How Do I Change My Thinking?
This article was written by Clay Staires, Tulsa Leadership Trainer, Motivational Speaker & Founder of Tulsa’s #1 Leadership Program, The Leadership Initiative.
“Remove the dross from the silver and out comes material for the silversmith.”
What is “dross” in this verse? impurities in the silver old paradigms that hold me back from growing.
What is the silver? valuable substance my heart and mind
Who is responsible for removing it? the silversmith the Lord – as I give it to him.
Why is it removed? lessens the value, brittle keeps me from growing
How is it removed? heat! beat! cold water! struggle and difficulty
When do you know the silver is pure? when the silversmith can see his reflection –
when i discover my true identity in Him
Ok, now you see how “The Furnace” works. Not just the program, but the “ways” of the Lord. Remember: “Teach me your ways, that I may walk in your paths.” This is the Model Of Discipleship the Lord uses with us.
- There are misunderstandings inside our minds and hearts that have gotten there simply through the natural process of living life and interpreting our surroundings. These misunderstandings block us from being able to interpret correctly how God truly feels and thinks about us. We’re thinking wrongly!
- We were created to respond to Him! The only reason why we don’t is because of these misunderstandings.
- God will remove these misunderstandings from our hearts and minds.
- God wants to purify us from these misunderstandings so we can see Him rightly and, in turn, respond to Him rightly (which is our prayer too).
- The process will “feel” unnatural for us because it doesn’t line up with the way we think it should work. This “feeling” can be very uncomfortable and, many times, it can even confirm our misunderstandings about how God truly feels about us. The process has to involve this “challenging of our misunderstandings”; therefore, it requires action more than just intellect. The invitation during these “uncomfortable” times is to allow Him to remove the misunderstanding so we can see Him and His ways clearly. As we allow Him to do this, our eyes are open to the truth and we are able to SIMPLY RESPOND TO HIM in a right way!
- As long as we have the misunderstandings about how God feels and thinks about us, we will NOT be able to “naturally” respond to Him. It will always be a task to complete or a job that we never quite feel like we can do very well (sometimes we can other times we can’t).
A word of caution about dross… it’s real, it hides very well and it’s not something to joke about.
So, let’s begin the work!
Core Beliefs for the F1 Student
- To lead is to serve
- Leadership involves struggle
- Most struggles come from having to lead those you don’t want to serve
- The struggle reveals something about YOU not about someone else
- To move forward you must leave some things behind.
- The only way to truly lead in the midst of struggle is to become like Christ
Core Belief #1
To lead is to serve.
How should we define ‘LEADER’? We must have a common definition before we can be adequately prepared for it.
Is it possible to have a leadership position and NOT be a leader? YES NO
A leader is not just someone with a position. Leadership Is Influence! Some people are given leadership positions based upon skills, influence and personality. Some are even given leadership positions based upon political factors that have nothing to do with a person’s character or integrity. This is a sad injustice to a young leader, but they never notice it.
Poor (or immature) leadership will always use the people to serve the leader!
You know you have this mindset as soon as you look at your group and think… ‘the people are the problem’. As a result, we drive the people to produce results for us. People, and people development, become secondary to achieving my set goal.
If goals are not met, we often manipulate the people using fear or reward and call it “motivation”. This type of leadership is often loud and mean.
This isn’t necessarily ‘bad’ leadership, it’s just not SERVANT leadership and its focus is on what the people can produce for the leader.
To overcome this trap, it’s important to have good role models of proper servant leadership. One of the key qualities to look for in training young leaders is their history of sitting under a good teacher, or mentor. This shows that they are teachable and not just focused on gaining power. A major part of this mentoring should show their willingness to submit to the leadership over them. Unfortunately, many leaders never learn how to be led.
Core Belief #2
Leadership involves struggles.
Most often, young leaders look at leadership as a POSITION and use it as a way to feel powerful and to control others. They have been longing to feel powerful and they view this position as an outlet to be THE BOSS.
It’s very common to find people in a leadership position that have had struggles with authority and now that they are the authority they think it will be smooth sailing. Their struggle was with submitting to their leader and now that they are the leader they think they will no longer have to submit. “Now I get to call the shots”, they think.
The realization of the responsibility of leadership is a big surprise and can often lead to the new leader getting offended because of the struggles that come up while working with people. “I wasn’t supposed to have these struggles”, they think.
Most often, the struggles are blamed on the people they are leading rather than a character issues within themselves.
You can hear this in the leader that says, “If the people would only do what I’ve told them to do…” or “I can’t work with these people” or “I told them, they just don’t listen”. All of these are complaints that reveal the heart and mind of the leader.
This leader does not grow because they do not see. Their position is that the problem is with the people and this blinds them to the problem within themselves. The “problems” within themselves can easily be interpreted as “weakness and lack” in their leadership ability (which is true). It is our unwillingness to accept this “weakness and lack” in ourselves that causes us to blame others.
The invitation in the midst of struggle is to Embrace the Struggle!! Learn to function even in the midst of weakness (your weakness and the weakness of others).
Core Belief #3
Most struggles in leadership are the results of having to lead people you don’t want to serve.
This is the true test of servant leadership. Leadership will quickly reveal what’s in my heart as I encounter difficulty. Pressure and stress create heat and heat reveals dross. In literal terms:
Thoughts Þ Feelings Þ Beliefs Þ Decisions Þ Actions Þ Results
The way you THINK is the most important thing about you. If I am aware of my motivations, I can hear myself rationalizing “I shouldn’t have to serve them!” or “That’s not fair!” or “That’s mine!” or “I’m not doing that!” or “I just can’t work with that person!” or “I don’t have to put up with this!”
These are all indicators of immature leadership or an “unenlightened leader”. Have you ever had one of these? YES NO
This mindset is void of humility and cannot ever truly be trusted to care for others, as a good leader should. The best you may get is a “hireling”. Someone that will just do the work. However, when things get uncomfortable, you can plan on this person “leaving the sheep” to preserve themselves or their position.
This attitude is grounded in a ‘self’ centeredness that will always sacrifice the people to obtain the leaders own personal agenda and if a person is viewed as ‘incapable of helping me’, they will be discarded and looked over.
This is a test on the first level.
How often do you say these things? Do you feel like you should get to choose who you serve? Do you want to choose who you get to lead? What are your thoughts when someone you perceive to be “weak” is put onto your team?
Core Belief #4
God uses these struggles with others to teach us about ourselves.
- What if the struggles were a result of a weakness in me as a leader rather than in the people I’m leading.”
- What if their weakness was simply revealing my weakness?
What would change if we adopted more of this mindset?
How do you respond to weakness in others? (One Word) _______________________________
How do you respond to weakness in yourself? (One Word) _____________________________
How you respond to weakness in yourself will tell you something about how you will respond to weakness in others. You will always be confronted with negative self-thoughts. The question is “Do you have the inner force of ‘identity’ to overcome those negative self-thoughts?” If you’re not careful, these negative thoughts can dictate your feelings and trap you in being emotionally driven (decisions are based on feelings). This can make for a dramatic leader that you just don’t ever know what you’re going to get on a daily basis.
This is a very important lesson to learn in your personal development. Most of your life will be spent feeling weak and most of the stress of your life is caused from trying to avoid and/or overpower your weakness.
This comes from a mentality that “I must be strong”, “I can’t show weakness”. This goes back to the way we ‘think’ about our leadership ability and ourselves.
This mindset will always breed a ‘mean leader’ that others don’t responds to real well. The “Boss” that everyone obeys because of fear of the consequences. At best, it produces a perceived ‘perfect leader’ that no on relates to.
Core Belief #5
Change doesn’t come from simply ‘adding something on’.
True change can only come when something old is released so something new can be obtained. One of the most common misunderstandings in the making of a leader is the thought that for me to become a better leader is all about ‘adding’ something to my already long list of strengths.
Actually, to grow in maturity is to understand which ‘thoughts’ are healthy and which are not. As we learn new things, it is important to take inventory on what things need to be discarded. You cannot put new wine into old wineskins. The old cannot contain the new.
Remember talking about Evaluation? Someone that just continues “adding on” is someone that is ignorant of evaluation. As you learn new things, eventually something isn’t going to fit. Some new truth will come along, but it won’t fit into your box and, if you not careful, you’ll throw it out in order to hold on to the old, comfortable, familiar thoughts. Or, even worse, you hold on to both of them even though they are totally contradictory! This happens all the time because we don’t think about what we think!
It is in the struggle that you begin to find your true convictions and your values. Your words and actions as a leader will reveal what you call ‘truth’. To simply continue to add new thoughts to your life, will always lead to indifference. Be careful… the path of indifference leads to nowhere!
Core Belief #6
The only way to successfully lead in the midst of these struggles is to become like Christ and serve others
So we respond to weakness in a manner that makes us human; a way that makes it easier for others rather than harder.
We allow weakness to be revealed in us so we can grow. We allow weakness to be revealed in us so Christ can be shown strong (not us). Jesus is not interested in ‘you’ being strong. In fact, to lean on your own strength disqualifies you for leadership in the eyes of the Lord. (Prov. 3)
This doesn’t mean that you function ‘from’ your weakness. Weak leadership doesn’t help anyone. However, we must learn to function ‘in’ the reality of our weakness and limitations.
So, will you be willing to accept weakness in yourself without freaking out? How will you respond to weakness? Will you fight it and attempt to overcome it with strength or accept it and appear to be weak as you let Jesus change it.
You’re about to find out!