I travel a lot and rent many cars. Sometimes when I turn the engine of a rental on there is something playing on the radio I do not like. Wouldn’t it be foolish if I thought, “Oh no! Now I need to listen to that for this whole trip.” If you were my friend, you would say something like, “Steve, you are powerful. You can change the channel and listen to what you want to listen to.”
Just as in the natural, there are spiritual channels we can tune into in our thinking and self-talk. The devil has some popular channels like:
- You Are a Failure Channel
- It’s Too Late Channel
- There Are No Solutions Channel
We know we are listening to the wrong channel if what we hear does not give us hope. Even when God corrects us there will be hope. “Now may the God of hope fill you . . . in believing” (Romans 15:13).
Sometimes it seems impossible to change the channel in our self-talk. This reminds me of a brand new car I rented a few months ago. When I started it, there was something playing I did not like, and I could not figure out how to change the channel. I pushed on arrows on the screen, turned knobs, and I did everything I knew to do, but could not change what I was listening to. Finally, after about 30 minutes, I figured it out. I also believe you will figure out how to change your thought life, even if it takes a while. Here are five wisdom keys to help you do so:
- Take care of yourself – “(Elijah) said, ‘It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life . . .’ Then . . . suddenly an angel touched him, and said to him, ‘Arise and eat’” (1 Kings 19:4-5). Elijah was definitely listening to the wrong channel in his thinking. Even though he had just experienced major, supernatural spiritual victory against the prophets of Baal, now he was afraid and suicidal. God’s solution is simple – “Eat something.” Some of our negative self-talk results from not getting enough rest, eating poorly, not exercising, or being vitamin deficient. Focusing on these kinds of things will help many.
- Move forward in your life – “And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Why do you cry to Me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward’” (Exodus 14:15). As they moved forward, there was breakthrough. Also, when Nehemiah was tempted to go down into the valley of Ono to talk with his enemies he said, “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?” (Nehemiah 6:3). Those who are moving forward in life and believe they are doing a great work will be less prone to listen to lies in their self-talk (because they do not have time to do so).
- Utilize the power of “thank you” – “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). We will stay on God’s peace channel when we utilize the power of thanksgiving. “Thank you, Father, that you are meeting my needs, moving in my family, turning all things to good in my life, and giving me great clarity in decision making.” As we make declarations of thanking Him for His promises and for what we have prayed, we move into a peace that surpasses understanding. Remember, you cannot think a lie when speaking the truth.
- Feed on testimonies and on what God is doing – “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things” (Philippians 4:8). I am on staff at Bethel Church in Redding, California. Senior Leader Bill Johnson’s revelation on the goodness of God is fueled by feeding on his faithfulness (Psalm 37:3). He relentlessly directs us to share and listen to testimonies of what God has done. It greatly helps in keeping us on the right channel.
- Celebrate progress, not perfection – Perfectionism causes us to tune in regularly to the “you are a failure” channel. Just as we celebrate a toddler’s one step, we are wise to celebrate the little improvements in our life. For more on this, read my blog 5 Keys to Defeating the Crippling Power of Perfectionism.
One of the greatest revelations we can get is that we have the power to think joyfully, peacefully, and hopefully. Obviously, if we are running from God’s will in our life, we won’t be able to really hear these channels, but I believe you are not a person running from God, but you want to do it right. And you will figure out, and practice, how to change to God’s channels of hope. For more on this listen to this message as a podcast here.
Another great resource for changing our self-talk, speaking to ourselves with grace and kindness, and the power of declarations is my book You’re Crazy if you Don’t Talk to Yourself.
ABOUT STEVE BACKLUND
Steve Backlund was a senior pastor for seventeen years before joining the team at Bethel Church in Redding, CA in 2008. Steve is a leader developer, joy activist, a revivalist teacher, and as Senior Associate Director, is a key part of the Global Legacy (a ministry of Bethel Church) leadership team. He travels extensively throughout the world encouraging churches and leaders and has authored a number of books.