If you’re like me, then you’ve learned attempting to control external circumstances is futile. Even if you kid yourself into believing you’re in control, eventually you’ll find out you’re not. That “eventually” could be a very long time, even years. And that “eventually” could be a big wake-up call. You can figuratively (and perhaps literally) wake up one morning and realize you’re lost in a dark wilderness. You feel like a person who survived their own shipwreck.
Now, what do you do? Would you mind if I prescribed the first step?
Learn to manage your mind. To manage something, you must be in control of it. To control it, you must be able to measure it. If can learn to measure, control, and manage your mind, then you’ve mastered the art of self-control because your thoughts control your life.
Measure. Carve out 15 minutes of quiet time in the morning and evening of every day. That’s only 30 minutes out of 1,440 daily minutes, or just 2% of your day. Spend that time in silence and fit it into your daily rhythms. Use The Family Wins devotional as a guide to help build the habit. Incorporate these specific questions into each time slot.
Control. Your mind is the battleground on which the war for your emotions, purpose, effectiveness, and fullness of life is won or lost. To ignore the war being waged around you is to lose the war. One of the reasons you get mentally fatigued is because there’s a battle in your brain 24 hours a day. And the enemy (the world’s value system) loves when you become complacent against its attacks. Modern society rarely encourages self-control, but that’s the only control we really have.
So how do you get control of your mind? By setting your mind on the wonderful character of the living God and your identity in Him and using just 2% of your day, every day. When you control the way you direct your thoughts, you will experience less stress, peace, and tranquility. The negative thoughts and insecurities you face daily will flee and in their place will rest the glorious light of God’s truth.
Manage. Now that you are measuring, with intentionality, your quiet time with God, and are controlling the way you direct your thoughts, you’re able to manage your mind. An unmanaged mind leads to tension, but a managed mind leads to serenity. An unmanaged mind leads to conflict, but a managed mind leads to confidence. An unmanaged mind produces much stress and anxiety, but a managed mind leads to strength and security.
The sin of self-reliance breeds pride and more sin. The Fruit of the Spirit of self-control breeds humility and reliance on God. Quiet time keeps us close to God and aware of Him. A scarcity of quiet nudges Him to the margins of our hearts, making room for the world to plant lies within us.
A lack of quiet time with God makes us vulnerable to irrational fear. You will slowly be controlled and oppressed by irrational fears (One word … COVID-19 … need I say more?). Fears swell and flourish as long as God stays on the periphery. Quiet time with Him scatters those fears by enlarging and inflaming our thoughts about His promises and purpose for our life.
Self-control can be summed up like this. Embrace quiet time and trust God. In quietness and trust will be our blessing. In busyness and pride will be our downfall.