Confession and Positive Reinforcement

Pull open a running book telling you how to cut time and add miles or grab the latest self help book on pastoral theology and no one is really surprised to find rhetoric teaching the value of positive thinking.

Of course, if you dig deeper they really are selling us on positive reinforcement. Simply put its a positive in and negative out sort of approach which truly does not do the whole justice. So, you focus and change the way you process. When you find yourself challenged or after not meeting objectives you learn and you celebrate every little victory.

This skips a few steps. First, you have to have a goal.

There is a “but” in all this. Christianity is not a “simple” positive thinking religion. At least not the Christianity that I know. I should make an extra emphasis on the “simple” because there is a lot of positive thinking in Christianity. But we don’t walk around patting ourselves on our back for our misdeeds and wrong headed thoughts. Why? Because these thoughts, these acts they hurt us, hurt the people around us, and they need to change things.

So, I want to take two things and merge them together. Because I want the positive thinking to be an offering we can take in Christianity, and maybe that means baptizing it or giving it an easy pass. Easy baptism is just as un palatable to me.

When people say positive thinking they usually mean about their identity and their selves, but I think we could switch this. The question is: where do we ground our identity? If we switch over our identity from what we make ourselves to what God can make or is making us. This would have a sense of joy that could help us transform ourselves and work to put ourselves under his will.

This is not an easy pass, this is utterly admitting that we are broken and choosing to live into a reality that is different. This is a goal that Christians can get behind, but also allows us to rejoice and to embrace some of the other aspects of positive thinking. It reworks all our other goals under this one goal and makes us into something new.

Now, I have not fully worked out the details. i’ve started thinking it through both scripturally and psychologically while grounding it in Christian practices. Hopefully, this will just be a foretaste of what’s to come.


About Sean Smith

Husband, Father, Pastor, Swimmer, Writer, Reader, and attempted Adventurer!
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