Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things - Philippians 4:8 NIV
My family saw an interesting sight the other day as we were headed to the recycling site (yes we try to do our part to save the planet) at the local high school. A herd of cows were walking on the street toward us as we were turning in to the parking lot. After getting over the initial shock, we noticed the reason for the cows roaming free. The gate had been left open and the cows took advantage of the opportunity to walk to their freedom. We drove to the farmhouse and notified the owner that his livestock was now on the loose. He hopped on his 4 wheeler and raced to the site. Suffice to say, the cows were safely directed back into the pasture and the gate securely locked. After experiencing this bit of weekend excitement, I reflected on the parallels of the cows getting out of the pasture with the destructive thoughts that we as men sometime allow to run rampant in our mind. Some of these thoughts that I am referring to relate to envy, lust, greed or malice. Like the farmer, I know that there are times that we forget to lock the gate that keeps these destructive thoughts in check and they are able to get out and roam free. Like the farmer, we need to be able to herd these thoughts back together and direct them back to the pasture and lock the gate. How to we do that? One of the things that works for me is to do as the scripture states: focus your thoughts on things that are true, lovely and admirable. I know that's it's easier said than done, so I have another strategy that I employ as well. I have come up with activities to engage in that will refocus my thinking. Some of these include: prayer, reading of scripture or working out. Anything to shift the focus from my destructive thoughts and start to begin the process of herding the negative thoughts back to where they belong. As the farmer learned and so should we, it's one thing to put the cows back where the belong. You also need to take the next step of securing the gate to prevent them from getting back out. We have to do the same. The process will be different for each individual. The key is to get started and figure out what works best for you.
ACTION PLAN: EXPERIMENT WITH ACTIVITIES THAT ARE DESIGNED TO SHIFT YOUR FOCUS FROM NEGATIVE DESTRUCTIVE THOUGHTS TO THOSE THAT ARE TRUE AND ADMIRABLE. ACCEPT THAT THE SUCCESSFUL IMPLEMENTATION OF THIS STRATEGY WILL NOT OCCUR OVERNIGHT.
Ken Sadler is a leader of Men's Ministry at a megachurch and has a heart and passion for helping men become the best they can be.