Five Ways Leaders Must Guard Their Minds by Rick Warren
Leaders are readers. Leaders are learners. And leaders are definitely thinkers. Your mind is a special gift from God. It’s one of the most important tools in a leader’s arsenal. Your mind can potentially store 100 trillion thoughts, yet the average person only uses 3½ million thoughts a year. We only use about ten percent of our mental (or brain) capacity.
While our minds can be the epicenter of creative and influential leadership, our minds are also battlegrounds that must be guarded. All moral failure begins in the mind. 1 Peter 1:13 says, “Prepare your minds for action. Be self-controlled.” Notice that self-control and mental preparation go together. God says that the self-controlled person is the mentally fit person. We can love God with our minds. We’ve often talked about loving God with our hearts but God says we can love Him with our mind. I believe that God wants you to make the most of your mind. As that commercial says, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”
We battle an old sinful nature that often clouds our thinking. We live in a world that bombards us with false and counterfeit philosophies. And we have an enemy who is constantly on the prowl seeking to devour us. So how do we guard our minds well? Control what you allow in.
2 Corinthians 10:5 says, “Take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” The Bible is very specific in giving us five threats we are to guard our minds against. Share this list with your staff members and the key leaders of your church.
We are to guard our minds against false teaching.
Doctrinal errors, being diverted from the gospel, will run our minds. Scripture talks about “the faith once delivered to the saints.” That means it’s been around. The message of the gospel has never changed. I often say at Saddleback, “If it’s new, it’s not true.” So we’re to guard our minds against false teachings and false religions.
How do we do that? By knowing the truth. If you know the truth, you can instantly spot a lie. Treasury agents are trained to detect counterfeit not by handling counterfeit bills. They give them real bills and study them so well that when a counterfeit dollar bill is put in their hands, they immediately know that it’s false.
We are to guard our minds against temptation.
The Bible says in Matthew 26:41 that we are to “Watch and pray to avoid temptation.”Psalm 101:3 says “I will set no wicked thing before my eyes.” That’s a good verse to put on your television, your computer screen, and even your mobile devices. A. W. Tozer said, “America has lost its ability to blush.” If we’re going to guard our mind we have to guard what we watch and look at online because it causes temptation.
The Bible says very clearly that sin starts with a thought. You sow a thought, you reap an action. You sow an action, you reap a habit. You sow a habit you reap a character. And it destroys you. The mind is a strategic battlefield and if Satan can get your thought life, he’s going to get you. So those harmless fantasies are not harmless at all. We are to guard our minds against temptation.
When I start to feel tempted, I often say, “Lord, I mentally put on the helmet of salvation that scripture talks about in Ephesians 6:17.” The battle is in the mind. What does a helmet do? It protects your mind. It’s saying, “Lord, I want You to cover my mind with Your blood. I will be guarding my mind from temptation.”
We are to guard our minds against counterfeit spiritual experiences.
The people who don’t do this end up in cults. Galatians 1:6-8 says even if an angel comes and tells you something different than what the word of God says you’re not to believe him. I believe the Holy Spirit works calmly and deliberately. There are a number of Scriptures you can look up that will help you guard against counterfeit spiritual experiences, and remember that Scripture is objective truth, which is always authoritative over our subjective experiences.
We are to guard our minds against pride.
Pride is the sin that God judges quicker than any other single sin and it’s the real root of many other kinds of sin in our lives. Pride is the sin that resulted in Satan being kicked out of heaven. As a leader, this is a temptation because people will tell you things that will puff you up. I say praise and criticism are like bubble gum, You chew on them but you don’t swallow them. The right attitude is to have an attitude of humility.
Philippians tells us to “Have the mind of Christ who, even though being like God, took on Himself the form of a servant.” He humbled Himself. So we’re to guard against a prideful mind.
We are to guard against an overworked mind.
This is one of the greatest areas of failure, I believe, for pastors. We strain our minds too much. This can cause failure in your life. The constant study, the constant reading, the constant dealing with people overworks your mind and it lowers your ability to make sound judgments. Jesus told His disciples in Mark 6:31 “Come apart with Me for a while,” or you’re going to come apart. We need to guard our minds from an overworked mind.
Epic failure begins in small ways in the mind. Your influence and your impact as a leader is too important to allow poor mental habits or sinful thinking to ruin your ministry. No matter what, guard your mind.