told over and over that you are a failure, loser, or hopeless and so you have accepted those words to define yourself ("I am a loser"). As a result, you have a negative self-image and repeat critical words about yourself but nothing could be further from the truth!! As we talked about in week one, you are a marvelous creation of Almighty God (Psalm 139) and His child forever. There is no reason for you to think negative about yourself. When those thoughts enter your mind, reject them instantly.
Receive the Truth
Philippians 4:8 (emphasis mine) says,
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Paul lists a number of things we should all think about and then he says "think about these things." In order to be healthy mentally, we need to receive the truth about God and who we are in Christ. As Paul says, let your mind "think about" the positive things God says about you. It's not enough for us to reject the lies (negative self-speak). We also have to receive the truth ("think about these things").
Pastor, you have so much power within you. You have the power to change the trajectory of your life by what you think. And the Bible is filled with so much truth about who you are as a creation and in Christ. You can be positive about you because God is!
Make Daily Declarations
I recently listened to a Catalyst Podcast with Craig Groeschel (Episode 407). In the podcast, he shares about some of the disciplines he has developed over the past decade including a new discipline he calls, "daily declarations." Craig says that he starts each day with about forty declarations regarding his life. Here are just a few:
- Jesus is first in my life.
- I exist to serve and glorify Him.
- I love my wife and will lay down my life to serve her.
- I love people and believe the best about others.
- Christ in me is stronger than the wrong desires in me.
He says that this "renews his mind" and I think it is a great habit for all of us to start. If we declare the truths from God's Word about ourselves then we will live them out. Thinking always precedes doing. We can't live a healthy life if we aren't thinking healthy first.
What truth or truths do you need to fill your mind with today? Your Father wants you to think well. You do that when you reject the lies, receive the truth, and make daily declarations.