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Growth or Fixed Mindset: Should I Forgive?

31 Jul

I’ve been studying a lot about fixed mindset and growth mindset for the educational coaching that I do.  Fixed mindset says that you are born with a certain intelligence and certain abilities. Growth mindset says that your intelligence and abilities can be grown with effort. The growth mindset is based on scientific findings of how much the brain can grow–in any area–with effort.

As a teacher, I believe in growth mindset. I can’t tell you how many times as an art teacher I’ve been frustrated by people saying, “I can’t draw.” “Just give me six weeks,” I beg, “You may not be Da Vinci, but I can teach you to draw.”

As a person, I have limited myself in other areas. (I’m not athletic. I’m not a math person, etc.)  If you want to learn more about these mindsets, here’s a 2-minute video by John Spencer. If you want to dig a little deeper, here’s an 8-minute video by Train Ugly. Here is a quick quiz to check your mindset.

According to Carol Dweck’s book, mindset: The New Psychology of Success, we even use mindsets in our relationships:

In a relationship, the Fixed Mindset wants revenge, wants their spouse/friend to pay penance, expects their spouse/friend to be able to meet their needs by “reading” their minds, their ideal relationship is one of (total) compatibility, and they believe that problems in the relationship indicate character flaws. One can have a fixed mindset in three areas: “You can believe your qualities are fixed, your partner’s qualities are fixed, and/or the relationship’s qualities are fixed.”

In a relationship, the Growth Mindset wants to understand, forgive, and move on.

My point here is not learning how to draw or do math but the fact that I believe God wants us to have a growth mindset.

And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you]. Romans 12:2Amplified Bible (AMP)

Spiritual maturity is all about learning not only to forgive but to live in a state of forgiveness where we forgive, as Jesus did on the cross, without being asked for forgiveness. I believe this is a life-long process of learning that we can aspire to if we have a growth mindset. I’m am not saying it’s easy; just important.

12 So, as God’s own chosen people, who are holy [set apart, sanctified for His purpose] and well-beloved [by God Himself], put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience [which has the power to endure whatever injustice or unpleasantness comes, with good temper]; 13 bearing graciously with one another, and willingly forgiving each other if one has a cause for complaint against another; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so should you forgive. 14 Beyond all these things put on and wrap yourselves in [unselfish] love, which is the perfect bond of unity [for everything is bound together in agreement when each one seeks the best for others]. Colossians 3: 12-14 (AMP)


The Tyranny of Unforgiveness

3 Jun

But if you do not forgive others [nurturing your hurt and anger with the result that it interferes with your relationship with God], then your Father will not forgive your trespasses. Matthew 6:15 Amplified

I don’t really want to get into the last part of this verse, but lets take a long look at the “If” portion. If I understand the tense it is written in (Second Aorist, Active, Subjunctive) it means that we are to forgive when and if we have occasion to forgive–in other words when there is an offense against us.

Forgiveness means to cut off, to send away, to set free, to cancel a debt. Forgiveness does not mean that you are disregarding sin and doing nothing about it, but you are liberating a person from them, their guilt, and their power (Zodhiates). Normally we think about forgiveness like this in terms of God forgiving us. But it seems we have two choices here: 1) We can nurture our hurt and anger with the result that it interferes with our relationship with God, or 2) We can forgive and let it go.

Nurturing implies paying attention to something, caring for it, and feeding it. This means that you are often pulling your list(s) of offenses off the shelf and meditating on them instead of meditating on God’s will or God’s Word. I would much rather cut the gum-like offense off of me and free myself from its tyranny over me and my spiritual and emotional well-being. We are never more like God than when we forgive.

I’m not saying it’s easy.  But it is God’s way. When I was a new Christian I soon learned about forgiveness, but did not understand HOW to forgive. I read books and looked for ways to forgive a certain individual in my life. I remember reading about someone who wrote down all the offenses that someone had made against her and then burned them.  I thought, “If it worked for her, it can work for me.” I grabbed a notebook and began writing page after page of offenses.  (Doesn’t this sound more like nurturing than cutting off?) After I burned it, I kept thinking of other offenses to add to the list. I would have had to maintain a perpetual fire to deal with it. *chuckle* It interfered with my relationship with a forgiving God.

I honestly believed in forgive and forget, but I couldn’t forget, and that’s because I didn’t understand my enemy.

I learned that forgiveness is a decision of our will. We simply make a decision to forgive.  Now the enemy–or all three enemies, the flesh, the world, and the devil–will try to convince us to nurture the offense and that we are right to do so. The battle that follows the decision to forgive is in our minds. We need to take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (2 Cor. 10:4-6)

If nothing else helps us to forgive, this will: Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave the way open for God’s wrath [and His judicial righteousness]; for it is written [in Scripture], “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Romans 12:19

Martin Luther (not King) Day

15 Jan

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In a sermon last Sunday, I heard this quote from a Martin Luther letter to his dear friend which had me guffawing in church.  Read it and tell me if you think he would make it today when we are so careful of one another’s feelings?

I beg you, who are so pugnacious in everything else, fight against yourself, your own worst enemy, for you furnish Satan with too many weapons against yourself. . . . I pray for you very earnestly, and I am deeply pained that you keep sucking up cares like a leech and thus rendering my prayers vain. . . . If we are not strengthened by his promises, where in all the world are the people to whom these promises apply?  But more of this another time.  After all, my writing this is like pouring water into the sea.


From Luther:  Letters of Spiritual Counsel (p. 147)

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