So, who’s ready to put 2020 in the rearview mirror?
If you are, then you’ll need to change your mindset.
A mindset is a set of beliefs about yourself, your circumstances, and your world that dictates your thoughts, attitudes, and actions. In some ways, your mindset is the bridge from your beliefs to your behaviors. And, according to Harvard researcher Carol Dweck, there are two overarching mindsets: a growth mindset and a fixed mindset.
A fixed mindset says that a person can’t change, can’t learn new things, can’t gain new skills, can’t improve their circumstances, and can’t hope for a better future. A growth mindset says that it’s never too late to learn, that failure is a great teacher, that every challenge is an opportunity, and that hope is available to anyone who is willing to move in its direction.
One of the best examples of a person with a growth mindset is the Apostle Paul. The way he saw the world and the people in the world changed when the way he saw Jesus changed. As he wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “…if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”
In Ephesians 3:20, Paul said that Christ is “able to do more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us…” If that’s true, then every follower of Jesus Christ should have a growth mindset as a natural outflow of believing in a Savior who conquered the grave.
And it’s that mindset that made Paul so effective at making Jesus known to countless numbers of people.
One of the passages that demonstrates Paul’s growth mindset is Philippians 4:10-13. In that passage, we find three mindset shifts that Paul made and that we need to make if we want to be effective ambassadors for Christ.
But I would also say that if you truly want to turn the page on a challenging year, and if you want to make 2021 a comeback year and a year of overcoming then these are three mindset shifts you need to make.
In Philippians 4:10-13, Paul wrote the following: (10) I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. (11) I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. (12) I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. (13) I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Did you see them?
The three mindset shifts are really a shift in focus. Paul made a conscious decision to focus on…
- Contentment instead of Complaining (vv. 11-12)
Paul said that he “learned” how to be content – that’s a growth mindset.
Contentment is not about settling; rather, it is the ability to accept reality and find the good in it. New Testament scholar Ralph Martin says this about Paul’s contentment: “In whatever conditions of life he finds himself, he discovers the will of God for his situation. This is not a fatalism or indolent acquiescence which cuts the nerve of ambition or smothers endeavor. It is, on the contrary, a detachment from anxious concern about the outward features of his life. This, in turn, arises from his concentration upon the really important things, the invisible and eternal and, above all, upon the closeness of his fellowship with Christ on whose strength he constantly draws.”
Contentment can never be discovered through complaining because complaining keeps a person focused on the negative concerns of life and blinds a person to the most important things of life.
2. Opportunity instead of Obstacles (v. 10)
The Christians at Philippi faced an obstacle in sending their financial support to Paul but they never lost sight of the opportunity to partner with Paul in spreading the Gospel of Christ. So, as soon as it was possible, they came through on their commitment.
2020 was a year of obstacles, but it was also a year full of great opportunity. The growth mindset is able to envision the opportunities that exist within any challenge. Focusing on the opportunities instead of the obstacles creates a “rising hope” that enables a person to be resilient and keep moving forward through the challenges.
Obstacles are not opportunities for giving up; they are opportunities to rise up.
3. Savior instead of Self (v. 13)
Paul’s “secret” for contentment was his focus on Christ. Jesus was the source of Paul’s amazing ability to overcome set-backs. Instead of being self-centered, Paul was Christ-centered which caused him to also be others-centered.
Those who serve others are more hope-filled and those who serve Christ experience more meaning and purpose in life. Choosing to focus on your Savior instead of yourself is one of the best ways to make the most of your days – even the bad ones.
These three shifts in focus and mindset allowed Paul to be effective in the Kingdom of God, no matter what circumstance he found himself in.
But these shifts were intentional choices that Paul made.
If we want 2021 to be a positive year, we will choose the same.