Guard Your Mind

 In Pastor Jeff's Blog

More than anything you guard, protect your mind, for life flows from it. – Proverbs 4:23 CEB

Watching your heroes fall is painful.

Over the last few months multiple stories have surfaced about the sexual misconduct of Bill Hybels, Senior Pastor of Willow Creek Community Church. Under Hybels’ leadership Willow Creek became one of the most influential churches in the world. And Bill was one of my heroes. I learned so much about leadership and integrity from him, only to discover that he struggled with his own integrity.

Hybels is just one of many men whose life of sexual abuse and misconduct has been exposed. Which ought to cause every man to seriously consider the question, “How do I maintain my integrity?”

I keep going back to something I learned from yet another pastoral hero of mine – Charles Swindoll. Swindoll taught me that sin doesn’t usually happen in the heat of the moment. It doesn’t begin with the body. It starts in the mind. If I fanaticize about violent revenge against my enemies I’m much more likely to fly off the handle when someone rudely cuts me off in traffic. If I allow sexual fantasies to run freely in my mind, I’m much more likely to give into temptation if the opportunity presents itself.

In other words, if you want to maintain your integrity, guard your thoughts. Pay attention to what you allow to grow and develop in your mind. Your thoughts are not innocent. They are powerful. The notion that you’re not hurting anyone with your fantasies is naïve and opens you to the kind of evil that profoundly impacts your life and the life of others.

Submit your thought-life to God. Give the Holy Spirit free reign to examine your thoughts, convict you of sin and transform your mind (Romans 12:2). You’re worth the investment.

Chances are, you are somebody’s hero. And watching your heroes fall is painful. So guard your thoughts.

Jeff Marian is lead pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville, MN

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