Fixed or growth - what's your mindset?
Written by Bill Bradford
“The Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”
(Ps 111:10, Prov 1:7, Prov 9:10, Job 28:28)
This scripture ought to be important to us, since it is stated four times as listed above and is also said in some variation in other parts of the Bible. When you don’t have a good healthy fear of God you don’t learn wisdom. I can remember when growing up I feared the consequences of some of the things I did. The power of the emotion during a time like that was one of the unforgettable learning experiences in my life. Fortunately, most of my fears did not eventuate as the consequences were not as bad as I had imagined. Thank God for his mercy! But they could have been. Those occasions are still in my memory, and, again, thank God, I didn’t repeat the same mistake. The fear of what could have happened was enough. Was this an effective learning experience? You betcha!
The beginning of real learning for all of us is when we come to the point where we realize we are not everything we think we are. This is called “repentance.” “Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? But in accordance with the your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to each one according to his deeds” (Rom 2:4-6).
This is the fear of the Lord. One day we will have to give account as Paul says later in this same letter (Rom 14:10). Repentance is when we come to the stark realization that everything is not as it should be in our lives.
When God reveals to us who He is and His goodness toward us (personally), we should begin to get the idea that we are not what we think we are. All of us, all of mankind included, want to be good. And as long as we think we are we won’t grow. We become satisfied at some point as to who we think we are -- we are taken with our intelligence, our mind and our talents. We go no further.
This is what Carol S. Dweck says in her book MINDSET. She defines the two great mindsets of people -- the fixed mindset and the growth mindset. The fixed mindset is concerned with one’s own intelligence and talent and a growth mindset doesn’t see himself as exceptional. The person with the growth mindset therefore wants to learn and is not caught up with his innate ability. The fixed mindset will rely on his own perceived abilities, talent and intelligence. He tends to be caught up with himself and doesn’t need to put forth effort to achieve. A big mistake! This person, while thinking he is superior in some way, doesn’t grow. There are aspects of some religion that promote this mindset. The growth mindset is not so caught up with himself and realizes that he needs to put forth effort to succeed, therefore he grows.
When we encourage our children in their accomplishment, we should mention how hard he must have worked to achieve something -- not how smart or talented he is. The latter will create a fixed mindset, one which doesn’t see the need for hard work, after all, he has talent.
True repentance is the conviction that we are not like God. We need to repent and then we need to make the changes in our life. A person who “doesn’t get it” doesn’t need to change. Admission that he needs to change is seen as failure. Repentance is the hardest thing for a person to do. It implies that the person is really not what he should be and never will be. The fixed mindset doesn’t want to admit that. He sees it as failure. The growth mindset understands who and what God is and sees the future in terms of growth. Admitting inadequacy or failure is not a problem for him. Fixed mindset or growth mindset? It’s a great Biblical study.