Mental Conditioning

Mental Conditioning

Mental Conditioning

By Steve Backlund

I really like basketball. I played it for many years, and I have coached numerous teams. I enjoy watching games on television. 

The other day I saw an interview of a college basketball player. He spoke about physical conditioning, but then he mentioned the importance of mental conditioning. He was basically saying that being in great shape physically must be complemented by being in great shape mentally. If you do not have both, you will not be successful. 

Mental conditioning is not just for athletes, but it is a key for successful living. The Bible tells us to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). It also says, “To be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace” (Romans 8:6). A carnal mind is one that is undisciplined, believing lies, and is self-centered.

I have been fascinated with the concept of belief workouts for years. One of my dreams is that it will become more popular than physical fitness workouts. After all, no one wants to have flabby beliefs. 

Our Igniting Hope team has been experimenting with belief workouts for years. It is now an important part of our Transformational Mind Renewal Course where we ask participants to work out their beliefs for at least three minutes every morning and evening. It is a powerful tool for mental conditioning. 

Would you consider doing some experimentation with belief workouts? I have listed seven different areas you can exercise your beliefs below. I suggest focusing on one of the following exercises each day for a month: 

  1. God’s General Promises – “We participate in the divine nature through (God’s Promises)” (2 Peter 1:4). As we rehearse, declare, and personalize specific Biblical promises, we lay a powerful foundation for mental conditioning. 
  2. Specific Promises (Prophecies or Rhema Word) – “Take up the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17). Rhema is the Greek word translated “word” in this verse. It is a specific part of God’s overall promises that has been made real to us, and which we fight self-limiting beliefs with. “This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare” (1 Timothy 1:18).
  3. Our Biblical Identity – “By one offering, He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified” (Hebrews 10:14). We are not who our past experience says we are, but we are who God says we are. The ten spies in Numbers 13 misidentified themselves as grasshoppers and it created lack and restriction for their lives. In this part of the workout, we speak who God says we are.
  4. Decisions We Have Made or Are Making – “Let each be fully convinced in his own mind.” (Romans 14:5). As we direct our thoughts to our decision-making, we note any areas where we are not attaching great faith to our choices or commitments. This can be major areas of life like our job or geographical location, or it can be smaller areas like meetings we will attend that day. It is not possible to have enthusiasm or a strong load-bearing capacity if we are in doubt we are doing the right things.
  5. Glistening Hope for the People in Our Lives – “Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh” (2 Corinthians 5:16). “(Love) believes all things, hopes all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7)  This part of the workout focuses on our hope levels for the people in our lives. As we recognize our lack of great hope for a person is usually a bigger problem than whatever that person is doing, we use this portion of the workout to upgrade our beliefs about people. 
  6. The Nature of God – “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 3:18). As we worship and “behold” a certain aspect or name of God (i.e. Comforter, Prince of Peace, Healer, etc.), we will be increasingly transformed into the image we are beholding. This part of our workout causes us to encounter God in life-changing ways. 
  7. Our Conclusions About Circumstances – “After that (Jesus) said to them, ‘Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.’” (John 11:11). Our conclusions about situations are almost always more important than the situation itself. Consider the story in Numbers 13 of the Ten Spies and Joshua & Caleb. They both saw the same circumstance but put a different conclusion on it. In this part of the workout, we overcome victim-mindsets and fear about the circumstances in our nation or lives. 

One other tip for these workouts is to take inventory of where you have emotional resistance in your life. As with our bodies where we increase muscle by pushing against resistance, we increase our soul muscles (mind, will, and emotions) by pushing against the resistance we are feeling to have joy, hope, peace, and love. As we note emotional resistance like fear, worry, unworthiness, or insecurity, we can use the tools above to “push against” any lies creating our lack of inner victory. 

Mental conditioning, what a great concept. It will increase our load bearing capacity, resilience, and endurance

For more on topics like this, listen to my podcast by clicking the link below.


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.

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