When Negative Thinking Stands in the Way of Following God's Call
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:2 (NLT)
Several years ago, I went to a summer camp for girls with my daughter Kaitlyn. One of the group activities Kaitlyn looked forward to was the high ropes and zip-line course. Her enthusiasm was so contagious … I even put my name on the list to participate.
The time came to put on our safety gear and listen to the guide for basic instructions. As we patiently waited in line, Kaitlyn became more and more excited, but I grew more and more nervous.
As I watched each girl clip her carabiner to the rope, climb her way up the towering tree to the first platform landing and carefully walk the tight ropes from tree to tree, my heart began to race, and my inner voice of doubt began working overtime: What was I thinking when I agreed to this craziness? Why would anyone want to climb all the way up there anyway? What if I get up there and I’m too scared to get back down? What if my rope breaks loose, and I fall to my death? Mercy.
The more I doubted my abilities, the more my confidence sunk. As I allowed negative thoughts (even some irrational ones) to fill my mind, the likelihood of actually going through with this activity greatly diminished. The longer I let other people go ahead of me in line, intentionally trying to postpone my certain, impending doom, the more I convinced myself I couldn’t accomplish this task, and I didn’t really want to anyway.
Unfortunately, my turn finally came, and I began slowly and hesitantly making my way up the tree — with zero percent confidence and 100 percent doubt. No more than 30 seconds had passed when I caved to my fears. I immediately climbed right back down the tree, took off my safety gear and surrendered defeat. I went right back to my comfort zone where it seemed safer.
I peered into the tops of the trees, watching Kaitlyn move safely from one high platform to the next.
She was enjoying a view and a sense of accomplishment I would now never experience. I regretted letting negative thoughts sidetrack my confidence and ability to push past pessimistic doubts. When she zoomed down the zip-line and landed gently in the cool lake water below, I was suddenly aware of how much negative thinking can sidetrack the best of intentions.
Missing out on this activity wasn’t really a big deal in the big scheme of life. But I couldn’t help but wonder how many big things I’d missed in the past because of negative thinking — like pursuing God’s call on my life.
I thought back to times when I knew God called me to share my testimony, but I’d allowed fears of judgment or shame to silence me.
I considered the years I wasted not writing and speaking for His kingdom, my negative thoughts convincing me I wasn’t worthy or qualified to do either.
I recalled a time God had nudged me to serve in a certain ministry capacity at church, but I’d let negative thinking sink my confidence and faith.
When we allow negative thinking to take up residence in our minds, our thoughts will become an obstacle to our obedience. Pessimistic thinking — whether about our life, our self-worth or our abilities — will always stand in the way of following God’s call.
Romans 12:2 assures us when we invite God to transform our minds and change how we think, He’ll do exactly that: “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”
Negative thinking can keep us from pursuing God’s call to be a leader in His kingdom. But the good news is, we don’t have to let it. Intentionally choosing to put aside negative thoughts about ourselves or assignments God gives us empowers us to stand strong when the enemy tries to thwart our efforts.
When our thoughts are positive, our hearts will be too, and obedience will flow more naturally.
Lord, forgive me for letting fears and doubts get in the way of my obedience. Give me the strength and desire to step out in faith and trust that I am equipped and capable in Your strength. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Matthew 8:26, “Jesus responded, ‘Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!’ Then he got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm.” (NLT)
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
How has God been calling you to step out in faith, but you’ve been hesitant to obey due to fear or insecurity?
What is one thing you can do today to take a baby step toward what you feel God has laid on your heart?