What Were You Thinking?

Yesterday, while we were attempting to wash the twins up after dinner, I found our three-year old, Matthew, dumping out the trash. This was eventful and enjoyable for our dog, Stella, but not for Daddy.

What are you thinking?!

I honestly can’t remember if I yelled it aloud or not. As my anger subsided, I knew that this was an opportunity to teach my son. As I composed my emotions, I told him why we don’t dump out the trash and patiently walked through his questions. Then, we cleaned up the mess together.

The Thinker by Rodin

The Thinker by Rodin

What Are You Thinking

What are you thinking?

This is an all-too-common reply when someone does something that offends us. It could be the driver that cuts you off or the employee that uses poor judgement. In each of these cases, you might not say it out loud, but you want to scream, “What were you thinking?”

I’ll admit, I feel the urge to say this to my boys at least five hundred times a day.

It’s interesting that we have the power to control how we act, but most of us don’t give attention to control how we think.

Controlling our actions is a learned skill as we mature because we understand the concept of consequence. For example, we see children attempt thoughtless acts because they do not yet understand the repercussions.

This is precisely why kids stick things in light sockets, play with fire, and take things that don’t belong to them. As adults, we begin to learn (hopefully) the power of consequence and prohibit ourselves from doing certain things because of the consequences it might yield.

However, have you ever asked yourself, are there consequences for how I think?

Controlling Thoughts

This is an often overlooked perspective that holds the key to incredible power.

Is there something in your life that you long to change? Some obstacle you would hope to overcome?

Whether it is a bad habit, a struggling business, or a strained relationship, the key to change rests within your mind.

This is our collective battlefield.

Our road to victory begins when we understand this: if we want to control our actions, we must first start by controlling our thoughts.

I have learned that the ability to control your thoughts is the difference maker between great marriages and average ones, it is the difference between successful people and people who’d hope to be successful. It is the difference between those who thrive and those who simply survive.

And, it’s a principle that we’re taught in scripture:

“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

Your thoughts are the future that you create.

Controlling Our Thoughts

Your thoughts are always leading us somewhere. If we want to take part in where that somewhere is, we must learn how to think.

Here are three practical steps to begin:

1.  What is it that I am thinking?

Sometimes it is as simple as giving words to our thoughts, clearly defining what is in our mind. Often, we can dismiss a thought as soon as we think it based on its absurdity or falsehood. Before we begin chasing these proverbial rabbit trails, we must expose them for what they are.

Clearly define your thoughts.

2.  What is the source of that thought?

It’s important to understand the foundation of a thought. Where did that thought come from? Is it based on truth? Is it based on a lie? Is it positive? Is it negative? The point is to limit thoughts that are not based in truth and limit thoughts that are simply an initial reaction. This is what Paul meant when he said, “make the thoughts obedient to Christ.” We must substantiate our thoughts, filtering through the fear and doubt that often clouds the mind.

Determine the motive behind the thought

3.  Where is this thought leading me? 

The philosopher Seneca said, “No favorable wind blows for the ship without a port.” In short, our thoughts need to be consistent with our goals. Are our thoughts leading us towards our goals? Are they leading us away from them? We must make sure that we understand the direction in which our thoughts push us. If they lead us in a direction we don’t want to go, we must stop thinking them!

Determine the direction of the thought

If you filter your thoughts through these three questions, you’ll find that you gain clarity and certainty about the actions you are taking.

In short, you either think richly or you think poorly, scarcity or abundance, fear or confidence, greed or generosity.

Think richly, today.

QUESTION: Do you control your thoughts, or do your thoughts control you?



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13 Responses to What Were You Thinking?

  1. Amanda Arthur Krill July 15, 2014 at 6:28 am #

    Yes, yes, yes. Fighting this today.

    • Matt Ham July 15, 2014 at 6:55 am #

      And it’s a great battle to fight!

  2. David Mike July 15, 2014 at 7:08 am #

    Love the Rodin pic! I tend to be over analytical and it can be debilitating. However I can tell when I’m not paying attention to what I’m thinking because I slip into the negative.

    • Matt Ham July 15, 2014 at 10:31 am #

      That’s a great marker Mike. Huge to understand that truth.

  3. Paul Sohn July 15, 2014 at 9:26 am #

    Great post Matt! Taking our thoughts captive is an essential skill for any Christ-centered leader. What we say or think is a direct reflection of our heart.

    • Matt Ham July 15, 2014 at 10:31 am #

      Thank Paul and you’re absolutely right. The key is to learn and move toward perfection.

  4. Steven Tessler July 15, 2014 at 3:23 pm #

    When I delivered mail all I would do was think, think, think and would be late getting back on those days.
    I was told by someone focus on getting the mail out and not think about everything else. Guess what? With that focus I got back on time!

    Thanks for this post!! Great work!

    I still work for the Post Office and still think and have more time now since I don’t deliver mail door to door. But now I have a different perspective,

    • Matt Ham July 15, 2014 at 7:45 pm #

      Thanks Steven! I appreciate you stopping by and I’m sure those folks appreciate getting their mail on time! Thanks for your service!

  5. Zechariah Newman July 15, 2014 at 4:31 pm #

    Great post Matt. The battle truly does rage in the mind. Keep up the great work Matt.

    • Matt Ham July 15, 2014 at 7:46 pm #

      Keep fighting, friend!

  6. Claire McLean July 15, 2014 at 7:07 pm #

    fantastic post matt! the war so is in our head and we’ve got to make sure we’re listening to the right voices 🙂 loved the 3 step guide to controlling our thoughts. steven furtick in crash the chatterbox says that we’ve got to be quality control managers of our thoughts – a thought can come down the production line but we have the responsibility to check it for control. if it doesnt meet the designers standard then we dismiss it. love your blog 🙂 keep dreaming and building! blessings, claire

    • Matt Ham July 15, 2014 at 7:47 pm #

      Grabbing that thought before it has the potential to derail production is key. Thanks for the kind words Claire!


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