God's word in today's world

A paradigm shift

Philippians 3:1-3

I often use the term paradigm shift. Especially when I’m serious about changes to be made, either through new ideas or new thinking or even changed behaviour.

But what does paradigm mean? In his book The 7 habits of highly effective people, Stephen Covey explains it very well by saying that a paradigm is a model, theory, observation or frame of reference. Each of us carries a mental map that we use to interpret and process the information that enters our brains via our senses. That picture or map forms the basis of how we observe, see, and experience things, and eventually this determines our behaviour.

The map or picture is shaped by our parents, teachers, culture, brothers and sisters, friends, church, school, university, faith, etc. Each of them influences our paradigms. Some of them are good, but others not so good. And it’s not so easy to change or shift those things that are not so good. You might have believed something is the truth all of your life and suddenly you discover it is not a true reflection. That is where you have to make a paradigm shift.

When a boy grows up in a home where his dad knocks his mom about, physical abuse becomes the norm. To help the boy learn to regard this behavior as unacceptable, his paradigm must be shifted.

We need to make many paradigm shifts concerning Godly matters. Most important is to know that right from the start our flesh was not set up to move within the will of God. We must realize that we were born in sin and that this is something that we will have to fight all the time. We must know that we are focused on ourselves and by nature do not put others before ourselves. We would rather break down rather than build up. We can list hundreds of wrong paradigms in our lives that would have to shift.

And for sure this is not easy. What we have lived up to now have to change. This is so depressing, because that mountain is simply too high and it is too difficult to straighten all those skewed paradigms.

But fortunately God is one up on us and knows that we won’t make it on our own. From the goodness of his heart He gives us some help: 3… the ones the Spirit of God leads to work away at this ministry … We couldn’t carry this off by our own efforts, and we know it …

We don’t have to try and shift these paradigms on our own. God’s Spirit helps us. He works in our hearts and in a miraculous way we start seeing things differently. We experience things differently and before we know it, we start living and behaving differently. Suddenly the own self and what I want take a backseat and others become much more important. That is the result of a paradigm shift. And the Spirit helps us do that.

The new Christians needed an enormous paradigm shift to realize that circumcision was no longer needed, but faith in Jesus only.

Each one of us needs a few paradigm shifts. We have to accept that. We should be open to that. Yes, we have to open our hearts to the Spirit. We should talk to God and serve Him, because then the Holy Spirit will work on our paradigms in his own way and we will become and be and behave differently.

May that become true for each of us…


What do your paradigms look like?

Can they be shifted?

Which ones do you think should shift?


Our Father, thank you that I don’t have to work on my paradigms on my own. Thank you that the Spirit helps me with it. But I’m still afraid. I’m not mad about change. Please help me to talk to You more so that the Spirit can occupy more space in my life! Amen

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