God builds godly character in us by guiding and enabling us to choose righteousness throughout the years of our lives. The internal effect of godly character is that it reforms our mindset and our will. For example, as we grow to choose truth over deceit, this begins to slowly work its way into our perspective and decision-making (mindset) and in our choices (will).
Mindset: A fixed mental attitude or disposition that predetermines a person’s responses to and interpretations of situations.
This paper will focus on ways that God forges our mindset as an effect of the godly values (righteousness) that He plants in us. A formal definition of mindset is a fixed mental attitude or disposition that predetermines a person’s responses to and interpretations of situations.1 In the Bible, God gives us several clear examples of the importance of our mindset.
At a critical point in Christ’s ministry, in which He is instructing his disciples on His upcoming crucifixion, he confronts and rebukes one of his closest followers because of that person’s misguided mindset. The follower was Peter, and the confrontation comes immediately after Peter rebukes Jesus for saying that He will go to Jerusalem, suffer assault by the religious leaders, be killed and resurrected in three days. When Jesus confronts Peter, He says to him, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” Jesus’ words are one of the strongest rebukes by Him recorded in the New Testament. His rebuke is not merely for Peter’s words, but moreover for the mindset behind his words. Peter had not set his mind on the things of God but only on the things of man.
Peter heard Christ’s prophetic words of his imminent death and resurrection. As these words landed into his mind that he had set on the things of man, he heard them not as the fulfillment of God’s plan for our forgiveness and salvation, but rather as an unthinkable sequence of events that would disrupt Christ’s ministry. This mindset was so dominant in his thinking that it fueled his audacity to rebuke Christ. His was a dominant and deeply entrenched mindset that misdirected how he understood and acted in that context.
So what makes up a godly mindset? Philippians 2:1-11 gives us the answer. Verse 2 gives us two specific aspects of this mindset: being of the same mind and being of one mind. These particulars tell us that the mindset that God calls us to is one that is shaped by and in sync with Christian community. We know from Paul’s and Barnabas’ disagreement concerning John Mark that being of the same mind or being of one mind is not always achieved.2 However, Proverbs 18:1-2 warns us that doing our thinking separated from others is often a cover for selfish willfulness and assertiveness. This is precisely why Philippians 2:3-4 calls us to do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit and to not look only to our own interests. A godly mindset is one that counts others as more significant than ourselves and that looks out for the interests of others.
To have a godly mindset, God must give us grace and guidance as we work out our thinking as a member of the Christian community. This requires humility and submissiveness as well as at times, patience and courage.
Philippians 2:5-11 shows us a picture of what this mindset looks like. It looks like Jesus. We’re to “… have the same mindset as Christ Jesus” (v. 5, NIV). He perfectly models being of the same mind and being of one mind with God the Father in all things, including the plan for humankind’s salvation. Christ’s mindset required humility and submissiveness, as well as patience and courage. He aimed to honor His Father by counting us as more significant than Himself and sacrificing Himself in looking out for our interests.
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.Philippians 2:5
It is Christ’s mindset that God wants us to have. This mindset moves us away from understanding and acting according to man’s perspective and toward understanding and acting according to God’s perspective. This is the mindset that God wants for every God-honoring leader.
If our mindset is the thought framework that informs how we understand our context and decide accordingly in it and if God wills for us to have the same mindset as Christ’s, then we must understand other aspects of Christ’s mindset that God gives us in His Word. At Leadership Edge, we’ve observed five perspectives that God builds into most of the leaders that we’ve served. These perspectives guide these leaders as to how to understand and assess their various spheres of influence. Each of these was modeled perfectly by Christ.
The Glory and Honor of God in All Things
Many New Testament passages speak of God the Father giving honor and glory to Christ His Son. Christ Himself spoke of this often. Many New Testament passages also identify our purpose as being to bring honor and glory to God. It is important to note that two times immediately before Christ’s crucifixion, He states that His goal is to bring glory to the Father. After He enters Jerusalem in the days leading up to his betrayal and crucifixion, Christ says, “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” (John 12:27-28). And in what is known as Christ’s high priestly prayer, which He prayed the night before His death, He prays the following, “I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.” (John 17:4). Because of this overarching mindset that God be glorified through His faithful obedience, it is no surprise that the prayer that Jesus taught His disciples to pray begins with, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be thy name.” (Matthew 6:9).
We see a mindset of the glory and honor of God in all things as the foundational mindset for God-honoring leaders. This is the mindset of Paul, who while imprisoned for his faithful obedience in Christ, wrote the following, “… as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.” (Philippians 1:20). It is this mental and willful commitment, fueled by God’s grace, that is both foundational to and overarches all other Christian mindsets and obediences.
The development of this mindset in a leader puts him/her in daily tension with the world, their own flesh, and the devil. All three of these are set every day against God being honored or glorified in anything. It is in the context of this daily tension that the value of God’s honor and glory in all things is hardened into a mindset, as over and over again during the course of the day, small choices are made against the pull of the world, their own flesh, and the devil and for God’s honor and glory at any cost and in all areas. This mindset is reflected in the command from Scripture that says, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (I Corinthians 10:31).
Leaders who read their contexts according to a God-honoring, God-glorifying mindset stay aware of the following:
- Leaders who live and lead for the glory and honor of God must be vigilant to see those boundaries that cannot be crossed in their decisions and actions.
- These leaders realize that this mindset can be eroded as they give into expedient or self-serving actions.
- Diminished awareness of the vibrancy of Christ in their lives and isolation from interactions with others who will sharpen them can also lead to the erosion of this mindset.
- Leaders who live and lead for the glory and honor of God find the strength to do so, not ultimately in themselves but in God, their Father, who strengthens them to stand.
The other four mindsets described below flow out of and are dependent upon a mindset of God’s honor and glory in all things. All five of these mindsets require God-given, disciple-choosing courage to follow when stakes are high and faith and faithfulness are costly.
A mindset of humility continually points us to see our dependence upon God for everything and to come to Him with our needs. This perspective is at the core of God-honoring leadership because it honors God as we humble ourselves and trust Him for all that we need in life (Micah 6:6-8; Philippians 4:6-7). Scripture tells us that a mindset of humility is like a mindset of wisdom (Proverbs 11:2; 22:4).
When humility becomes a mindset, it guides us to understand ourselves as servants and to act as servants in the contexts in which God leads us (Philippians 2:3-11). We come to realize that as Scripture says, our humility is honored by God with the grace that we need in all of life (I Peter 5:5; James 4:6).
The way that humility moves from being a value to a mindset is as, by His grace, we choose over and over again to humble ourselves, to serve God and others and then see the blessing He brings to us and others through doing so.
Christ is the perfect example for us of humility; this is wonderfully explained in Philippians 2:5-11. Moreover, as stated earlier, we’re called by God to have His mindset of humility (Philippians 2:5). By His grace, over time, leaders grow to honor him as humility becomes a daily mindset and practice.
A mindset of wisdom guides us to assess our contexts according to God’s Word and God’s character and to act accordingly. Proverbs 3:5-6 points us to this as it says, “… do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him …” God-honoring leaders learn to look at life through God’s eyes, not merely through their own, because they realize that their perspective is always limited. Paul speaks of this limited human perspective in I Corinthians 13:12 that says “now (in this life) we see in a mirror dimly … Now I know in part …”
God-honoring leaders over time build a habit of understanding the circumstances of all their relationships—marriage, family, career, community and church as the Bible tells us God sees them. They do so out of their reverence for the Lord (The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Psalm 111:10). They seek God’s wisdom as they make decisions, both small and large. These leaders realize that God has given them a brain and reasoning capacity. However, they also realize that now they see in a mirror dimly and only know in part (I Corinthians 13:12). They recognize their need for God’s wisdom and by His grace, habitually seek it and live according to it. In this way, wisdom becomes a mindset for them.
Christ is the perfect example of this mindset. On the one hand, the Bible says that He is the wisdom of God (I Corinthians 1:24). On the other hand, the Bible also tells us that while on earth, Christ continually looked to His Father to guide His judgment, speech and actions (John 5:19; 5:30; 6:38; 8:28; 12:49-50; 14:10). Christ’s practice of looking to His Father in all things is a picture of His humility and submissiveness to God in all things. Christ exemplifies for us a model of living in reverence of God, which is the beginning of wisdom.
Intentionality: The fact of being deliberate or purposive.
The Oxford Dictionary of English defines intentionality as “the fact of being deliberative or purposive.” Intentionality for a Christian leader is born out of a deep belief that one’s life has a God-given, biblically stated purpose for which God empowers us and to which we’re accountable to God to accomplish. Christian author and social critic Os Guinness speaks of this purposefulness as consisting of a primary and secondary calling from God. The primary calling is that we are called “by Him, to Him and for Him.” The secondary calling is that “everyone, everywhere and in everything should think, speak and live and act entirely for Him.” In Leadership Edge mentoring we get at purposefulness with our Personal Vision Statement: By God’s grace, to step forward as God’s man/woman, in my spheres of influence, to serve His purposes, for His glory.
To honor God with our lives and leadership, we must tenaciously pursue the purposes to which God calls us. This conviction leads us to daily choices of intentionality in our speech and actions and in how we spend our resources, such as our time, talent, treasure and focus. Paul gives us vivid examples of this sort of intentionality in passages such as I Corinthians 9:19-27, Philippians 3:7-14 and II Timothy 4:7. Hebrews 12:1-3 similarly actively portrays this kind of intentionality. Intentionality becomes a mindset as by God’s grace, we daily choose against the misdirections for the world, our flesh and the devil and choose to live all of our lives for Him.
The Bible says that Jesus set His face as He moved toward His betrayal, persecution, death and resurrection. This phrase set His face is most likely informed by Isaiah 50:7 that says, “… I have set my face like a flint.” Christ’s purpose was to honor His Father by going to Jerusalem and there have God’s wrath poured out upon Him so that we may be forgiven and deemed righteous by God. His was a mindset of flint-like intentionality. By His grace that empowers our daily choices, ours is to be the same.
A mindset of resilience guides us to understand adversity and failure as a context in which God can restore and improve us as we trust in Him, draw our strength from Him and do what he calls us to do.
Proverbs 24:16 tells us that the righteous falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in times of calamity. All people stumble and fall; all at times fail. The challenge is to, by the grace of God, get back up and keep getting back up through the years of life. Sometimes we fall due to our foolishness and sin and either give up or pridefully get back up with an unrepentant heart or an uncorrected mind. At other times we fall due to hurtful things done to us from which we give up, grow embittered or strike out with anger. Regardless of the source and effect of the fall, the challenge is to get back up and to do so by the grace of God.
Godly wisdom (God’s perspective on life and all that occurs in it), humility (our deep dependence upon God for everything) and intentionality (our commitment to live out His purposes for us) must temper the Christian leader’s resilience. As this occurs, he understands how to get back up, goes to God for the strength to do so and understands why he must keep getting back up. Choosing daily to get back up by wisdom, humility and intentionality is how resilience grows from being an occasionally practiced value to a default mindset. Paul gives us a vivid description of what this looks like in II Corinthians 4:7-12, 16-18.
Christ exemplified resilience as He daily confronted the ignorance, selfishness, foolishness, sinfulness and evil of humankind during His earthly life. One wonders if His repeated times alone in prayer (Mark 1:35 and Luke 5:16) were partly due to His need for His Father’s strength to push through the above-mentioned failings of those around Him. Christ’s resilience was not getting back up due to fallings and failings. His resilience was a perseverance through all that would distract Him from honoring His Father through securing our salvation (Hebrews 12:2-3). In this again, He is our perfect example. May His resilient perseverance fuel us to daily choose to, by His grace, get back up and move forward to that which He has called us.
The mindset of a Christian leader daily guides us to understand our context as God does and to act in it as would please Him. We are to develop our mindset in a Christian community with Christ as our primary model. Biblical values become a God-honoring mindset as, by His grace, we daily choose to think and live according to them. Over the last 26 years, we’ve seen God consistently build the mindset of wisdom, humility, intentionality and resilience in the lives of hundreds of leaders. In all of this, may He be honored and glorified.
- American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Mindset differs from worldview in the following ways. Our worldview is our macro-level understanding of creation, its source and the purpose of all that happens in it. Our mindset is a learned perspective that informs how we understand our immediate context and how we act in it. Mindset is the cognitive assessment tool derived from values being formed into character.
Our worldview answers questions such as, “What is the meaning of life?” Our mindset informs how we understand and act in specific contexts, such as when we are wrestling to endure through tough seasons of life.
- See Acts 15:36-41.