You’ve probably seen spiritual reactors. They’re spiritual because they believe in living spiritually; and many whom I encounter are Christians.
They’re reactors because they allow the environment around them to shape their behavior, and sometimes even their attitudes.
At their best, they reflect things like peace and joy… right up until life hits a speed bump. At worst, they experience a meltdown at their core. If you’ve ever witnessed a spiritual meltdown, you’ve seen a double tragedy: not only is someone’s life falling apart, but the “spirituality” they represent loses all credibility in the eyes of those lucky enough to witness the event.
So… how can stop being “Spiritual Reactors?”
The first key is to change our spiritual equipment. As Pastor Nolan said Sunday, we need to analyze whether we’re a thermometer or a thermostat. What’s the difference?
A thermometer merely reflects the temperature around it. It has no ability to control or dictate… only to react. These are the people that become grumpy when they walk into a room of grumpy people. These are the folks whose lives were OK until they started hearing other people grumble. And being social creatures, we don’t want to be left out.
So we grumble too.
Thermometer people are basically allowing someone, or something else to determine their state of well-being. There’s a lot of uncertainty as a thermometer person: you never know what the day will be like. It depends on what you encounter. And that can be hugely frustrating… for everyone.
So if a thermometer person wants to have a good day, they just avoid anything negative.
Here’s why that’s a problem:
- Negativity is everywhere... the only way to avoid it is to become a hermit (and even hermits complain… it’s just that no one is there to hear them! (So… did they really complain? :-)))
- This world is going to be a rotten place becoming more rotten by the second if no one is out there trying to make a difference.
So, what’s a person to do? What if we became…
Thermostats set the climate in their surroundings. They don’t react, they are proactively set to establish the conditions around them.
What does this mean as an individual? It means we don’t react. It means our surroundings, no matter how abysmal, don’t have to dictate how we behave.
It means we are free to proactively engage a negative world and make a difference.
As an individual, the benefits are fantastic: more energy, positive outlook, etc… And the organizations and groups you hang out with will experience the same positive results.
Why Aren’t More People Doing It?
Said simply, because we’re the ones trying to set the thermostat.
We (humans) believe that if we just think happy thoughts… or chant our mantra long enough… or have enough positive affirmations, our will power alone will be enough to affect our surroundings and drive a change for the positive.
But the truth is, humans don’t possess that capability over the long haul. We may have limited success… there may be some that have more success than others… but ultimately, our human reserves and willpower will not be enough. Someone much more powerful has to set that thermostat for it to stick.
What’s the Answer?
The quick answer… we need to be full of it.
Here’s how the Apostle Paul phrases the longer answer:
“So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit,” (Eph 5:15–19 NLT)
When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we can be proactive, making the most of every opportunity to impact the world around us. The Holy Spirit guides, teaches, and reminds us of everything Jesus taught (John 14:26).
When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we are better able to reflect the greatest thermostat in human history: a humble man from Galilee who not only changed the climate around him in his day, but he continues to do so 2,000 years later.
And as we follow him, by the help of The Holy Spirit, we can be a part of that same proactive change that paves the way for His Kingdom to come.
From this day forward, I choose life by thermostat. What about you?
Where have you seen positive change in your world? What stories do you have of successful “thermostat people?” Share them in the comments and encourage someone to make the leap from thermometer to thermostat!