I remember when my son studied about Johnny Appleseed in his first grade history class. Some think that Johnny was a fabled character who embodies the generous spirit of America. But, he was a real person. He was an entrepreneur type who loved his apple trees and made it his mission to plant nurseries of apple trees all over his part of the country. By the time he got through there were apple orchards all over the place. Johnny was a planter. And he spent his time and effort planting seeds that would blossom into trees that would provide sustenance to millions. Our topic today is not about agriculture but is neurological in nature. The question today is what kinds of seeds are you planting in your mind? What kinds of thoughts are consuming your days? There is a battle going on for the mind and it is being lost at the seed level. We are planting the wrong kind of seeds and therefore we are growing the wrong kind of trees.
This is really true when it comes to managing our minds during tough financial times. The key to winning the battle for the mind has to do with what we allow our minds to focus on. If we focus on what we do not have then we will plant seeds of anxiety that will grow into mind-trees of hopelessness. If we focus on what God is able to do then our minds will grow beautiful orchards of contentment. Now I know that our thoughts may not pay the light bill. But thinking about the right things keeps our hearts with the right perspective, which affects our attitudes which allows us to struggle well in times of adversity.
I love my wife for a lot of reasons but one thing I really admire about her is that she is a woman of faith. Oh, she has season of doubt like the rest of us. But, she believes that God is able to take care of us. Even last night she was reminding me that there is no shortage of resources that God is able to bring to bear in our current financial struggle. How does she do that? She focuses her mind on the things of God and His promises in our lives. And she looks back to what God has already done on our behalf. In short she has planted seeds of faith in her heart and they have grown into trees of faith.
Listen to Paul’s list of seeds to plant in the gardens of our minds.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8
Paul gives a great list of things that we should focus our thoughts on. I have rearranged the order to spell the word PLANTER. These categories of thoughts could help you make some progress in your thinking. Memorize the acronym and work systematically through the list till you are thinking rightly. When you catch yourself thinking of ignoble things you should try to shift gears to thoughts that are:
P-ure and Praiseworthy
As I was working through this article, it occurred to me that each of these thoughts that I need to be planting in my mind ultimately describe our Heavenly Father. He is pure and praiseworthy. He is lovely. He is admirable. He is noble. He is true. He is excellent. He is right. And while there are other things in this world that are worthy to focus our mind’s attention on, our God who spoke the universe into place and daily shows His benevolent providence towards us should be the major focus of our minds during our times of need.
One of the core messages of Scripture is that God owns it all and we are His managers. The Psalmist says it this way, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters” Ps 24:1-2. Because God owns it all we as His managers must focus our minds on Him instead of our circumstances. What does He want us to do to manage His resources. This should shift our thinking to a place of balance. It is not ultimately about us but Him. Our Father knows what we need and wants to take care of us as we represent Him.
We have got to get our act together. It is not going to happen naturally, we must exert discipline and God’s strength to get to where we want to go. What if Johnny had never planted more apple trees? Think of how many would not have experience the fruit of his labor. No apple pie, no apple strudel, no apple cider or apple dumplings. We owe a lot to Johnny! If fact I would like to pay homage to him right now. Pass me some apple pie and let’s have it alamode.
Tim Howington is Executive Vice President for Freedom 5:one and is one of our Financial Life Coaches. He lives with his wife Terri and son Josh in Rogers Arkansas.