We are held back from our fullest potential for success by thoughts and beliefs rooted in error rather than truth. In this episode, we’ll talk about what the most common limiting beliefs are, where they come from, and how to overcome them!

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Your limiting beliefs are definitely holding you back from your fullest potential as a leader and an influencer.

One of the more important recordings I’ve ever listened to was Earl Nightingale’s talk on The Strangest Secret. He pointed out the fact that 95% to 99% of people never achieve real freedom or success in life. And the biggest reason why is because of their thinking patterns, their limiting beliefs. It’s epidemic.

We’re held back from our fullest potential for success by thoughts and beliefs that are rooted in error, rather than in truth. The beliefs that limit us have to do with money. They have to do with success. They have to do with relationships, with love, with our talents, or with criticism from other people. Limiting beliefs rule our lives if we’re not careful.

Until you understand where your limiting beliefs come from, it’s hard to overcome those thought patterns.

5 Sources of Limiting Beliefs

1. Childhood

You’ve carried some beliefs since childhood about the way the world works. It could be that you heard your parents disparage those who were successful. They had a negative attitude toward people with money. They had a negative attitude toward achievers. They had a general negativity and we picked up on that.

It’s possible you were told things that sealed you into a life of mediocrity. You were told things about achievement or about ambition.

2. Negative friends

A lot of your limiting beliefs come from the negative and jealous friends in your life. There’s this sort of whispering that takes place about the people down the street with all the money and the nice cars and, “Oh, I wonder how they got that.”

It’s those suggestive kinds of questions and criticisms that often feed and fuel limiting beliefs inside of us, that convince us that we should not seek to be successful.

3. A culture that celebrates mediocrity

As Earl Nightingale pointed out, we live in a system that is built for survival – a system built to help as many people as possible to not fail. We try to make sure that nobody is left out of that equation. We are settlers in a culture of settlers.

4. Poor theology

Some of our limiting beliefs come from a theology that says, God doesn’t want you to have anything. It’s a theology that says, if you desire anything, that’s bad.

Don’t want more influence. Don’t want more affluence. Don’t want more money or success or influence over the culture around you. Because any kind of wanting is bad.

Don’t get me wrong – I believe we need a theology of suffering. We need a theology that honors the place of suffering in our spiritual growth. But if we’re honest, some of our theology really limits what we’re allowed to believe that God might want to do in our lives.

5. A culture of criticism of and by other leaders

I’ve been watching this for a decade now. Anytime a leader – especially a church leader – rises to a place of influencing others, immediately people start to write negative things about them. We’ve given way too much voice to people slinging mud from behind a computer screen.

Negative opinions spread faster than positive ones, and in this culture of “discernment” (often that word is used as an excuse for having a critical spirit and it doesn’t reflect the biblical idea of discernment), it’s popular to criticize anybody who wants to influence people, to earn more money, or to sell books. We verbally put them in their place, at least in our minds.

So we believe that if we start to achieve some success, we’ll get criticized for it. And maybe that’s true, but does it really matter?

8 Examples of Limiting Beliefs of Leaders

1. I can’t afford it.

In other words, we have a scarcity mindset. Resources are limited and scarce. I’m going to run out, and this sort of scarcity mentality is a limiting belief.

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2. I don’t have time.

I’m just overwhelmed. If “I can’t afford it” is a scarcity of resources, then “I don’t have time” is a scarcity of time.

We’ll say things like, “I’m just so busy. I’m just so stressed out. I’m just so overwhelmed.” And we repeat those thoughts over and over and over, and it limits us because we really believe that we don’t have time for anything good in life. So we don’t ever try anything outside of our routine.

The greatest influencers in history – the greatest inventors, the greatest leaders in government and military, the greatest leaders in business, the captains of industry – have all had the exact same amount of time that you have.

We all get 168 hours in a week. You’ll work about 40 or 50 of them. You’ll sleep through 50 or 60 of them (hopefully). You rest, you spend time with family, and you get some leisure time in.

You can do huge things with that time. Or you can lock yourself into doing only small things because you’ll believe that time is more limited for you than for other people.

3. I can’t be myself because I’ll be rejected.

If I’m freely me, people won’t like me. So I’ll pretend to be someone else and avoid rejection.

But, you are you. God made you and then he broke the mold. There’s never been another person just like you. Don’t believe that being yourself is just a pathway to rejection. It’s actually a pathway to worship the One who created you.

4. I’ll never be truly loved.

People believe this because of past rejection. They believe it because of childhood, or because they came from a broken home, or someone abandoned or walked out on them when they were young.

They perhaps believe this because they’ve been through a couple of messy situations and relationships. And so we wind up believing that there’s nobody on earth that can truly love us. And that’s just not true.

God loves you. God has proven that, and he has sent other people in your life to love you.

5. It’s never my fault.

Whenever you meet someone who always has someone to blame for all of their problems, you’re meeting someone who will never overcome their problems.

If you believe that everything that’s ever wrong with your life is a result of what other people do to you, then there’s nothing you can do to change it. But when you start to look internally and take responsibility for your life, then you can begin to change things.

6. I can’t take risks because I’ll probably fail.

We sometimes go right up to the edge of a big dream and we hold back because we might fail. And the reality is, Yes!, you might fail.

If, instead of seeing failure as an end, you start to see failure as a step toward success, then you can take risks and you can grow and learn.

7. I shouldn’t want more influence.

One of the things I do is give away my sermon notes. I wish every pastor did this. I read the sermon notes of others all the time. It doesn’t mean you preach them as your own. It just means you learn from the preparation and delivery of others.

I have a Facebook ad that runs all the time and just gives away my notes to anybody that wants them, and I get a lot of interesting comments on that on that post. One guy left a comment on that Facebook post that said, “Well, aren’t you full of yourself?”

I know that he’s coming from a place of tremendously limited beliefs. He’s insecure. I don’t have to know much about him at all to know that he is speaking out of his insecurity.

When someone else puts themselves out there and we knock them down, that is almost always out of our insecurity. When we see someone hoping to extend their influence, we sometimes tend to think negatively about them. We’re usually okay with people that already have influence. We just have a problem with people trying to grow their influence.

And so a lot of us don’t seek to influence people more because we’ve been trained by other people to think negatively about leaders who desire more influence.

8. I shouldn’t want more affluence.

That is, I shouldn’t want more money. I shouldn’t want more resources.

We adopt the mentality that the most virtuous kind of life is one where we reject any kind of prosperity whatsoever. And we embrace poverty as a pathway to holiness. I think that’s bad theology. Just as financial prosperity may not be everyone’s calling, so poverty isn’t everyone’s calling either.

God has used affluent people in amazing ways throughout history. He’s used affluent people to protect God’s people, to fund the church, and to fund missions.

Affluence is not a bad thing. It’s all in how we use it. If you grew up believing that money is the root of all evil, and that wealth is bad, that is a limiting belief. Instead, you need to understand that wealth is neutral. Money is neutral. It’s not good or bad.

It’s the love of money – when we make money into a god and worship it and believe that money is everything – that’s a real problem. The problem is not in having money. So if you desire, more affluence to earn more money, that’s a good thing if your motives are good.

Those limiting beliefs are holding us back, and they’re killing our leadership.

They’re hindering the influence of good leadership on this earth. And these limiting beliefs have to be taken captive and destroyed.

The Battle Plan

What’s the battle plan? What do I do with limiting beliefs in my life? How do I root them out?

1. Take your thoughts captive.

Take an assessment of what you’re thinking. Look at your life and ask, “What do I believe that may be holding me back?”

Take those things captive and name them, confess them, bring them into the light, get them into the open, and draw those things out of your heart.

2. Repent (change your thinking).

Destroy those strongholds. Repent of those patterns. Place them before God in prayer and declare them dead.

3. Replace your limiting beliefs with truth.

You must replace false beliefs with truth.

Instead of saying, “I can’t afford it,” which is a scarcity mentality, say, “how could I afford this?” Or “should I afford this?”

Instead of saying, “I don’t have time and I’m overwhelmed,” I could say, “I’m overbooked. I’m really busy right now. But I can change that. I can do something about that.”

Instead of saying, “I shouldn’t want more influence,” replace that with, “God made me for influence. I have a message that the world needs to hear.”

4. Repeat, rehearse, and put truth into practice.

Good leadership is held back drastically by limiting beliefs.

God wants you to influence people according to how he wired you. He wants your message, your story, to get out to the rest of the world. He wants what you have to say about life to impact and influence others.

God is not interested in just keeping you back and keeping you beat down. He’s not interested in keeping you chained to mediocrity. God wants to set you free.

As a leader, what you pour into the lives of other people – the way you serve people, the way you help people – makes a difference, it’s okay to be passionate about it.

You don’t have to apologize for the message that you’re trying to get out. You don’t have to apologize for wanting to make a positive impact in your world. You don’t have to apologize for wanting to grow in generosity. You don’t have to apologize for wanting to grow in influence. You don’t have to apologize for wanting to expand the horizons of who you get to touch and influence and motivate for God’s purposes.

Whatever influence and whatever affluence God might give to you, you’re a steward of that. You’re always responsible to God for those things. You got to check your heart and your motives at all times along the way, absolutely. But you were made for this generation and this moment, to lead and to influence in some way.

So go chase it, and don’t apologize for it.

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