People will live bad lives to whatever extent they have adopted bad ideas. Dr. Phil has popularized the saying, “How’s that working for you?” In other words, when you do such and such thing, which comes from such and such belief, notion, or idea, what is the usual result and is it making your life better?
People will live bad lives to whatever extent they have adopted bad ideas.
This is no new discovery. The Bible is full of passages and verses that talk about the importance of belief, the mind, and thinking in certain ways. Thirty years ago Aaron Beck founded a school of psychology called Cognitive Psychology. Cognitive Psychology begins with the assumption that most dysfunction in human life stems from faulty ideas (beliefs). Beck correctly states that if you can change a person’s ideas, you can change his behavior, because people will live bad lives to whatever extent they have adopted bad ideas.
The longer I am pastor at Wildwind and the longer I work with people in the counseling office, the truer I realize this is. The fundamental problem with people is that they often build their lives on bad ideas. And bad ideas are no respecter of persons. They tend to produce bad lives in those who build their lives on them, whether people identify themselves as religious or non-religious. Either way, when we build our lives on bad ideas, they will eventually bring the consequences and difficulties bad ideas always bring. Show me a person struggling with problems in life and I can probably show you a person who has embraced (usually without consciously thinking about and understanding it) bad ideas.
Bad idea: I deserve to have fun toys in life.
Corresponding behavior: Debt spending to acquire fun things.
Consequence: Chronic financial instability and its corresponding effects, such as depression, anxiety, and aimlessness.
Bad idea: My spouse should meet all my needs.
Corresponding behavior: Selfish behaviors of all sorts.
Consequences: A spouse who feels drained and unappreciated and is unable to meet any needs at all.
Bad idea: I should always feel excited about my life.
Corresponding behavior: Drug-taking, dangerous sexual relationships, criminal involvement, pushing limits of all kinds to get a thrill [choose one or more]
Consequences: Physical issues, relationship problems, legal problems, etc.
My church, Wildwind Community Church, is based in part on our belief that people are messing up their lives because they have accepted bad ideas and are therefore behaving in unproductive ways, and then experiencing the consequences of these behaviors. The problem, of course, is that the trend in society now is a turn away from declaring ideas bad or good. People, we say, have the “right” to whatever ideas they have. Which of course is true, but that does not mean all ideas are equally good.
Ideas become behaviors and behaviors have consequences, for good or ill, depending on the quality of the idea. As I wrote in yesterday’s post, the difficulty is that many people have rejected the ancient sources of wisdom regarding what ideas are bad and what ideas are good, and so we are adrift, with each person doing what is right in his/her own eyes, not really having understanding about which ideas are ultimately good and which are ultimately not good.