God has more in store for us than we could ask for or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). Yet sometimes we get stuck in a bit of a rut where we're not moving forward and we find ourselves getting frustrated at people who challenge us out of our comfort zone. We might desperately want to move on, but we just can't seem to pull it off. There's things in the way that we can't fully perceive. Here's 3 mindset errors that we can slip into that will most certainly keep us from moving ahead.
1. We Are Stuck Thinking About Past Failures
Failure can leave strong emotional marks on us. Whenever we get close to repeating a past failure, we have a strong recoil reflex and don't want anything to do with the situation.
I can remember when I failed to consult with my team before making a risky decision. It cost me dearly in terms of relationships. I rightly learnt the lesson that I needed to consult with others more, especially in situations where I was about to say 'no' to someone getting what they wanted. But I found a few years later, that I was taking this consulting process to an extreme. Essentially I was acting in fear of repeating my mistake, and it was costing me, because I was not getting the job done and was burning out my team by excessive consultation.
This kind of fear of failure can be a fear of repeating our own personal mistake, but can also be a fear of repeating mistakes made by your family members, those in your business, your industry or even your nation as a whole.
2. We Are Stuck Thinking About Past Successes
As much as we don't want to be defined by past failures, it is equally problematic to be defined by past successes. Again this could be where we have experienced personal success in the past and we spend our time and energy making sure everyone knows about that success rather than using the fruits of that success to be a blessing to others as we move forward. Alternatively, it's a well known fact organisationally, that one of the greatest threats to organisational health is resting on past good performance - what we might call hubris.
3. The Desire For Safety
Safety and security is a core human need. But sometimes this good desire can lead us to stay in a circumstance that was safe in the past, but is no longer so. We can feel that we need to move on - from depending on an unhealthy relationship, or from a job that was a great fit in the past, or from a good habit that is now restricting us from taking up a better habit - yet, our desire for safety and security hinder us from moving onto the thing that ironically, would actually be the safest thing to do anyway.
The Solution: Know That Our Successes Are Milestone's Not Destinations
Having explained his life goal, in Philippians 3:12, Paul helps us to see how we can have a right attitude towards the successes and safe havens we make it to in life.
'Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.'
Paul refuses to settle for lower goals from life. He wants to step into everything that Christ Jesus has for him. That means Paul refuses to accept that he's reached his final destination. Instead he commits to pressing on further, beyond the temporary milestones to the final destination.
It's worth noting here that the milestones for Paul were significant. Paul saw churches planted, miracles performed, people's lives radically transformed. More importantly, as much as he'd had to let go of things that he found safety in (his Jewish heritage and religious achievements), Paul had found in their place, further down the road, great milestones of wonder, in his relationship with God through Jesus Christ. But he knew there was more, so on he travelled.
Forgetting What's Behind, Straining Towards What's Ahead
Living with this mindset for Paul, meant an intentional process of forgetting past failures and successes. He knew his failures were forgiven and that his successes were but one gift of the gracious God he had now come to know.
'Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead' (Philippians 3:13)
This did not mean that Paul didn't grieve things that hurt him or repent of sin or rejoice in the successes, but he didn't let those things define him. He was able to live in the moment, process and express what was appropriate to the moment, but then be free to move to the next moment, in his journey with Christ Jesus.
Are there things that you need to forget from the past? Maybe your own failures, maybe the failures of others within your family or organisation? Maybe successes that you're clinging onto as a source of confidence and security, afraid of what would happen if you let them go?
Trusting The One Who Has Called Us Heavenward
Really the only way that we can move forward is by growing in our trust relationship, with the one who calls us from darkness to light. Jesus Christ is the one who has died to bring us forgiveness and having risen pours out his Spirit upon us to give the possibility of success. He is the one who calls us follow him, wherever he leads, which will involve passing beyond yesterday's milestone, trusting him for the final destination that only he can fully see.
'I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.' (Philippians 3:14)
For those who have come into relationship with God through Jesus, they have had the first taste of the true reality of what Paul here describes as the prize. Having tasted a little, we are encouraged to keep listening as Jesus calls us forward. ____________________________
About the Author
Jai Wright is a Christian Minister, who founded and leads MAKE Church in Mackay, Qld. He recently published the book, Life Plugged In: Connecting with the Source of Peace, Power and Purpose.
You might like to think a little bit more about your spiritual health, by taking the Spiritual Health Check Score Card here.