Your mind is a special gift from God. It can potentially store 100 trillion thoughts. And it is a tool that God wants to use in your ministry to fulfill his purposes.
Yet there are a lot of people fighting for access to that mind of yours. Years ago I read a book on advertising by Jack Trout and Al Reece called Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind. The book opened my eyes to all the people fighting for our attention. The fact is people are intentionally planning, 24-hours a day, to get our attention.
That's why we have to be choosy. We have to control what – or who – we allow into our minds. What's true of computers is true with humans – garbage in, garbage out.
To do that, Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 10:5 to "capture every thought and make it give up and obey Christ." (NCV) The Bible is very specific at giving us five things that we are to guard our minds against. Share these with your staff members and the key leaders of your church.
1. We are to guard our minds against false teaching. First and foremost we need to watch out for doctrinal errors that can divert us from the true Gospel. Scripture encourages us to contend for, "The faith which was once and for all delivered to the saints." (Jude 1:3 NKJ) That means the message has been around for awhile. In fact, I tell my people "If it's new, it's not true" – because the biblical faith we believe is the one that was handed down from "the saints."
How do you guard your mind against false teachings? Know the truth. If you know the truth, you can instantly spot a lie. Treasury agents are not trained to detect counterfeiting by handling counterfeit bills. They give them real bills and study them so well that when a counterfeit dollar bill is put in their hands, they immediately know that it's false.
2. We are to guard our minds against temptation. Psalm 101:3 says, "I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless." (ESV) That's a good verse to put on your television. When was the last time you actually got up and switched channels because what you were seeing was worthless? A. W. Tozer says "America has lost its ability to blush."
If we're going to guard our minds we have to be careful about what we watch because it causes temptation. The Bible says very clearly that sin starts with a thought. You sow a thought, you reap an action. You sow an action, you reap a habit. You sow a habit, you reap a character. And it destroys you. The mind is a strategic battlefield, and if Satan can get your thought life, he's going to get you. So those harmless fantasies are not harmless at all.
When I start to feel tempted, I often say, "Lord, I mentally put on the helmet of salvation that Scripture talks about in Ephesians 6:17." What does a helmet do? It protects your mind. When I do this, I'm saying, "Lord, I want you to cover my mind with your blood. I will be guarding my mind from temptation."
3. We are to guard our minds against counterfeit spiritual experiences. Those who don't do this end up in a cult. Galatians 1:6-8 says even if an angel tells you something different than what the Word of God says, don't believe him. A lot of times these so-called Holy Spirit inspired flashes come from the devil – or because you ate a bad pizza. I believe the Holy Spirit works calmly and deliberately.
4. We are to guard our minds against pride. Pride is the sin that God judges quicker than any other single sin. Aaron got prideful, and God smote him. Uzziah got prideful, and God smote him. Pride is the sin that got Satan kicked out of Heaven. As a leader, you'll be tempted by this. People will tell you things that will puff you up. You have to remain humble and not let pride enter your mind.
5. We are to guard against an overworked mind. As pastors, this is one of our greatest areas of failure. We strain our minds too much. This can cause failure in your life. The constant study, reading, and dealing with people overworks our minds and lowers our ability to make sound judgments. That's why we need to be taking a day of rest every week. Either we get away or we'll come apart.
Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and best-known churches. In addition, Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose-Driven Life and The Purpose-Driven Church, which was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th Century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for ministers. Copyright 2005 Pastors.com, Inc. Used with permission. All rights reserved.