Winning the War in Your Mind: Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life,
by Craig Groeschel 2021.
Zondervan, 246 pages. Retail cost $17.99 (US), $23.99 (CAN)
Have you ever sat down and asked yourself, “What lies am I currently believing?” or “How often do I think about what I’m thinking about?”. These and other questions are addressed and answered in Craig Groeschel’s newest book: Winning the War in Your Mind: Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life. Groeschel, Pastor of Life.Church and New York Times best-selling author, isn’t a stranger to the battle that constantly rages in our minds. In this book, he confesses the daunting task of recapturing his thoughts and serves as a guide to help you capture yours. His goal is to make you a “thought warrior” and not to be a victim to the thoughts of fear, doubt, anxiety, and low self-esteem that plague so many. When you especially consider the current COVID-19 pandemic, this book comes at a most appropriate time to help believers reclaim their thoughts and thus bring significant change to their lives.
In the book, you’ll find Groeschel’s usual wit and humor as he combines the Bible, science, and personal testimony to reveal and unmask the tactics used against our minds and the weapons used to reclaim our minds. I appreciate the down-to-earth tone and conservational style of writing that Groeschel employs. You need not be a Bible scholar or a brain surgeon to understand the terminology used to detail his discoveries; he carefully takes his time to define the terms used so that the reading experience isn’t disrupted. The book divides into four parts, three chapters each, that present a crucial principle in the war for the mind. As the consummate teacher, Groeschel utilizes an exercise at the end of each section that offers a practical way of “winning the war in your mind.” It is clear that this isn’t just theory to Groeschel; he encourages applications of the principles to experience real change in your life. In a way, he is assisting you to have a conversation with yourself while he serves as a counselor guiding you on your journey. Two of the book’s prominent themes are: our life reflects how we think, and believing a lie as truth will affect your life as if it was true. These fundamental yet significant themes provide the entire book’s foundation, which provides the reader with ample opportunity to self-reflect and enhance their thinking habits. Though a page-turner, due to Groeschel’s remarkable ability to communicate, this book isn’t meant to entertain nor merely inform; its goal: change. Change is the driving impetus behind the author’s intent, and one of the great things about the book is through the exercises, the reader can measure the change in their own life. This aim for change makes this book a delight to read as you encounter lies that you have believed and the truths you may have ignored.
Here I will detail a summary and a few key takeaways from each principle listed in the book.
Groeschel starts by informing the reader of the Replacement Principle: Remove the Lies, Replace with Truth. He introduces new terminology such as “thoughtology” and “thought warrior.” He reveals the impact of believing a lie by sharing a funny story of locking a friend in a closet. He only pretended to lock the closet, but his friend reacted as if he was trapped (you’d have to read the funny conclusion for yourself). The key takeaway is this: our lives are affected by what we think and believe to our benefit or detriment. The Bible states in Proverbs 23:7, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.“ [NKJV]. We are, or instead, we become the summation of our thoughts, and how dangerous is this if our thoughts are filled with lies and deception? To combat this, we must become intentional in waging a war that’s already happening right under our noses or, instead, right above our heads. Failure to do so will keep us in a prison of lies, lulled by the history of deceit that affects us, our families, our neighbors, and our communities at large. As believers, the decision must be made to fight these lies that too often shape our realities.
The next principle is the Rewire Principle: Rewire Your Brain, Renew Your Mind. In this section, Groeschel shows the reader the danger and power of repetition. Living life from a history of lies can and most often will shape your perception. This “perception” influences our behavior dramatically, which causes us to form false expectations that we look for in our daily experiences. This perception creates biases that we learn to live with but is incredibly damaging if not based on truth. He shows us it is not enough to simply change how we behave because that doesn’t last long. We must get to the root of the issue. Our habit of perceiving things has to change, even the stuff in our life that is influenced by years of negative reinforcement. This change happens when we become aware of God’s truth about us and declare and repeat His truth to our minds setting us free as stated in John 8:32 “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
The following principle is the Reframe Principle: Reframe Your Mind, Restore Your Perspective. Groeschel gives an account of specific expectations for his life, yet things didn’t work out as planned. Typically, like a child, when things don’t go as planned, we tend to complain, throw a fit or have a tantrum because it’s difficult to consider living any differently than what we had in mind. If not careful, this can develop a pessimistic viewpoint where we only see and look for the negative things in life. Right now, we can look back over our lives and find something we wish went another way or had a different outcome. In this section, Groeschel teaches us to appreciate God’s “collateral goodness” and learn to look for His goodness in every situation. As a result, we learn to treasure the way God leads us as we discover to view our life from God’s perspective. Groeschel uses an analogy that depicts the perspective of two different birds, one a vulture, the other a hummingbird. Both birds are looking for something, and what they look for, they eventually find. However, the difference is, that the vulture only looks for dead things, while the hummingbird looks for life-giving nectar. The application: we control how we choose to see things and what we look for in our experiences. In life, what kind of bird will you be, a vulture or a hummingbird?
The final principle that Groschel employs is the Rejoice Principle: Revive Your Soul, Reclaim Your Life. The key takeaway here is the power of prayer and praise and their effects on your mind. He discusses the findings of Dr. Andrew Newberg, the director of research at Thomas Jefferson Hospital and Medical College, that prayer is similar to a physical workout. Instead of building muscles, it changes the chemistry of the brain. And if nothing else, that should encourage you to pray more often! We so often hear that prayer changes things, but not often enough that prayer changes you. We are encouraged and invited by the God of the universe to spend time with Him in prayer. “Oh what peace we often forfeit, oh what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry, ev’ry thing to God in prayer” are true words from the Hymn “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” All our worries, concerns, and anxieties don’t have to be tucked away and hidden in a pretense of looking strong. We need to bow our heads and confess these flawed and doubting thoughts and feelings, followed by praise for His truth, and we’ll find ourselves at peace exchanging our weakness for His strength.
In conclusion, I highly recommend this book to anyone battling mental anxiety, depression, or frustration in life. This book will cause you to confront yourself as you read the biblical and scientific evidence of our thoughts’ value. As I did, I believe you will appreciate Craig Groeschel’s realness that is shared throughout the book. He draws these lessons from his own life that comes across in a relatable way, leaving you with the confidence that if he can do it, so can I. Get your copy of Winning the War in Your Mind: Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life, and join the army of fellow “thought warriors!”