7 Areas of Influence To Keep Watch Over Your Mind
How can you tell who has power and influence over your mind? And, how do you know what areas of influence to watch out for? This is what this post is all about. It is either God or the world, or more specifically, the Enemy that is at work to bring you further away from God.
And, how can the enemy accomplish this evil purpose? By taking control of where God gives peace beyond understanding, our minds. What we watch, read, listen, or consume can influence us to the point where it is a matter of life or death. The line of what is “okay” to watch, listen, or read is pushing back further and further.
Our minds are incredibly complex but has the tendency to be conformed to either the things of God or things of the world – quicker than you think. We thought at least 7 areas of influence to keep watch over your mind, even though there are possibly be more that we did not think of to include.
TV & Streaming Services
Church Leaders & Pastors
Who You Look Up To.
Let’s Go Over Why We Should Find Out Who Has The Power & Influence Over Our Minds
Bloody, gory, and violent scenes? Racy or suggestive actions displayed visually? Hearing or listening to music or movies that have cuss after cuss words without any warnings of bleeping? Social norms, lifestyles, or cultures that go against God’s Word? We, as believers in Jesus Christ and the Bible, have to draw the line of conviction of saying, enough is enough. We are called to pursue what pleases God, not what draws us away from Him and closer to the spirit of this world – the enemy of our souls.
“The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” John 10:10 NLT
This post is not to be dramatic but to highlight the risks of allowing anything and anyone into your mind, your heart, and your soul. For some people, the process of being aware of what you are viewing or listening to can be overwhelming, exhausting and maybe unnecessary.
But, if you are tuned into the voice of the Holy Spirit, the convictions of what you should or should not watch, listen, download, stream, scroll, or consume will become less challenging and more of a normal habit. You do not have to take full control of dissecting each and every little scene, word, or action you see or hear in your day-to-day life. God will do that with you.
Here is the crucial reason why being careful of what goes into your mind is this:
Have you ever had a negative thought about yourself because you viewed or listened, like a TV show, YouTube video, social media post, or etc.? Did you ever think that just maybe, it was because of what you saw or heard that made you feel less about yourself or believe a lie that you are not enough.
But, it starts out microscopic, almost untraceable. Like these small examples:
You aren’t doing enough in getting the popular clothes, jewelry, and shoes for your wardrobe.
You aren’t enough because you don’t work out enough or eat well enough to have that good body like those models and “influencers” online.
You aren’t doing enough for your skin because you don’t have $300 worth of skincare products.
You are not enough if you do not have that trendy look in your home, like that Magnolia decor.
You aren’t enough because everyone seems to be “doing it” and are happy and you’re committed to saving sex for marriage while no one wants to go out with you.
You aren’t good or doing enough if you do not abide by what the culture says you have to say or raise your fist in anger about.
You are not enough if you do not have a certain amount of likes or followers online.
You aren’t doing enough if you are not cancelling people online or starting a fight in the name of “justice”.
You aren’t cool enough if you don’t drink alcohol.
You are not enough if you don’t listen to this trendy, self-help podcast that has good, Christian quotes thrown around in there.
You are not enough if you don’t buy that book (It’s not like you are going to read it, anyways).
You are not enough if you have everything but you are still unhappy, unfulfilled, unsatisfied, up in your arms with depression, anxiety, alcoholism, addicted and just being plain miserable.
And, if you are not enough, then what is the point of living?
Y’all, that’s the enemy speaking because we have allowed our minds to absorb everything that may not be helpful, good, and overall destructive.
Now, as you can see, those tiny, microscopic examples we just started with got ominous and dark instantly. Allowing anything and everything into your mind, especially if it ain’t good for you, can lead you down a slippery and detrimental slope to darkness. And, it all begins with your mind. And, that is where the enemy pulls out all the stops, if you aren’t careful.
Remember, He comes only to steal, kill, and destroy. His purpose is to steal your joy + peace, kill you, and destroy your soul in the process. But, like Jesus says, He is life and will give it abundantly anytime we ask for help, to open our eyes to the lies.
One pastor recently shared this and this opened my eyes to how our minds can work in our favor or be cruel to us.
“Your mind can be your best friend or your worst enemy.”
And, I believe it is through what we allow into our minds.
So, how do we fight this, to know what is good to be allowed into our minds?
Like I stated earlier, we are not alone in this. We have God and His Word. And that is all we need.
“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” – Hebrews 4:12
In order to know the Bible, you gotta read it, daily and consistently. I know, it is so simple for me to say but difficult to physically sit down and read (or listen in an audio version, but I recommend having a physical Bible to read in).
Here are some Bible verses to get started in fighting what goes into your mind:
Remember, every battle starts in the mind. Then, it goes into the heart, the source of life or death. But, how do we do this? By taking our thoughts captive – being self-aware, stopping when a pattern of thoughts emerges that was not there before. And, figure out, with God’s help, where you were influenced to start thinking these thoughts.
“For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ…” – 2 Corinthians 10:3-5
But, don’t worry, you are not alone. Other fellow believers of Jesus Christ are going through this fight as well all around the world:
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.” 1 Peter 5:8-9 ESV
1. TV & Streaming Services
With TV, there are almost too many things to watch out for, especially if you aren’t truly paying attention, that can easily seep into your mind. While I do not want this post to get too long, I also do not want this area to go unnoticed without some key points to watch out for.
Streaming services, y’all. Netflix. Hulu. Even Disney+ isn’t out of the woods. We have Netflix, but thankfully, David’s dad allows us to have a section for us to watch. But, y’all, I really cringed and shuddered when the movie trailer for Cuties (created by Netflix) was released. I never watched the trailer or the movie itself, but the outrage was everywhere on the Internet. I won’t go too much into it.
Here’s an article talking more about the movie from a Christian perspective. https://www.christianpost.com/voices/cuties-controversy-why-the-movie-is-so-wrong-and-how-christians-can-stand-for-what-is-right.html
But, the ugly truth is being revealed about Netflix, and other streaming services. Their intentions are not for good and not biblical. We aren’t saying to cancel everything and throw out your TV. No, but we are saying to truly pray for God to open your eyes on the direction that the streaming services, the shows and movies they are creating, isn’t entirely good or biblical.
With shows and movies: it can be difficult to filter through every single thing…but one thing I’ve always checked for is the rating. I know, kinda obvious. But, for me, I cannot watch R-rated movies, unless I check out online on why the movie I am so interested in watching has a R-rating.
Mostly, the movies that I want to watch are not violent, gory, spiritual, demonic, killing kinds of movies. Sometimes, movies have R-ratings due to very strong language, a brief scene of nudity/sexual scene, or heavy drug usage. I will watch those movies, especially if they have historical aspects, but not always. Sometimes, the Holy Spirit will convict me or intervene by showing me that this is not okay for me.
Disclaimer: This is my conviction, all from the Holy Spirit, the Bible, and my personal experience. For me, there should not be strong, bloody violence, any promotion or displaying of demonic or satanic activities, sexual scenes/nudity, heinous crimes committed and displayed, blatant sinful activities or lifestyles that goes against the Bible. But do not take my word for it. Because I will still watch movies or shows that have drama, cuss words, and some violence. Everyone will have their own convictions.
“It’s true that our freedom allows us to do anything, but that doesn’t mean that everything we do is good for us. I’m free to do as I choose, but I choose to never be enslaved to anything.” 1 Corinthians 6:12 TPT
Everyone has their own limits, boundaries, and restrictions, and those all depend on what their minds and hearts are at with these images and scenes.
For me, I cannot watch horror movies, movies with tons of violence, blood, ominous scenes, and people being hurt or tortured. I will literally battle with my mind with all the images displaying in my head, especially when I go to sleep at night. One time, back in high school, I saw the movie Insidious (literally, y’all, as I was writing this, I got chills, no joke). I had nightmares from the movie every night for probably two to three WEEKS straight, but would still have on-and-off nightmares for months after that. In my nightmares, I was a part of the Insidious movie and I could not escape the evil, every single time. So, that is one example that I cannot compromise on.
If you do not know your own convictions, what’s unpleasing and impure to God, or if you are compromising your mind or heart, read this below:
Pray for God to open your eyes. The more you draw closer to God, the more the things that are not godly or good will be revealed to you and convict you. It may take time but those things will be revealed over time, as you read the Bible more consistently and get deeper with God.
Here are some further information on Netflix from a Christian perspective:
2. Social Media
This is one of the biggest contributors in people’s lives, besides the news (which I will get into further down). Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and so on, are everywhere and in our own phones. But, is it good for us?
Do you follow tons of influencers, YouTubers, podcasters/bloggers (like us!), pastors, leaders, entrepreneurs, famous people (just because)? If so, you can be easily influenced by who you are following, slowly seeping into your mind. This is where I was stating in the beginning how you could get discouraged, depressed, or unhappy from all the highlights and constant comparison through social media.
Of course, social media can be used for good. Like for us @thesimplemission, we really try to incorporate encouragement, Bible verses, studies, sharing our podcast episodes and blog posts, and just being a light of Jesus online. But, sometimes, there can be so much negativity and evil.
For instance, there are racy photos of women and men dressed in barely-there clothing, and this can undoubtedly drive you further away from God as your mind begins to use these images for comparison (“Why doesn’t my body look like that?”), bad thoughts, (“Wow, they look good.”) and others.
A while back, when my husband David was my boyfriend, he had to unfollow so many people, as I. The reasons why were these:
1.) To respect me.
2.) To protect his mind from further bad or negative influence.
So, here is my challenge to you: Who and what do you follow? Do you follow people that have respectable photos or not so good photos? Do you follow people who complain all the time or have words of wisdom and encouragement? Do you follow people who cancel other people who do not share the same views or stance? Do you follow people who constantly bring up politics and shoot down anyone who say otherwise? Do you waste your time watching people or videos that gets you heated and depressed? Do you leave your social media happy or defeated? These are all good questions to consider as you might go through your follow list, especially on Facebook. By the way, it is possible to unfollow people and still be friends with them on Facebook without them knowing and no one gets offended. Same goes for Instagram where you can mute people’s posts and stories and still follow them 🙂
Secondly, how often are you on social media? If you have an iPhone, there is a little section in your Settings called “Screen Time” and you can check how long you are on your phone and on social media. You might be really surprised. I know I was.
Here is why I ask you how long you are on social media:
The enemy wants us to stay on social media so we can stay distracted, tired, and in a state of mental fogginess, so that we are not awake or aware of his tactics.
Social media can be such a distraction, especially with our minds, that there is more to life than what goes on in social media.
There is such a sad epidemic, other than the obvious one we just went through in 2020, that the younger generation cannot live their lives unless it is posted on social media.
But, with God, when we do His Mission and purpose for our lives, so much of that happens outside of social media, outside of an image or boomerang or a live video or a status update on our Instagram story or Facebook feed or Snapchat or a tweet. For me, I’ve had to delete my Facebook app off of my phone and I can only get on through my computer, like in the olden days of 2005.
Our minds are slowly adapting to a lifestyle that rotates around how often we post on social media, the filters we decide to use, how to write out captions, and how to reach people without physically being there for them.
We have grown accustomed to social media, but that does not mean we do not have to comply with being online all the time. The less we are on social media, managing our time better and setting boundaries, the more we will be in tune with God and His voice on what He wants us to do. The thing with social media is that it is quite loud. It is loud with everyone’s voices, opinions, ideas, tips, arguments, updates, promotions, advertisements and more. How can you hear the voice of God if we are so tuned into our social media?
Use social media but don’t allow social media to use you. The enemy wants us to stay glued and keep our eyes and ears fixed onto social media instead of on Jesus.
Overtime, our social media will become saturated in our minds and become addicted to the notification, staying updated, and seeing the latest on things that won’t withstand when the kingdom of God comes.
3. Church Leaders & Pastors
Be careful who or what you are following, even in the church. There are particular Christians pastors and speakers that aren’t good for us. In the Bible, it states that people will begin to follow teachings their ears want to hear:
“For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths.” – 2 Timothy 4:3-4 NLT
Here is where you can tell the difference between a great, biblical pastor versus a pastor that is not aligned with the Word: if the pastor or leader do not stand out; rather, they look and act almost exactly like the world. Not really going into their clothing style, although that is a conversation for another time lol.
Nowadays, it is easy to find anyone that will fit into what you want and desire in your life, and not have to sacrifice anything for it. That’s where people tend to mess up. And, that’s okay. We’ve all messed up. Even I have followed or listened to pastors for years that either did not align with God’s Word or ended up turning from God Himself. But, y’all, we cannot reject the truth of the Word or pick and choose what we like about the Bible and throw away the rest.
Jesus said it Himself, to receive God the Father, you have to go through Him, the Son, who is the way, the truth, and the life. (John 14:6)
This section may seem so harsh because you may be thinking, “Well, aren’t they at least saving people in the name of Jesus Christ?” Well, it is mostly a NO. If the people being saved do not have a strong foundation, which is God Himself, then their salvation will be like the parable in Matthew 13 (the parable of the sower). And, Satan is so clever with his tricks and lies, that even those pastors, leaders, or churches are disguised as servants of light and righteousness, when it is not the truth.
“These people are false apostles. They are deceitful workers who disguise themselves as apostles of Christ. But I am not surprised! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no wonder that his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness.” 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 NLT
*In season 3 of our podcast, The Simple Mission Podcast, we talk more about what church is the best church for you to attend on our podcast, so if you are wanting to learn about what church is, why we go, and which church is NOT a church to attend, be sure to take a listen to those episodes!*
So, overall, be cautious on who you follow, their ministry, their works, and compare their words and teachings with the Word of God. This is to guard your hearts and minds, to stay focused on Jesus’ and His teachings, not the teachings of this world, which are contradictory to the Word and could lead you astray.
Here’s another major reason why leaders and pastors sometimes fall away from the truth of God’s Word: they are human. We are all flawed and will never be perfect. “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23.
So, it is important to be reminded that our hopes cannot be on pastors, leaders, or churches: obviously, we can learn and grow so much in our faith but we cannot rely on them alone. Only Jesus Christ can lead and guide you all throughout your life. If we set our minds to everything and anything that the pastors say or do, but then let you down, who knows how we might respond if we had the wrong mindset?
Here is a link for great thoughts from Carey Nieuwhof on the topic of pastors falling away:
Well, obviously the most important book in the world should be the Bible for you. But, of course, there are millions of other books in the world. Be sure to steer clear of the romantic books, especially if you are having a difficult time in your season of life. The enemy can really take advantage of your mind with reading certain books.
As for Christian living books, I will say this once: just because a book is written by a well-known “Christian” famous person or published by a so-called “Christian” publisher does not mean the book has Christian values that are aligned with the Bible. In fact, it may not ever mention God, but it mentions a whole lot about themselves and what they have accomplished or learned on their OWN.
One example of that is Rachel Hollis. I will never read her books. A few years back, I came across her first book, Girl, Wash Your Face, and every Christian and their mother claimed that this book is a must-read. As always, to find out more about a person before you buy their stuff, you stalk their Instagram. And, I did just so. But, she did not sit right with me. The Holy Spirit opened my eyes here.
Some of her quotes, while I believed came from good intentions of encouraging women, did not come across that way for me. As I read into Rachel a bit more, I realized that she was claiming how she accomplished and got to where she was in life without including God. And, that is a beautiful example of why I do not read certain books.
This one is a biggie. Music has such a unique way of influencing us because it can move us into action. There are certain songs that we can listen to and it will bring us right back to the feelings we had in the moment we listened to it. But, sometimes that is not good. Did you know Satan was an angel? And guess what he was in charge of: the worship of God…with music.
He has such a way of using music against you, especially on the topic of disrespecting people and pursuing pleasure and what you want. It is crucial to be sure the music you are listening to is promoting good things, not bad. I will just leave it at that. But like I said, everyone has their own limits and convictions, so there’s no right or wrong here.
This is not an area that I wanted to bring up. However, my husband David brought this up when I was going over the outline of this blog post. He stated, “People do not know what is real or not real and if they believe the lies of the media, look at what they can do from this.”
I am not trying to completely blame the news for what happened this year, but I will say this:
If you think you aren’t easily influenced, whether good or bad, by the news or the information you receive, think again.
Nope. Not even Fox News is off the hook. Information can drive you to form your own opinion, thought, and then action. Well, the news or information that you are consuming leads you to peace or deeper into a negative and confused outlook onto the world.
I remember my professor in the Media Theory and Research class did a quick study with everyone. She had the projector on a graphic of how much we think crime happens through the news versus the actual numbers in Corpus Christi. She had us raise our hands on a certain number of crimes that occur per year, and the majority of us, including me, raised our hands for 300+ deaths due to crime.
And, then she clicked on the next slide, which was the actual number and it was only 30. Only THIRTY! We, as a class, were mind-blown, but she explained that the more we watched the news reporting the crimes, the more our minds exaggerated that there is so much crime happening than it actually does.
It can be easy for us to fall into the trap of “I am loyal to this news channel versus the other channel.” But, y’all, in reality, the enemy just wants us to keep fighting with each other and stay afraid from what we watch on the news. I know because I have been there. I struggle with anxiety and it flares up more after watching the news or absorb a ton of information – I have to restrict myself from watching the news. My husband and I do not even have cable, so that made it a whole lot easier of a transition.
But, when I go over to my parents’ or grandparent’s house and they have the news on, I can feel myself get angry and anxious about what they are currently reporting on.
I do not want to write too much more on this area, but here are some articles on this subject if you want to dive deeper into this:
7. Who You Look Up To
I pondered on whether or not to list this one on here, but it is a legit one. Sometimes, we allow ourselves to get wrapped up in our own minds on what to do, how to make a decision, how to move forward, or even the other way around. And, it is perfectly fine to ask for guidance, help, or advice on something in your life. However, if you are solely relying on people, like your best friend, your parents, your sibling, or mentor, and not including God into it, then it’s already heading south.
I feel like this area is hard to grasp and can have gray areas for the topic of being careful. However, when we begin to rely on other people’s advice and not on what God has to say, then we are placing our hope in someone else that will eventually let you down. Not might. It’s eventually.
As I pointed out in the pastors/leaders section, your people are human also and they may not always have the right words, heart, or attitude. Of course, we can reach out to like-minded people that have the same beliefs in Jesus as you do, but we live in a broken world and chances are, they might get it wrong too.
This can also create a breeding ground for gossip. Gossip is something that God does not enjoy. It is one side for a person giving you advice to give you examples of what to do or not to do using people that you know or do not know. But, the other side of this is that this can quickly turn into, “Oh, well look at this person, like did you hear about___ and here is why you should not be doing or saying _____.”
And, when we allow gossip to fill up our conversations with people who say they are giving you advice, the gossip train will also fill up your mind. It is a cycle that begins and you almost cannot shake the constant thoughts popping up due to gossip. So, be careful with this one as well.
Here is a way to maintain this: if you have a problem, issue, you do not know which way to go, or you just need some help, who do you turn to first? Do you call up a friend first before praying to God? I am not trying to judge or shame you. This is an issue that I struggle with, sometimes. There is no shame in calling up or meeting up with someone you trust; as long as they do not become an idol in your mind.
In all reality, whatever we are struggling with, it always starts in the mind. So, if you want to get to the root of your deepest problems, check out who has the true power over your mind. But, don’t become afraid, for God is with us to help us identify our problems, face our sins and the enemy, and run to Him. He is the true source of life, peace, love, grace, mercy, and everything you could ever need and more. He is who should have complete power over your mind. And, He will take good care of you because He loves you.
“Whenever my busy thoughts were out of control, the soothing comfort of your presence calmed me down and overwhelmed me with delight.” – Psalm 94:19 TPT
Thank you for reading,