Kingdom Psychology 101: Factors That Shape Our Thoughts and Behaviors in Christ

As Christians, we should see everything through our spiritual lenses. Our thoughts and behaviors, the things we see and hear should be interpreted from the mind of Christ – accepting what is fruitful and rejecting everything else.

Our Playbook in 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 tells us, “Test everything said, hold on to what is good. Stay away from every kind of evil.”

Psychology 101 from a Kingdom Perspective

While taking Psychology 101, the Holy Spirit showed me how the class material could be used from a Kingdom perspective. Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior; it helps us understand ourselves and others. Deliverance requires a lot of self-work and ministry requires patience and compassion for people. Psych is a broad subject, but there are three areas that I believe are particularly useful to the Kingdom: lifespan development (specifically early childhood), motivation, and learning.

Lifespan Development

bloom where you're plantedLifespan Development highlights the average age in which we reach certain milestones. I want to highlight early childhood and adolescence because we form our identity during these stages.

We all know that salvation does not prevent temptation and that we have to stay sober-minded to resist evil (1 Peter 5:8). But, why are there some people who struggle with pride and others who struggle with lust? Chances are that some of these struggles go back to childhood, and something you experienced as a child influenced those behaviors.

In church, we call this a generational curse (Exodus 34:7). As we grow in God and learn His ways, we feel guilty for sinful desires and we have to be very careful not to internalize these mindsets that try to attach themselves to our identity. Studying the Word on how to live, think, and act will expose the wrong we were taught, whether directly or indirectly.

For instance, almost every female in my family had children out of wedlock, and even though they never told me to do it, their example informed me that it was “ok”. Many of us get saved and then glean from elders in the body. Thank God for exposing us to what we need once we enter the Kingdom.

Train up a Child

gender identityLifespan development also teaches us how important it is to raise our children up in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6). Children start to distinguish words and sounds at about 6 months old! Knowing this, we can be sure to read the Bible aloud, play appropriate music, and avoid unwholesome talk (which we should be doing anyway). Our example to them is most important because they need to see us walk the walk.

In one study of families who were in temporary shelters after a hurricane, researchers noted that the kids would look at their parents to see if they were distressed; the children of distressed parents were more fearful than those whose parents were calm.

So, we have to remember to exercise our faith in front of our kids and teach them how to depend on God. If you are raising your kids this way from birth, adolescence shouldn’t be a problem. But, for those who already have older kids, adolescence is when they are heavily influenced by peers rather than parents. Watching who your children hang out with and having open discussions about everything is a great way to keep the lines of communication open and lead them in truth.

Motivation

successMotivation is essential to growth! Internal motivation is what drives you to what God has for you. My Intro to Psychology textbook defines motivation as wants or needs that direct our behavior toward a goal. For example, if you’re tired, you’ll be motivated to go home, shower, and get in bed. This seems so simple and obvious, but in reading this I realized that whether you are productive or not – motivation is present!

This means that if you procrastinate, it could be said that you are motivated to fail. Why would anyone be motivated to fail? Most of us, if asked, would readily claim to want a lot in life. But, how many of us, if examined, would be found productive in moving toward our goals?

Motivation is not always positive, although we typically use it that way. Everyone has the same 24 hours in a day. If we are spending most of those hours doing nothing, we have to take a look at what is motivating us. Fear and depression can motivate you the same way faith and joy can!

The study of motivation can also help us in our relationships with others, whether in ministry or parenting. When we see people are stagnant in life, we can discern there is a lack of positive motivation. We can edify them and build them up in the spirit to reinforce productivity. Consistently speaking life to people around us goes a long way. People pay a lot of money for inspiration at conferences and seminars. You never know how you might spark something in someone that could propel them to their destiny.

Learning

study God's wordIn the body of Christ, we’re always learning. Proverbs 18:15 says “Intelligent people are always ready to learn. Their ears are open for knowledge.” It’s important to know your preferred method of learning – seeing, doing, hearing – so that you can figure out how to make the best out of your quiet time with God.

My mother loves to listen to the Bible read aloud from her phone – she’s an auditory learner. I learn by doing, so even though I study, I learn more through life experiences and things in life that confirm God’s Word to me. You will also discover the ways you learn without even trying, such as watching violent movies. There was a study done with children where they allowed them to watch violent cartoons, then observed their behavior on the playground. The kids who watched the violent programming were more aggressive during play time. We have to guard our hearts and minds against negative influences around us and stay in the spirit if we’re going to live holy lives.

So, What’s the Play Call?

  • Surrender your mental health to God (Philippians 2:5). No matter what your human psyche has been exposed to, allow the blood of Jesus to transform you and the mind of Christ to restore and renew your way of thinking.
  • Whatever you do, do as unto the Lord (Colossians 3:23). No matter how menial or seemingly irrelevant the endeavor, try to find God in everything you do. Ask Him what can be learned from every experience and encounter.
  • Remember that everything we do is for God’s glory (1 Corinthians 10:31). Make sure that all your pursuits are God-centered. Whatever you learn, filter it through your Christian perspective and ask God how He would have you to use it to glorify Him.

 

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