Watch out for “Stinking Thinking”

You have probably heard it said that what you do flows from how you’re feeling and how you’re feeling flows from how you’re thinking. It all starts with what’s “buzzing in your beanie,” as it were.  That’s why we are encouraged to be renewed in the spirit of our minds (Romans 12:2).

If you want to experience real change and transformation as a leader, start with the way you think about:

  1. Yourself
  2. God
  3. The people you lead
  4. The circumstances you find yourself in

The late Zig Ziglar referred to this negative thinking as “stinkin’ thinkin’.”(Ziglar’s original quote: “We all need a daily check up from the neck up to avoid stinkin’ thinkin’ which ultimately leads to hardening of the attitudes.”)

Here are five “stinkin’ thinkin’s” that create problems for leaders:

1. If It’s Going To Be, It’s Up To Me!

As a Christian leader, the biblically-based way to think is if it’s going to be it’s up to God and our faith-filled responses to what he is doing. Things being all “up to me” is independent, prideful and self-centered thinking as a leader. I love Matthew 19:26 (The Message) on this: “Jesus looked hard at them and said, ‘no chance at all if you think you can pull it off yourself. Every chance in the world if you trust God to do it.’

The idea that if I don’t do it nobody else will is downplaying both the power of God and the value of the team I have/am a part of. I can take too much responsibility and trust neither God nor my team but only myself; or I can take too little responsibility and do nothing. Both are mistakes,

2. It’s Impossible!

How many times have I heard this in a brainstorming meeting about how to approach a problem or cash in on a new and novel idea? Talk about raining on the proverbial parade! As I read my Bible, most of the things that catch our attention seem impossible: creating everything from nothing…having children at 100 years of age… parting seas…walking on water…feeding 5000 people with food enough for a handful…raising the dead. But the impossible is God’s specialty. The idea we’re thinking about or the course we’re considering may be hard, but it’s never impossible. It may be challenging, but it’s never impossible.

It may be the most mind-boggling and difficult thing we have ever attempted, but it’s never impossible. It might be improbable and risk-filled, but it’s never impossible.

3. We’ve Never Tried This Before!

Some leaders see a new idea as a problem rather than as an opportunity. Fear of change, fear of failure, fear of losing my position or salary keep me from trying something new or different. So what if we’ve never done this before. What does that have to do with the leading of God, the power of God or the grace of God? Every new product on the market, every successful inventor, or every business startup had to get by the we’ve-never-done-this-before mental road block.

We need to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. We need to color outside the lines and “Live Mas” (“live more,” per the Taco Bell ad ) outside the box! When an idea comes up, put your hand over your mouth when you start to say “But, we’ve never done this before.” All the more reason to start now!

4. If It’s Not Our Idea, We Won’t Do It!

It’s the not-invented-here syndrome. It’s organizational snobbery at its best. It’s reinventing the wheel due to corporate/organizational/church pride. Real leadership is open to all ideas regardless of where they originate. I have seen large churches re-create something already out there in the very form they are thinking about just so they can put their stamp on it and call it theirs. In many cases, it’s a bad use of money and time for the pride of ownership. (God owns all the ideas anyway!)

5. People Can’t Be Trusted. I Trust Only Myself!

When it comes right down to it, some leaders trust only themselves. They distrust most everyone else and, at times, tell them so. They think they are the best, smartest, fastest and most gifted person there. These leaders also believe that people are naturally lazy, won’t work hard and deserve  to be viewed with a fair amount of suspicion. At times, they are reluctant to give others credit, build others up and communicate trust and respect for others and their work/contributions. They even go so far as to take credit for the ideas and work of others. They rule with the stick instead of the carrot! Their lack of confidence and trust in those they have had a hand in hiring poisons the culture and morale. It is usually insecurity on the part of the leader that leads him to think more highly of himself and less highly of others (Romans 12:3).

Sam Storms lead pastor for preaching and vision at Bridgeway Church in Oklahoma City says this about insecure leaders:

Insecurity makes it difficult to acknowledge and appreciate the accomplishments of others on staff (or in the congregation). In other words, the personally insecure pastor is often incapable of offering genuine encouragement to others. Their success becomes a threat to him, his authority, and his status in the eyes of the people. Thus if you’re insecure you likely won’t pray for others to flourish.”

+ Any other “Stinkin’ Thinkin’s” you have to share?