The Slave Mindset

Posted: October 31, 2011 in Spiritual Growth
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Similar to a poverty mindset, some people are going through life with a slave mindset. I believe we need to get past this limited type of thinking in our lives. While you can look normal operating in this mindset, your life will have unnecessary limitations if you can’t change this type of thinking. Whether it is a business venture, a family situation, or an important life decision, I hope this post will help you see a little bit more from what I will call “the friendship mindset.”

In John 15:15 Jesus says, “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”

If Jesus’ preference was to treat us as friends, though he could have easily chosen to call us servants, how much more should we treat ourselves and others this way?

Here are some key slave mindsets that we often struggle to overcome.

1. A slave is kept in the dark about the most important matters.

There is an important leadership principle in John 15:15 that took me a while to see. We come to a place in our relationship with others where we have to trust them enough to share our dilemmas with them, especially if we are put in leadership over them. Refusing to shield people from truth shows them that we have confidence in their ability to handle it. It was as though Jesus, the leader, was saying to his disciples, “There was a time when I had to treat you like servants, because you were not accustomed to thinking for yourselves, but now I believe you are grown up enough to deal with reality. We are going to have so much more fun as friends, rather than merely a teacher/pupil relationship. I have been waiting for this moment more than you know. Now let’s talk. I’ve got nothing to hide.”

2. A slave is not expected to make decisions.

I used to think that I wanted God to just tell me what to do, and that this would solve all my problems. Sometimes God was silent when I felt I needed answers. As a matter of fact, my earthly father acted the same way. In my teen years, I would ask him what to do about some dilemma I was facing and he refused to solve my problem. It was frustrating then, but now I realize the wisdom of both my fathers. The lack of instruction caused me to use the brain God gave me to make decisions. I think we forget that sometimes, there are many right answers. Not to say that there are no wrong answers, just more than one right option.

If you are a slave, you are not, “hired for your brains.” You are stripped of any ability to make your own decisions. That’s why slavery is so demeaning. Made in the image of God, we were made to be creative, to solve problems, to make decisions and to rule over all things. God does not want you to be an automaton, otherwise he would not have endowed you with free will. I believe that he wants to co-labor with you to create something beautiful. I love how my pastor puts it: 100% God and 100% You.

3. A slave is not intrinsically motivated.

A slave lives hand to mouth and is not accustomed to seeing things from a larger viewpoint. He is not used to dreaming big or delaying the immediate for a bigger cause. The inner motivation of a friend or partner is stronger than that of a slave. I have spoken with people that seem to have no thoughts of their own and simply want to be told what to do, seeming to take almost no pleasure in what they are doing. I question, where is their motivation? Are they just doing it to please me? If so, that saddens me a little. I have to wonder what burned them so much that they no longer want to risk having thoughts and goals of their own? A partner in business is sure that he will share in the reward of his labor. He will work long hours and do what it takes because of the promise of reward. If we think we have to obey without any sort of reward, we are stuck in a slave mentality. There is no joy in that. Even Jesus needed a reward when he endured the cross. He didn’t embrace the shame of it, rather he scorned the shame. What he embraced was the eternal reward that his father promised him.

What are some of your thoughts and desires that have been hiding under the slave mindset?


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