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Watch 2022 online sermons » Craig Groeschel » Craig Groeschel - Think Empowerment Not Control

Craig Groeschel - Think Empowerment Not Control

Craig Groeschel - Think Empowerment Not Control
Craig Groeschel - Think Empowerment Not Control
TOPICS: Leadership Podcast, Mindset

Hey, it's great to have you back for another episode of the "Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast". And guess what? It's bonus episode time again. Over this five week period I'm excited to release the content from the masterclass called "How the Best Leaders Think". I'm so excited and thankful for the feedback from people from all over the world about my newest book, "Winning The War In Your Mind: Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life". I know there were thousands of you that pre-ordered a copy of the book. And for those of you that did, you got free early access to the masterclass, and now we're excited to release it to help leaders all over the world.

Now, a lot of you are asking, especially from different countries, how do we get a copy of the book? And I wanna tell you, the book is available in all formats, of course, physical copies. You can get this digitally all over the world, and there's an audio version as well for those of you who love to listen. In fact, before we dive into new teaching today, I wanna give you a short audio teaching, in just a moment, but I wanna remind you that we're looking at how the best leaders think. What we're gonna talk about today is we're gonna talk about think empowerment, not control. Next week we're gonna talk about thinking investment, not spending. Then we're gonna talk about how to think possibilities, not problems. And finally, we're gonna think inspiration, not motivation. Before we dive into today's teaching, I do wanna encourage you to go to, hit subscribe. And you'll also wanna get a copy of the leader guide. We've got questions and exercises for the masterclass, as well as a digital insert of today's audio portion of the book.

If you didn't know, all of our podcasts are available to watch on YouTube. And for this message series, we're releasing the teaching one day early on YouTube, for those of you that get really, really excited. Now, subscribe to the podcast wherever you listen, tap the bell icon on YouTube, and you'll get notified with new releases. Before we go into today's content, I wanna give you a short audio excerpt from "Winning the War in your Mind". Chapter two, becoming a thought warrior. The professor guiding us in the advanced thoughtology course we're about to take will be the apostle Paul. His writings will teach us the biblical way to win the battle in our minds. Incredible as it is to consider, Paul wrote some of his teachings while in prison. And yes, his door was actually locked. Yet, even though his body was behind bars, Paul's mind was still free. How? He had taken his thoughts captive, long before he entered a jail cell. He knew two truths that we also need to know.

Number one, the battle for your life is won or lost in your mind. Number two, your thoughts will control you, so you have to control your thoughts. Paul had not always been a thought warrior. Check out how he described himself in Romans 7:15 through 24. He said, "I don't understand what I do. For what I wanna do, I do not do, but what I hate, I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it's no longer I myself who do it, but it's the sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out, for I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do. This I keep on doing. Now, if I do what I do not want to do, it's no longer I who do it, but it's the sin living in me that does it. So, I find this law at work. Although I wanna do good, evil is right there with me. For, in my inner being, I delight in God's law, but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am".

That doesn't sound like a guy who's mastered his thoughts. While we all get what he's saying, that just sounds a little crazy. But check out how Paul described himself in Philippians 4:12. He said, "I've learned the secret of being content in any and every situation". Now that does sound like a guy who's mastered his thoughts. Paul's change encourages me, because my thought life can be crazy. My mind can run out of control. I despair, I obsess, I can be confused. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed. It's like, I'm in a confrontation with myself and I'm losing. Yet, honestly, we can all be a bit crazy, right? You try not to worry, but you do. You tell yourself to be positive, but you aren't. Like Paul said, "What I wanna do I do not do". The daily battle is so frustrating. But Paul mastered his mind. He said he had learned a secret, so that means we can too. How did he win the battle for his mind? How can we? Paul also wrote, "Though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ," 2 Corinthians 10:3-5.

Notice that Paul used we in his statements. Those in a relationship with Christ can experience this change. Let's break down his words and see how the application can transform our lives. One, two, three, four, I declare a war. Remember thumb wrestling as a kid? Well, there's a World Thumb Wrestling Championship held in the United Kingdom each year. I know, I found it hard to believe as well. Two big, jacked, tattooed guys with names like Under the Thumb, and Jack the Gripper, stare menacingly at each other. You know they mean business. But when they say one, two, three, four, I declare a thumb war, that's when I lose interest. Two guys battling with their thumbs in a little professional thumb wrestling ring, just doesn't keep my attention. You and I, however, are actually in a war. I know, I can find it hard to believe too, because most days it just doesn't feel that way. Life just seems normal. But we are in a war. One that has less to do with our thumbs and everything to do with what's above our eyebrows.

I don't know about you, but I've never glared at the devil and said with him, "One, two, three, four, I declare a spiritual war". But maybe it's time. Forget the thumbs, declare war. Yet, Paul said, "We do not wage war as the world does," 2 Corinthians 10:3. The problem is that many Christians don't wage war at all. Satan is assaulting us with evil. He's delivering blows of deception and bombarding us with lies, but we can be oblivious to the attacks. As a result, our lives are not what we want, and we numb ourselves to reality. We long for more, but settle for less. We keep ourselves busy and distracted. We buy things, attempting to impress people and fill some mysterious inner endless void. We scroll mindlessly on social media, feeling left out, left behind and unimportant, as we compare our dull lives with everyone else's highlight reels. We do our best to pretend we're happy, while a war rages around us. And as a result, we're losing battle after battle.

You may recall from history class that the United States took a while to engage in World War II. We spent the first years maintaining a neutral position. We believed that because the war was over there, it wasn't impacting our lives. Eventually, it became clear that Hitler and the Axis powers would not stop. And that the freedom of the entire world was hanging in a balance. While the Japanese bombed our naval base at Pearl Harbor, that provocation was the final straw. Finally, the U.S. entered the war. On D-Day, we joined with other allied forces as 150,000 troops stormed the beaches of Normandy. The Germans had set about 4 million landmines to protect the beach from such an invasion. They also rained down gunfire on our men. The sacrifices that day were enormous. Thousands of lives were lost. But the engagement was necessary because there was no other way to defeat evil. To win the battle for our minds, we must engage, because there is no other way for us to defeat evil. The days of being neutral must be over.

A few years ago, I began to feel stuck. My thoughts were out of control. I would work on my message for church, thinking, "Last weekend's message wasn't good enough. And this one won't be either. I just don't have what it takes. I'm not good enough. I'm not even sure I can keep this up. I don't even know why people come to this church". If I poured more energy into being a better pastor I felt like I was failing as a husband and a dad. If I gave my best to my family, I was sure I was letting God down and failing the people in my church. Inside my mind landmines were everywhere and I was dodging bullets. My strongest thoughts were centered on my weakness, and I knew they were leading me to a place I did not want to go. Finally, I decided I'd had enough. I had to do something. It was time to win the battle for my mind. One, two, three, four, I declare a thought war. For about two years, my mind was my number one priority of prayer. I read so many books on the topic that I lost count. I also received counseling from a psychologist, and confided in trusted friends and mentors. I discovered and started using tools that allowed me to practice two disciplines, retrain my thought patterns and reorient my trajectory. Bottom line, I knew that if I ignored this battle any longer, I'd lose it.

So I changed my thinking and that decision changed my life. Destroying the stronghold. The lies we believe and base our lives upon are strongholds. Paul said, "The weapons we fight with have divine power to demolish strongholds," 2 Corinthians 10:4. So, we needed to demolish those lies that harm us. The word stronghold is translated from the Greek word, which means to fortify. In ancient times, a stronghold was a building, a fortress built on top of the highest peak in the city. This citadel was surrounded by a reinforced wall up to 20 feet wide. In times of war, if the city was attacked, the stronghold was often seen as unapproachable and impenetrable. Political leaders were hidden there, so they wouldn't be captured or killed. Paul compared the lies we believe to those fortresses. Like the walls of the strongholds, our lives have been reinforced over and over to become bigger and stronger. We believe them for so long, they become a part of us. We believe our walls protect us. We think they're impenetrable. And yet, they often keep the truth unapproachable to us. We have mental and emotional strongholds, the lies that have a stronghold on us.

I told you before about my belief that I was never enough, not good enough, smart enough, or successful enough. I thought I had to prove that I was worthy. You may have read that and thought, "But Craig, you're a pastor, you know the Bible. God tells us we don't need to be enough, Jesus was enough for us. Craig, you know God loves you and that's all that matters". If you thought that, yes, you'd be right. I did know that, I taught that. But deep down, I felt like that truth applied to everyone but me. Knowing those truths was not enough to penetrate the walls of my stronghold. My stronghold kept the truth unapproachable. I still believed the lie that I was not worthy and I had to prove myself, and that lie affected my life as if it were true. Yes, even as a pastor who taught others that very truth. Solomon gave us some very wise counsel to apply to this battle. He said in Proverbs 21:22, "One who is wise can go up against the city of the mighty and pull down the stronghold in which they trust". If you're in a war and attack a city, make sure you take down the stronghold. If you don't take the more difficult action of bringing it down, the city will reestablish itself. The leaders are hiding inside the walls, still very much alive.

So, you have to bring down the stronghold. Our word demolish is translated from the Greek word, which means destruction requiring massive power. The word also means to lower with violence, to bring something down with brute strength as with a wrecking ball. Regardless of our perceived strength, you and I do not have a massive wrecking ball power, but God does, and He makes it available to us. Yet again, Paul taught us this concept in Ephesians 1:19 through 20 in the New Living Translation. He said, "I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God's power for us who believe in Him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead". That's incredible. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is available to you and to me. Let that sink in. You have supernatural, resurrection, roll-the-stone-away power at your hand to change your mind, transform your thoughts, and win the war.

If God's power can take Jesus from death to life, then whatever you need can be done for you. That's the kind of massive power God is offering you. Isn't that encouraging to you? You've got astonishing power to help you. Don't give up, look up. What's your stronghold? What lie is holding you back? What mistruth keeps you from taking a step of faith? What wrong thought pattern robs you from living a life of freedom and joy? Know this, you cannot defeat what you cannot define. You have to identify the lie that has become a stronghold for you. You must realize the negative impact it's had on you and others. Do you see how you become a prisoner of deception, locked up by a lie you believe is true? If you're gonna change your life, you have to change your thinking. Demolish your strongholds. If you truly wanna change your life, you cannot just change your behavior. Even if you change your actions for a while, the original issue will just reestablish itself. That's why Christianity has never been about behavior modification, it's all about life transformation. We've all experienced that frustration, right?

If we make a New Year's resolution or some commitment to start or stop doing something, lose weight, quit smoking, pray more, stop yelling at the kids. Well, for a few weeks, it seems to work. And then we go right back to doing what we always do. Why? We haven't gotten to the root of the problem, the lie we believe. Addressing the problem is attacking the city. Identify and destroying the lie is pulling down the stronghold. Both are necessary to win the war. To do both and experience success, we need God's power. We cannot have victory without His strength and support. I have good news that may sound like bad news at first. You ready? You don't have what it takes to win the war. Neither do I. You know it because you've tried. You've tried to change your thinking, tried to change your life. You've done everything you can do, but you always find yourself back in the same place. You keep doing what you don't want to and not doing what you want to, just like Paul. You keep falling down and falling short. I get it, been there, done that. All the trying and failing and falling can lead to a place where we feel like giving up. What's the problem? The power you need is a power you don't possess. Relying on your own power is self-help, and self-help only goes skin deep.

You have a devious spiritual enemy. You have reinforced strongholds. What stands against you is formidable. Fighting in your own power is like attacking Godzilla with a flyswatter. Admitting that you need a power you don't possess is vital, even though it may be difficult. I know it is for me. If you've been taught to be an independent, self-reliant, pull yourself up by your bootstraps individual, confessing you don't have what it takes might feel like a weakness, but it's not. It takes real strength to admit I can't do this on my own. I need power greater than I possess. Once, after a blizzard, I tried to shovel a path to our cars to get enough snow off the driveway to back them out. In two solid backbreaking hours, I cleared a pathway big enough for a small squirrel to walk through. Just as my wife, Amy, was about to call 911 to save me from permanent frostbite damage, a neighbor from down the street drove by on his tractor. Yes, my neighbor has a tractor. Remember, I live in Oklahoma. In a matter of minutes, because of the power he possessed, my helpful neighbor had cleared out our entire driveway.

We tend to fight our battles with shovel power, but we need tractor power. We need a power we don't possess. We have to ask for and receive help. Remember the popular definition of insanity? Keep doing the same thing, expecting different results? If you've tried with everything in you and it hasn't worked, stop. Don't keep doing the same thing, you'll just get the same results. If you feel like you have to admit defeat and stop trying, don't do that either, because you'll keep living the same life. Don't give up, look up. Look up, because you have a gracious, generous God who has the power you need and wants to share it with you. To bring down your strongholds, it's time to go up. As a child of God, you have access to everything that belongs to your Heavenly father. So look up, go up, and access the power of God that you need to remove the lies and replace them with truth. Ask Him to show you the lies that you believed for too long. Tell Him you want your mind to be filled with His truth instead of the devils falsehood. And then thank Him for hearing you.

Okay, as we dive into part two of "How the Best Leaders Think," I wanna encourage you to hit subscribe, wherever you consume the content. Today, we're talking about "Think Empowerment, Not Control". As leaders, we don't wanna control everybody around us, but we wanna empower great leaders to do what great leaders do. So let's go now to part two of "How the Best Leaders Think". Well, we know the truth that your life is always moving in the direction of your strongest thoughts. And if we apply that to our leadership, we could say it this way, your leadership is always moving in the direction of your strongest thoughts. In other words, how you think will determine how you lead. And that's why I wanna tell you about one of the most common leadership mistakes, which unlocks one of your greatest leadership opportunities.

One of the biggest mistakes that so many of us believe, as leaders, and I'm gonna get up into your business and you likely believe this in some area, form or fashion of your leadership. You may believe the lie, for something to be done right, you've got to do it yourself, right? Because you love and believe in your organization's mission, and you embrace your standard of excellence, you often believe for something to be done right, you've gotta do it yourself. Let's take a step back and look at this from a higher altitude.

If you feel overworked, overwhelmed and overstretched, chances are you are overestimating your own importance. Here's the problem, anytime you overestimate your own importance, you unintentionally undervalue the leaders around you. And here's the bigger problem, when you don't value, trust and empower the leaders around you, either they don't grow or they don't stay. This is crazy important. I wanna say it again. Anytime you overestimate your own importance, you unintentionally undervalue the leaders around you. And if you don't trust them, empower them, believe in them, then they don't have the ability to expand their capacity or they do not stay with you.

And that's why, as leaders, we wanna change the way we think. What we wanna do is we don't wanna think about controlling, instead, we wanna think empowerment, not control. Why? Because if you believe that you're always necessary, If you're the only one that can do it right, you will quickly become the lid to your organization's progress. This is such a common problem to fall into it. In fact, if you look back at my history as a leader, this was one of my greatest weaknesses. Now, thankfully, with a lot of development, this would be one of my greatest strengths. I started to learn about empowering, not controlling, on my first round of counseling for being a workaholic.

Now, the fact that I just told you that there was one round means there were two. In other words, I had a lot of work to do. My first counselor told me this. He said, "Two of the reasons that you feel overworked, number one, is because you're prideful". Ouch. "Number two," he said, "you are an underdeveloped leader". Double ouch. What happened is I still believed that I was necessary for quality work to happen. And I didn't start to grasp the importance and the power of empowerment until I was maybe 30 years of age or so, when I was thrilled to hire a guy named Jerry Hurley who's been with me now for over two decades. Jerry was a district manager for Target and had tons of leadership experience.

I was a 30 year old pastor and very young and immature in my leadership development. Jerry told me one time in a very honoring way, he said, "Hey, Craig, you're great at vision casting. You're great at inspiring, you're a strong communicator, but your great weakness is you're way too controlling. You have to know everything and you have to be involved in everything". And Jerry said to me, he said, "Hey, if you'll trust me to do what I can do, together, I believe we can build something really, really special". And that was the beginning of me letting go of control, trusting someone who in so many areas was way, way, way, way better than I was. And that was the beginning of us building something special.

Here's the problem, many leaders are obsessed with finding the right strategy, the right product, or the right opportunity. But the best leaders are obsessed about empowering the right people. Let me say it again. So many leaders just wanna find out, hey, what's the hot idea, the right product, the right opportunity? But the best leaders, we're not thinking control, we're thinking of empowerment. We're obsessed with empowering the right people. That's why we're gonna think empowerment not control. As a pastor, I can't help but bring up the illustration of Jesus who recruited 12 men that everyone else would have overlooked. He developed them, He empowered them, He spent three years doing life with them. And then He said, "Go change the world".

In fact, in Christian circles, this is known as the Great Commission in Matthew 28. Jesus told these disciples, "Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I've commanded you". This little story, it clearly illustrates the two currencies of empowerment. What are they? Number one, the first currency is clear communication. Here's what I want you to do, specifically, this is your exact assignment. And number two is genuine trust. I'm asking you to do it but I'm trusting you to get it done and figure it out. When you look at this from a higher perspective, Jesus was crystal clear. Here's the what, I want you to go and make disciples. Here's the where, all nations. I want you baptizing them. He was clear on the what, he was clear on the where, but He gave them the freedom to determine the how.

I love that. It was clear communication and genuine trust. Here's what I want you to accomplish, but I'm gonna trust you to figure out how to get it done. Now, you may ask, "Okay, well how do I know if I can trust someone? I've got these leaders, I'm not sure they're prepared". You ready for a very specific answer to the question? The question is, "How do I know if I can trust someone"? And the answer is the best way to find out if you can trust someone is to trust them. That's what you do. And that's what Jerry did to me. He said, "Will you trust me"? And I did, and that's when things started to change. Now, it's gonna be difficult. And the reason it's gonna be difficult, and you may think this way, is you're gonna think, "Well, they're not gonna do it as good as I will".

And that may be true at first, but that's not the leader's mindset. The leader will think they may not do it as well now, but eventually the right person can do it way better than I could ever, ever do it. We have to embrace, as leaders, is this, you can have control or you can have growth, but you can't have both. And that's why the best leaders think differently about delegation. When it comes to delegating, when it comes to empowering, when it comes to trusting, the best leaders think, "I'm not just giving other leaders a task to do," the best leaders embrace the idea, "I'm giving our leaders opportunities to grow". In other words, the win isn't in just what someone accomplishes, the win is also in someone who has developed. Here's the difference, most leaders simply delegate tasks. Here's a very specific assignment. But the best leaders don't delegate tasks, the best leaders delegate authority.

When you delegate tasks, you're creating followers, people who do exactly what they were asked to do. They don't even have to think, they don't have to grow, they don't have to bring their own creativity. When you delegate tasks, you create followers, but when you delegate authority, you create leaders. What we wanna do is this, to get practical, is we wanna start to push the majority of the decisions deeper into the organization. Any time, come on, someone comes to you and asks you for a decision, as often as you can, you wanna empower them and just tell them, "You decide, I trust you. I could tell you how to do this, but I trust you to bring your own intuition, your own insight, your own gifts".

Now, are they gonna make mistakes? Yes, absolutely. But I would rather see aggressive, faith-filled and developmental mistakes than passive mistakes of those who don't have the courage to try anything new. Now, you might say, "Well, what if I don't trust my team"? Let me get up into your business again and tell you this, if you don't trust your team, then either you don't have the right people, or you don't have the right mindset. And either way, the issue is yours to solve. What do we know? The strength of your organization is not a reflection of what you control. The strength of your organization is a reflection of who you empower. And that's why, as leaders, we're gonna think differently.

One more time, the strength of your organization is not a reflection of what you control, take this to the bank, the strength of your organization is a reflection of who you empower. Okay, so what are we gonna do? As leaders, we're not gonna think control, control, control. Instead, we're gonna think empower, empower, empower because a lot of leaders wanna do things themselves, but the best leaders wanna empower other leaders to do great things.

I hope this episode was valuable to you. And if it is, please share and invite others to be a part of our leadership community. If you tag me on social media, and someone from my team sees it, we might repost. Also, I wanna remind you, you can pick up a copy of the book, "Winning The War In Your Mind". You may wanna grab one for someone else as an investment in their life. Next week, we're back with more bonus content. Part three releases a day early on YouTube. And we're gonna talk more about how the best leaders think in a different way. Show up with passion, show up with excellence in your heart, and be yourself. Take the pressure off and be yourself, because we say it all the time, people would rather follow a leader who is always real, than one who is always right.
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