Leave your mind on autopilot, and distractions will dictate your life. Set your mind above, and God will.
The question is not whether you can control your mind. You can. You can defeat distraction. The question is what you will do with this God-given ability. To what north star will you regularly reset your orientation? If you choose to coast, and not make any specific effort to set your mind on anything in particular, your thoughts and meditations will go somewhere. Your mind will default to something.
Will we be preoccupied with a favorite sport or team, how we look, how much money we make, how well-known we are, what we’d like to buy or own, what improvements we’d like to make to our homes? Or will we put in the mental effort to make our mind’s “home” to be the things of God (Matthew 16:23), his Son (Colossians 3:1–3), and their Spirit (Romans 8:5–7)?
In other words, will we raise our sails to the winds of the world, and let our age of diversion slowly drive us away from what it means to be fully human? Or will we fight, in the strength God supplies, to reset our minds to what really matters?
Hear the Notes of Heaven
It’s one thing to identify the importance of regularly setting our minds on the things of Christ; it’s another to begin cultivating regular habits for recalibrating our souls. How do we put such mind-setting into practice today? How do we go about seeking things above in the everyday routines of our earthly lives, and in such a way that we make a difference for Jesus in this world?
One way to think of it is to ask this question: What is the soundtrack of your soul? What “music” do you hear in the spare moments of your day? Put another way, where does your mind go when it’s free from its docket of daily to-dos?
Your “soundtrack” likely is not the same throughout your whole life but changes from season to season, perhaps even week to week. But your soul is preoccupied with something underneath the tasks and events of each day. And where your thoughts run to when you don’t direct them is telling. Where your treasure is, there your mind will default in your free moments.
Some soundtrack plays in the background of each of our lives to which our minds regularly return. What if that soundtrack was the music of heaven?
Whatever your season or stage of life, consider three timeless principles for “setting your mind” on Christ and keeping his music playing between your ears.
1. Start the Song
What you habitually do first in the morning says a lot about you. What’s first on your list each day is what’s most likely to get done. So wisdom learns to literally put first things first on a day-to-day basis, and doesn’t leave true priorities to get shuffled away by the chaos and craziness of everyday life.
At the daily level, the first moments of our day are primed for a morning reset of our minds on Christ. Sleep restores the body, but it does not, on its own, restore the soul. When we awake from sleep, we find ourselves in need of recalibrating our hearts by setting ourselves afresh on things above, to ready us for fruitful engagement here below.
2. Sing Together
God has designed that setting our minds isn’t just an individual endeavor, but something to do together with his people — and not as icing on the cake. Setting our minds together is an essential ingredient in healthy Christianity. This can be daily with a believing spouse or housemates, or in family devotions, and it is the weekly reset of corporate worship in the life of the church.
Christians are instructed, in no uncertain terms, “to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another” (Hebrews 10:24–25). When we gather to worship Jesus together, we are engaging in collective mind-setting on things above.
It is tragic how many professing Christians consistently dismiss the transforming power of “setting our minds” together by minimizing the place of corporate worship. The effects on the health of our souls in “neglecting to meet together” is nothing short of devastating over time. One pivotal aspect of what we’re doing personally each week in worship is rallying together around what matters most — better, who matters most — as we set our minds together on Jesus.
3. Tune Back In
Flowing from and reinforcing our daily and weekly resets, then, is finding fresh ways to come back to the soundtrack of the gospel as often as we can. Minds and hearts that are set on the things of God, Christ, and the Spirt want to develop the reflex to reset in the rhythms of life, not just once in the morning and once each week.
Perhaps it’s prayers of thanks before meals. Or a spiritually inspiring conversation with a believing friend, reminding each other of precious truths. It could be Christian substance you read in a book, or on your phone. Or what you listen to in the car, or while exercising or cleaning. A verse scribbled on a piece of paper to reference throughout the day may be part of the plan.
The key is not to try to live someone else’s plan, but to think creatively and find rhythms in your unique life to feed your soul and reset your focus. Learning to hit play in the morning, and to sing the music of Christ together with others each week, are powerful pieces to have in place. And as you find ways to regularly tune back in to hear a few bars or hum a few verses at various points during the day, you will find the music of Christ genuinely dwelling “in you richly” (Colossians 3:16), making you ready for the improv of everyday life.