Negative Thinking Style

July 17, 2013



Many pastors in American suffer from the deadly sin of learned helplessness (see previous post). If learned helplessness is not held in check, it will continue to grow until it becomes negatively pronounced in one’s thinking style.

According to the research of Martin Seligman, one’s thinking style can morph into three negative categories:


The three P’s are different ways in which people experience how things happen to them. Each way of thinking is a more progressive and destructive in nature.

Let’s take a look at the first one…taking situations personally.  For example, a family just left the church I pastor. This family was very close to me. As I have wrestled with a series of events over the last two months, learned helplessness has seeped into my mindset.  This negative mindset started consuming my thinking style. I have to admit that I took this family’s departure personally. I have criticized myself for not remaining optimistic. I have tried to tell myself that this family didn’t leave because of me, but the other side of me thinks, “I must be a horrible pastor. I don’t blame them for leaving the church.”

What have I done to battle learned helplessness and from taking this family’s departure personally? I have focused upon my identity in Christ. My identity is not based on who is or who’s not a member of our church. My identity is in Jesus Christ. How I have rooted my mind and heart in Jesus Christ? I take the following statements and read them to myself along with the scripture references each morning and each evening for a month then anytime Satan attacks me I will pull these statements out and read them.

 Since I Am in Christ

 Since I am in Christ, by the grace of God…

  • I have been justified – completely forgiven and made righteous (Rom 5:1).
  • I died with Christ and died to the power of sin’s rule over my life (Rom. 6:1-6).
  • I am free forever from condemnation (Rom 8:1).
  • I have been placed into Christ by God’s doing (1 Cor. 1:30).
  • I have received the Spirit of God into my life that I might know the things freely given to me by God (1 Cor. 2:12).
  • I have been given the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16).
  • I have been bought with a price; I am not my own; I belong to God (1 Cor. 6:19, 20).
  • I have been established, anointed and sealed by God in Christ, and I have been given the Holy Spirit as a pledge guaranteeing our inheritance to come (2 Cor. 1:21; Eph. 1:13, 14).
  • Since I have died, I no longer live for myself, but for Christ (2 Cor. 5:14, 15).
  • I have been made righteous (2 Cor. 5:21).
  • I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. The life I am now living is Christ’s life (Gal. 2:20).
  • I have been blessed with every spiritual blessing (Eph. 1:3).
  • I was chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and am without blame before Him (Eph. 1:4).
  • I was predestined – determined by God – to be adopted as God’s son (Eph. 1:5).
  • I have been redeemed and forgiven, and I am a recipient of His lavish grace (Eph. 1:17).
  • I have been made alive together with Christ (Eph. 2:5).
  • I have been raised up and seated with Christ in heaven (Eph. 2:6).
  • I have direct access to God through the Spirit (Eph. 2:18).
  • I may approach God with boldness, freedom and confidence (Eph. 3:12).
  • I have been rescued from the domain of Satan’s rule and transferred to the kingdom of Christ (Col. 1:13).
  • I have been redeemed and forgiven of all my sins.  The debt against me has been canceled (Col. 1:14). Christ Himself is in me (Col. 1:27).
  • I am firmly rooted in Christ and am now being built in Him (Col. 2:7).
  • I have been made complete in Christ (Col. 2:10).
  • I have been spiritually circumcised (Col. 2:10).
  • I have been buried, raised and made alive with Christ (Col. 2:12, 13).
  • I died with Christ and I have been raised up with Christ. My life is now hidden with Christ in God. Christ is now my life (Col. 3:1-4).
  • I have been given a spirit of power, love and self-discipline (2 Tim. 1:7).
  • I have been saved and set apart according to God’s doing (2 Tim. 1:9; Titus 3:5).
  • Because I am sanctified and am one with the Sanctifier, He is not ashamed to call me brother (Heb. 2:11).
  • I have the right to come boldly before the throne of God to find mercy and grace in time of need (Heb. 4:16).
  • I have been given exceedingly great and precious promises by God by which I am a partaker of God’s divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4). (Adopted from Neil T. Anderson from Victory Over Darkness)

Is learned helplessness part of your mindset today? If so, what are you doing to prevent it from taking root in your mind? Has learned helplessness morphed your thinking into taking your current circumstances personally?


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