As the COVID-19 pandemic rages, many states are instituting lockdowns, forcing people to stay in their homes as much as possible to keep the virus from spreading.
But within the supposed safety of their homes, many people are catching another type of disease entirely. Yet just because you won’t hear the CDC warning you about this disease doesn’t make it any less dangerous. While in quarantine, many people are starting to fall into dangerous types of negative thinking.
Michael Sipe—chairman of 10X, a ministry for Christian CEOs, business owners and entrepreneurs—says this negative thinking comes partly as a result of people not having much else to do.
“Many years ago, … my grandmother used to tell me that idle hands are the devil’s workshop, and idle lips are his mouthpiece,” Sipe says. “And so one of the challenges that we have when we’re in this state of forced idleness, or at least not knowing exactly what to do because we’ve been told to stay home and we’ve lost our regular routine, is that the danger of stinking thinking is very real.”
Sipe’s grandmother wasn’t just pointing to an old saying. The phrase she used actually comes from a biblical principle. The book of Proverbs warns us many times about the dangers of idleness. Sipe says this negative thinking occurs because we let our minds wander and allow ourselves to consume media that’s not helpful for us.
“We need to be careful with what we read and what we listen to and what we watch, because input equals output,” he says. “So if I listen to all kinds of negative articles and negative interviews and things like that—and add to that TV, radio, Facebook or social media—if I delude myself with that, basically that contaminates my mind. And then if I get on the phone, and I start talking to my friends, and they’re all down and grumpy and negative, that’s going to impact me as well. So we really have to control the input.”
The Bible seems to echo Sipe’s words when it says, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life” (Prov. 4:23). Instead of consuming tons of negative media and television, Sipe says, we need to fill ourselves with the Word of God and surround ourselves with others who do the same.
This practice is crucial if we want to be men and women of wholesome thought and speech. After all, James 3 warns us about bitter words.
“In the Bible, James talks about how you can’t have two kinds of water coming out of the same stream,” Sipe says. “You can’t have freshwater and saltwater coming out of a stream. It’s one or the other. The reality is that saltwater contaminates freshwater. And the same thing holds true for our speech. So we have to guard our speech because we could have saltwater spewing out of our mouths, and then that contaminates all around us.”
How Christians respond to this pandemic will greatly determine whether or not we let negative thinking contaminate our lives. Sipe says that if we see this as an opportunity to build resistance in the face of intense challenge, we can actually grow in many ways—spiritually, relationally, professionally and more.
“If we shift our thinking from What can’t I do? to What can I do and how can I innovate? How can I move forward? then there will be tremendous opportunities for everyone, no matter whether they’re employed or if they have a business or if they’re a pastor or if they lead a nonprofit,” he says. “This opportunity to be able to innovate is extraordinary if we take advantage of it.”
The best way to reject this negative thinking is by finding new ways to serve others, Sipe says. There’s a reason Scripture encourages us to “look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Phil. 2:4).
If that’s your goal right now and you’re a Christian business owner, then you should check out Sipe’s 10x. These groups help Jesus-focused entrepreneurs live a fully integrated life of work, worship and service. Just visit 10xgroups.com to learn more! You can also purchase Sipe’s book The AVADA Principle by clicking here. And make sure you listen to my full interview with Sipe to discover more ways to beat the insidious disease of negative thinking.