The Antidote for Victimhood and Complacency
From the series Get Out of Your Head
The Bible says that we’re more than conquerors in Jesus. But some days it really doesn’t feel that way, and you're convinced life truly isn't fair. In this message, guest teacher Jennie Allen wraps up her series “Get Out of Your Head.” She’ll tackle the last two common yet toxic thoughts that pollute our minds: Victimhood and complacency. Don't miss how these mindsets can destroy our lives, and unravel our relationship with God.
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About this series
Get Out of Your Head
What drives your thought life? Is it anxiety.. loneliness.. feeling like the world’s out to get you? Perhaps you’re really pessimistic or obsessed with being recognized. Whatever it is, do you feel trapped by it? Like no matter how hard you try, your mind still drifts back to these ideas? In this series, Jennie identifies 7 common thoughts that are actually toxic to our lives, and can derail our connection with God. Don’t miss how to break free from these dangerous mindsets - by wielding the power God’s already given us. Let’s learn how to fight back and win the war for our minds.More from this series
Alright guys, we are talking about something that can feel heavy but I think is going to change your thinking and change your life because we have accidentally all become victims and I'm telling you, you want to talk about something that robs joy. It is not believing we have responsibility over our lives. That we have authority or power over our lives.
When we start to believe that we are victims to our lives, to our circumstances, to our thoughts, to our feelings, to our situations. Oh my gosh, that is where we become paralyzed. We become defeated, we become sad, sad, sad. And so this one matters. It is absolutely rampant in our culture. To some degree, all of us have taken up this banner of victimhood in some way.
It might be in a relationship where you've been wounded and might be with a circumstance that just feels so unfair. We have been owning this idea that we are so wronged and I say no more, no more. And the reason I say no more is because that is a miserable way to live. And it's not even true. That God has given us so much authority and power over our circumstances, over our feelings, over our mind, over our attitudes about things that we can change. And we don't have to live like this.
So let's talk about, first of all, there are real victims. I want to be super clear. I'm not saying that there are not real victims. My gosh, the news, you just have to watch a one minute and you see true atrocity against mankind, like just things that you can't, your stomach can't even barely handle of the difficult circumstances so many of you are facing right now. It's unthinkable. Some of you have been victimized to such an incredible level, and so I just want to say to all of you that have been abused to all of you that have been wounded and hurt by people, I am so, so sorry and no, I'm not saying that you aren't a victim. You are a victim to a crime, to a perpetrator, to an action that was done against you. You are a victim.
But what's interesting is as I've interviewed people that are victims. What I've found is that so many of them don't even like that word. They don't want to use that word about themselves because they don't want to give that much power to their perpetrator. They like the word survivor better because that puts the power in their court. They're saying, you know what? I survived you. I survived that attack. And I think what I've heard and learned from them is that being a survivor puts the power back in their court and they want to be those that are not defined by the thing that happened to them.
What I'm speaking to is the victimhood mentality of all of us. That continues to feel like we have been wronged and life isn't fair and it's us against the world. I'm going to use a story about my son as an example. When my son came home recently from fishing with some friends, he had this story of just, I mean, wow, it was bad, like how he got treated, why it went down? I was like, wow, this is pretty bad. And then I was like, well Cooper, what did you do to to bring this on? And he said, well, you know, I mean, I mean it wasn't fair but I, I got mad cause so-and-so said this. And then I threw his stuff in the lake and I was like, well, okay buddy, you know, not so much of a victim.
And I think that's what I'm talking about is not true victims that have been completely sinned against and abused.
I'm talking about the fact that we are moving in and out of relationships, in and out of circumstances where we continue to just go, Woe is me. I am being wronged by the world. When likely we need to take some more responsibility for our own actions and how have we contributed to the situation.
Also, I'm talking about victimhood that steals the power of God from a situation where we begin to speak as if there's helplessness and hopelessness when God has said: I've made you more than conquerors. I've made you more than conquerors, and I have equipped you, like Corinthians says, with divine weapons to destroy strongholds. So we are not victims.
I'm talking about just our stubborn will. You know, I'm just talking to the, the stubborn will in all of us that just says, Poor me. We have a poor me mentality. And what happens when we live in that? And even if we struggle with mental illness, even if we struggle with victim-hood from real, serious hurt and abuse and crimes, we still can't live in that place of poor me. Or we're going to lose all our joy. And we're not going to believe God for healing. We're not going to believe God for a future and a hope.
And so what I'm saying is we've got to shift that. So let's look at the scriptures.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: “Rejoice always pray without ceasing. Give thanks in all circumstances for this is the will of God. In Christ Jesus for you.” How does God say we change and shift our mindset from poor me, to good God? And it is this. It is with gratitude. It is with gratitude. It is with worship. It is that we see the good in our lives.
People that are grateful are happier. This is not mysterious science stuff. This is science though. In the studies that I looked at universally, people that just say things like, thank you. They actually change their chemistry. They change the way that their bodies are working.
Expressing gratitude caused subjects in the study that the National Institute of Health did to increase dopamine hits the reward transmitters actually send happy thoughts to your brain. Like this is something that changes our chemistry. This isn't just something that God says to do because it's the right thing to do. God hardwired us to be grateful people.
Our model for this is Paul, right? I mean, he was often in difficult circumstances and yet he had this ability to view his life within this framework of eternity and with this framework of great hope and great joy and great gratitude.
If all Paul saw were his circumstances and his imprisonment, then he would have been despondent. But he didn't just see that he actually saw the power of God to use him in the midst of those circumstances. He saw the power of God to use him in the midst of a generation by writing these letters to the churches, he saw the power of God to eventually rescue him and bring him home.
So there was great hope in Paul, that whatever his circumstances were, they were God-given. And how could he twist them instead of being the victim in prison, even as an innocent man, how could he twist that circumstance and believe that he was in the exact right spot? So that, Philippians says, that even the guards are seeing the glory of God in him. Like this is what happened in prison, is that guards were saved like that. He saw himself as a missionary, even in prison, even when he was so unjustly treated.
I think this whole idea of living a life of gratitude instead of victimhood, it feels daunting. It feels like, how do I move into this? And I think the way that we've got to do it as one, we've got to believe in all of these situations that these supernatural, divinely powerful weapons, that Corinthians talks, that they're real, that we are actually fighting with real weapons, even though they're invisible. That gratitude is a weapon that slays darkness, that prayer is a weapon that slays darkness, that connection with other people and them fighting for us, it slays darkness. Time with God, it's slays darkness. So we can't treat these like, Oh, I'm just going to say a prayer. It's like, no, I'm going to fight the devil. You know? That's what we're doing with prayer.
And so we've got to believe in these things that God is saying His power dwells in because it's supernatural fighting supernatural, right? So we have a choice. We can center our thoughts on the certainty that no matter what comes, we are upheld securely by God's righteous right hand.
So how does this actually flesh itself out? One, I think we've got to see it in ourselves and we got to ask bold questions of our friends. We need to ask our friends like, do you see me being a victim to my circumstances, to my mind, to my emotions?
Ask that question to people that know you really well and be ready for the answer because honestly, this enemy that's fighting for us, people see it.
And then we’ve got to own that and we’ve got to say, okay, what does it look like for me not to live as a victim to this? What does it look like for me to, with authority and with power, to trust God more and to hope more and to believe the truth about myself, to believe the truth about my future and that's going to take war, right? We're at war.
All of these situations, all these things. Remember, these are enemies. They are coming for us and we've got to fight back. We can't just passively get over this and like have a positive thought. We have to fight this in a bigger way than just changing our thinking. We have to actually go to war with it. Go to war with these weapons and I'm telling you, gratitude is one that helps this.
When you are going through something where you feel beat up or you feel like backed in a corner where you feel like helpless, hopeless, I want you to start noticing, noticing the good in people, noticing the good from God, noticing the good in your life and all of a sudden it's like, Oh, you know what? Everything is not going to hell in a hand-basket. I actually see God advocating for me. I see good happening around me. I see good in myself. I see myself being stronger than I was yesterday. I see myself getting up today and taking care of my kids when I didn't think I could breathe.
You start to notice those things and you start to realize how strong you are, how strong God has made you, and how good He has been to you and how much He's watching out for you. It is a different way to live. It's a supernaturally different way to live.
So let's look at the scriptures. “You, my brothers and sisters are called to be free but do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh,” - to be lazy, adding that myself - “rather serve one another humbly in love.”
And I'm adding to be lazy because I do believe it is a temptation of our generation to check out, to numb out. It's all too much. We're bombarded with too many problems. What can we do about it? How do we even help? And we pull back and get online and we zone out and we numb out and we get complacent and I'm going to interchange the word lazy with this because I really believe that we need to hate this word. I think complacency sounds kind of neutral, but laziness. That's not okay. But the way the enemy's getting us to it is he's just overwhelming us to the point that we, we don't think we can participate in this big story because there's just too much to do.
My husband always says the definition of leadership is taking initiative for the good of others and so as we start to reject passivity and we lean into the needs around us, what happens to our minds is that they get set on the things of God. They get set on other people and they get set on things of God.
I've talked about this before that Hebrews 12 is a theme passage for me and I want to say something about it again and that it says: we fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. We throw off the sin and the weight that so easily entangles us and run the race that’s set before us didn't get the order right on that, but it doesn't matter because what I believe happens is that's happening simultaneously, that all three of those things are happening at the same time.
That as we run the race that’s set before us, we have to fix our eyes on Jesus because we need Him and the sin and the weight falls off of us because we've got a mission and we're busy and we're tired and we're running after God. And so that idea of mission and intentionality leading and loving well that God's called us to that idea of doing it. It feels big to us. It feels unknowable to us. It feels like we're not equipped for it and we dismiss ourselves. But y'all, as you get on the track and get off the sidelines and just start doing it, you cannot believe how much of your sin and weight falls off of you.
You don't have time to think about yourself so much. You don't have time to think about your problems so much. You don't have time to be a victim. You don't have time to sit around and feel sorry for yourself, but you do have time for God because you need Him. Because you're actually taking risk and you're nervous and you don't know what's about to happen and you're praying more and you're asking God for miracles and your friends lives and you're praying for God to move around you. And so there's this movement in your life that is God-centered and God propelled but requires our initiative to participate. I love that God does this.
I mean, ideally if I'm God, I would just make everybody robots like you will participate in the movement of My work because I want you all to do what I want you to do. But that's not how God built us. He built us with a choice and we've talked about this a lot throughout this series that we have a choice. We have a choice. What we think about, we have a choice how we live. We have a choice in our perspective and we have a choice when it comes to spending our lives for ourselves selfishly, lazily, or we have a choice to spend our lives well, for the glory of God and the good of people, and I'm telling you, it is the best way to live.
Science would tell you that subconsciously, you want to please yourself. You want to take care of yourself, you want to feed every desire that you have, but that brains that actually don't do that, that serve others and that spend more of their time thinking about other people are the healthiest brains.
Those are actually the ones that are thriving. The science research that I did on this said consistently that serving others reduces stress, that there's a deeper connection in your life to other people. People who live with purpose, they actually sleep better and they live longer. Like this is physically affecting us. Our brains are made to serve other people.
I really cannot sell this hard enough. And the reason I mean it is because as you serve God and you get on board with His mission, so many things fall in their place. You are dependent on Him. You are quick to ask for forgiveness so the mission isn't disrupted. I think in my own life, because I'm on mission, how many times I am lulled out of complacency just because a lot has been given to me and a lot is expected of me. Yes, in my flesh like Galatians, I would like to use my freedom to serve my flesh. That sounds good on a lot of days, but the truth is I have a deadline. I have somebody that needs me. I have a meeting that is to serve an organization I care about. I have something that propels me out of bed and way from Netflix on a given day and I'm so grateful for that.
The times in my life where I've really taken too long of a break, I start to get selfish and I start to just, you know what I do? You know what I do? I internet shop. That's what I do. I get online and I start to shop and do I need another thing in my entire life - I really don't.
And I'll send stuff back. I'll just send it to my house, try it on, send it back. I know all the men are like, I know your type. You live in my house. I know, I know we frustrate you, but it's too easy. So what happens when I don't have enough to do? I get selfish. I get complacent. I get lazy, I get materialistic. I feed my flesh, my flesh grows. I feed the spirit. The spirit grows and service feeds the spirit. Sacrifice feeds the spirit. Now I'm not talking about sacrifice for the sake of sacrifice.
I'm talking about obedient, godly, risky sacrifice for the glory of God. And guys, it is a more difficult way to live. It goes against your flesh and what you want to do with your own freedom. But I'm telling you, it is how we were built to live and we are not joyful and we are not free any other way. You want your mind to be free? You go serve people and you get out from under the idolatry of yourself and I'm telling you, your mind starts to shift.
It is getting in the game and it's not sitting on the sidelines with your arms crossed being critical of everything happening on the field. It's actually getting in the game and serving God. Now I know some of you are processing. What does it look like to use my gifts? I don't know what I'm good at. I don't know what God wants me to do. You know what? There is need right in front of you and that need. You don't have to go find some mysterious calling or a mission field. It's right where you are. What is the need in your neighborhood? What is the need in your kids' friends' lives? What is the need in your kids? What is the need in your marriage? What is the need in your friends' lives? You look right in front of you and you meet need.
It's a great way to live. And as we do it, and as we serve God, the supernatural power of service is that we are not so focused and fixated on ourselves. So we shift our gaze and we see that there's a greater plan for our lives than building a comfortable life. Guys, that's what this life looks like. It looks like faithful, steady obedience.
Our minds fixed on Christ, loving other people, and as we do, the world changes a little bit by a little bit.
And you want to live a life like this, that’s contagious? You want a mind like this that is healthy? The power of God is within you. You are not left alone as an orphan. He has given us a Counselor. He's given us Himself in the form of the Spirit. And that Spirit, if you follow Christ, is accessible to you and it is powerful and so we are not left alone to figure this out.
I am telling you, He loves you and He's fighting for you and He's with you, and He wants to see you take greater strides for His Kingdom and for His glory.