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The Mindset of Christ

One of the more practical and empowering secular books I have read is Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Stanford University psychology professor Carol Dweck. In it the author contrasts fixed and growth mindsets. Those with fixed mindsets allow their talent and ability to define them. They believe these traits are unchangeable, so self-esteem is based on how one compares with others. Challenges are threatening to the fixed mindset, for any failure is self-defining. For people with growth mindsets, on the other hand, the win is not so much on the comparison with others, but on learning and development. They embrace challenges, struggles, criticism and setbacks, for each is an opportunity for growth. Thankfully, the author asserts that mindsets are belief systems, and those with fixed mindsets can change them. I consider Mindset to be a good read.

In his letter to the church in Philippi, Paul taught on a unique mindset, the servant mindset: “In humility value others above yourselves . . . ”1 Sounds honorable, but isn’t this essentially a fixed mindset, the kind that limits our potential by how we compare to others? Isn’t this a win-lose proposition in which we lose? Are we less valued than those we are called to serve? Not at all. Rather our newfound esteem for others arises from our own encouragement from being in Christ, our own comfort from knowing we are loved, and our own inclusion in the Spirit.2 It is in the marvel that we are loved and the security that we are priceless that we begin to realize also the inestimable value of others. So Paul says “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.”3 This mindset—His mindset—is not the kind that is fixed on ourselves and threatened by humility; it is the mindset that grows in grace and bears fruit.

We are individually and collectively loved by the Creator of all things, and though He is God, He constantly serves us; sometimes we are aware of it, and most times we are not. Humility is no threat to Him—it is His character, it is the mindset of Christ. We could not be more greatly loved or more humbly served than we are. Then in this confidence may we turn our inward gaze outward toward people and serve them as they are—priceless.

Father, valuing others above ourselves is not natural to us; we chafe at the thought. But this is what You do, for You serve us every day. Inspire us to value others above ourselves and to serve them as Your priceless creation. In Christ we pray. Amen.

1 Philippians 2:3
2 Philippians 2:1
3 Philippians 2:3-5

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