This is the final post in this series.
We have explored the deadly sin of pastors, learned helplessness (see post), where the brain telling you that one’s circumstances are so great that nothing can be done to reverse the situation. Once learned helplessness goes unchecked, it morphs into a progressive, negative thinking style. The progression moves from taking negative situations personally (see post), to where negative thinking becomes pervasive (see post), and eventually creates a mindset of permanent negativity.
I have never reached this stage of negativity in my ministry or my life. Nevertheless, I witness this negative and permanent thinking style almost every day.
I see it with spouses who think they are trapped in their current situation. They have the permanent belief that their spouse is never going to change and their marriage is going to be mediocre at best.
I witness this style of permanent thinking with parents of wayward children. These parents are convinced that nothing will change with their child.
I observe this permanent negative thinking with members of my church when it comes to their jobs or careers. They are convinced that there is nothing else for them to do in life other than to endure a miserable job and live for weekends.
I witness pastors whose entire ministry is defined by explaining away or making excuses for why their church cannot participate or give to a cause. They have adopted a permanent mindset of negativity and don’t even realize it. They have allowed negativity to define their ministry.
I have observed that people with this mentality have a very negative mindset about everything, including spiritual maturity and Jesus. In other words, these folk never buy into the teaching of Christ about the “abundant life” or the “victorious life.”
How do you speak truth into a person’s life that possesses this permanent mindset of negativity?
- PRAY. I begin praying for this person, for myself, and for the Lord to open the door of opportunity.
- PREPARE. I prepare my thoughts by writing them out. I usually do not take my notes with me to the conversation but I have found that if I will write out my thoughts and observations it help me when I meet with the person.
- PLAN. I plan for the multiple responses of the person, which I am seeking to speak truth too. I plan for as many of their reactions as I can brainstorm.
- TRUST. I trust God for the results. I can only do my part. I cannot do their part. I have to trust God for the outcome.
What has been your strategy for helping people with this thinking style? What have your learned in the process of helping people in this negative thinking style?