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Silence the Unhealthy Soundtracks in Your Head

Have you ever had trouble getting a song out of your head?

It can easily happen after you’ve heard a few notes from your kids’ favorite Disney movie soundtrack. The same goes for the commercial with the catchy jingle or that overplayed song on the radio. Before you know it, you are humming along and then you can’t seem to stop what becomes an endless loop! You can drive yourself crazy!

If you can relate, then you probably understand what it feels like to get a particular thought stuck in your head. For Christian leaders, these thoughts are usually negative, take on a life of their own and most definitely hold leaders back.

I recently asked a group of ministry leaders to list the internal self-talk thoughts and mindsets that can hold leaders back. Here’s just a sampling:

  • You’re in way over your head.
  • You’re going to fail.
  • You’re not as gifted as __________________.
  • How do I keep ________________ happy?
  • What will people think?
  • It all depends on me.
  • I’m afraid of ______________________.
  • You’re alone in this, nobody cares and nobody can help.
  • If only we had _______________ then we’d see God move and experience growth.

Do any of these “songs” or similar ones ever play in your head? If they do and you don’t quickly shut them down, then you and your leadership will pay a hefty price.

Your mind and what you think about matters. Actually, that’s a big understatement! Let me try again: Your mind really really really matters. A key action of the Greatest Commandment is to love God with all your mind (Mark 12:30). You are also called to not be “…conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2).

Here are two key steps to taking charge of the “songs” in your head and living out God’s desire for your mind:

1) Fix Your Eyes on God

When your thoughts dwell on yourself, others or your circumstances, you can quickly get into trouble. Instead, you and I need to “…throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2).

In fixing our eyes on Jesus, we are taking our mind off ourselves, others and our circumstances, and training our mind to focus on God. As Thomas Watson beautifully wrote long ago, “The first fruit of love is the musing of the mind upon God. He who is in love, his thoughts are ever upon the object…By this we may test our love to God. What are our thoughts most upon? Can we say we are ravished with delight when we think on God? Oh, how far are they from being lovers of God, who scarcely ever think of God!”

All of us need a bigger, clearer and fuller picture of the truth and magnitude of who God is. A central way to develop this picture is to cultivate relationship with God through Scripture. I’ve found each of these three ingredients critical:

  • A clear plan for engaging God’s Word;
  • A set aside place; and
  • A pre-scheduled time to be in God’s Word each day.

2) Shut Down Unhealthy Soundtracks

You and I have both the choice and ability to shut down unhealthy soundtracks. As Dallas Willard writes in Renovation of the Heart, “The ultimate freedom we have as human beings is the power to select what we will allow our minds to dwell upon.”

This means that when an unhealthy soundtrack starts playing in your head, you need to shut it down. This is living out Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 10:5, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

Taking thoughts captive and making them obedient to Christ can start by prayerfully (and even verbally) rejecting the unhealthy or sinful thoughts. Call them what they are. Then change the mental channel by fixing your eyes on God and declaring specific truth. Seek to shut down the soundtrack as soon as possible. The longer you let the unhealthy soundtrack play, the harder it is to shut down.

Some closing reflection questions:

  • What internal self-talk, thoughts and mindsets hold you back?
  • How can you fix your focus more firmly on God?
  • What soundtrack do you need to shut down?

Cheering you on,

PS. Do you need a tune-up in your leadership? If you long to sharpen your focus and go to the next level, Arrow’s new Leadership Tune-Up can help. This 90-minute one-to-one skype coaching session with a seasoned Arrow coach will provide you with a customized plan of action and practical tools to guide your growth in 2018. Learn more at:

6 Keys to Developing Others (from the Best Book I’ve Found)

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When I’m asked to recommend resources on developing others, my first response often surprises people. My go-to book has been around a long time! It’s the Bible’s 1 Thessalonians. Written by the Apostle Paul around AD 52, this short letter powerfully illustrates Paul’s heart and practice in developing people. It’s simple, practical and profound.

Here are six keys from 1 Thessalonians that will guide, challenge and encourage you in developing others: Continue Reading

Leader, Drop Your Net

Remember when you “left your net?”

At once they left their nets and followed him” (Matt. 4:20, NIV).

A curious thing has been happening with me lately. I have begun to pick up my net again. 

Let me explain. I am soon turning forty. This represents almost nineteen years since God first invited me to drop my net and follow him into vocational ministry. I remember the moment like it was yesterday. I walked away from a corporate career to take a youth pastor role in a church that boasted just three teenagers in their youth group. This response of saying yes to Jesus instantly reduced my salary by 60%. 

Dropping my net created the need to navigate the dismay of loved ones who had invested in my education to boost my corporate career. My “yes” to Jesus also meant relocating to a tiny two traffic light city in a county – seemingly a land that time had forgotten. Yet, I did it all with a smile. In saying “yes” to Jesus I was full of hope, expectation, passion to change the world and a resolve to endure whatever would come my way.

So, what happened? Continue Reading

Flying in Formation

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How’s your team?

Teams are critical to accomplish the mission God has called us to: a collection of people with shared passion and vision; a variety of skills, gifts and abilities; energy to propel us forward. There’s nothing better than a team flying in formation.

Yet, good teams don’t just happen. In the midst of purposeful work and rolling schedules, thinking about how to intentionally develop your teams can get pushed aside and eventually lead to breakdown in relationships, communication and effectiveness.

Don’t despair. We have a great resource to share with you; one that can help you lead your team to new heights. “Flying in Formation” provides almost two hours of training with a PowerPoint presentation and handbook for personal and team development – all this is free for you to access and use with your team. Continue Reading

When Life Takes a Turn…

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One year ago, I answered a phone call no parent wants to receive: “your son is unconscious and being taken by ambulance to a trauma hospital.” Jason, almost 20, had left our home a few hours earlier to play in a rugby game.

Our one-hour drive to the hospital was filled with silence and nervous energy as we anticipated the unknown. What would we find? What would our future hold? Continue Reading

The Power of a Single Question

| General Leadership, To The Point | Comments Off on The Power of a Single Question

“What’s your greatest temptation?”

This question came to mind while praying for someone I was mentoring. Whether this question or another, great questions provide possibilities for awareness, growth and transformation. Specifically around the temptation question, I was convicted that this question is worth personal reflection for all Christ-followers and particularly critical for leaders.

Why the Temptation Question?
Scripture teaches that the enemy of God tempts God’s children. Remember his question to Eve in the garden, “Did God really say…?” (see Gen. 3). His tempting approach with Adam and Eve twisted truth, created confusion and communicated false promises. Continue Reading

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