Missionaries struggle with their thought life. I struggle with my thought life. Being in the ministry and living in a different culture is hard. If you are living in a creative access country, i.e. China, then there is even more of a battle over the way you think. This is important because your thoughts affect your attitude and your attitude affect your life and ministry.
Here are three areas where we can start thinking negative thoughts:
Ministry Pressure – We feel unable to do the work of the ministry. We see the giant task in front of us and wonder how we could even make a small difference. We compare ourselves and allow the wrong kind of thoughts to creep into our life.
Culture Shock – We have to leave our way of life and learn someone else’s way of life. In this process we are in “shock” of how they do things and can think many negative thoughts about the people we are sent to reach.
Creative Access Countries – Fear is a big problem for people working in closed countries. It causes us to be scared of persecution and paralyzes the ministry, often times not even allowing us to do basic outreach.
If we don’t control our thinking, then in each of these areas we allow negative thoughts to come in and we will live a miserable and unproductive life. A life that will never seek God do great things. A life that will never adapt to and love the people. A life that will never see the joy in persecution or the furtherance of the gospel.
Maybe this is why Paul says “be careful for nothing” in Philippians 4:6 and then in verse 8 he tells the “brethren” to think on certain things. If our “thinking” affects our attitude and then our attitude can help/hurt our life, ministry and witness, then we need to find out the key to “thinking”. Paul gives us a prescription in verse 8, he says:
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
Each of these areas are all positive. He doesn’t prescribe for us to think on anything negative. We know what we have to do, we just need to reckon it to be true. That simply means we need to start doing it.
As we will see through out this series, it is more than just positive thinking, it is right thinking. We need to start thinking on things that are honest, just, pure, lovely, good report, virtuous, and praise worthy.