One of the buzz words in our culture today – especially in education – is “Growth Mindset”.  As with any idea that we latch onto we need to first consider how it lines up with God’s word.  My basic understanding of a ‘growth mindset’ is that when you have the belief that you have the ability to grow and change – you do grow and change!  As opposed to the ‘fixed mindset’ which says you are stuck as you are and therefore limited.

And I think that simplistic definition is what sets alarm bells going in the Christian parent’s mind.  Is this just the power of positive thinking? Is it drawing from a power within that is not God?

 

The Christian Response to Growth Mindset

At first glance it does appear to be a humanistic idea – that man has the ability, the power within, to change.  And as a Christian I can react to that. Obviously I want to give God the credit for the power to change. But we can over-spiritualise life too.  God has given humans that amazing ability to grow and change – science calls it neuroplasticity – the brain’s ability to change throughout life.

The Bible tells us that what is in our heart – what we believe – will shape everything that we do.

I know that when we start to believe things – we start to act certain ways.  This is the whole message of heart focus parenting. We teach our children beliefs and values that shape their choices and actions.

I do want my children to know that they can grow and change – in all areas of their life:

  • in our relationship with God as we fill our hearts with his love and Word
  • in our ability to do the right thing as we understand what is right and wrong
  • in our ability to express emotions as we accept ourselves
  • in our ability to give to other people as we accept others as loved by God
  • in our ability to learn as we see God’s purposes in knowledge
  • in our ability to care for our body, as we see that we are given a body for a purpose

The thing that I see missing in the growth mindset charts I read online and the conversations I have is that God created us with the ability to change and God has a plan and purpose for our growth. God is the source of our ability to grow and change – not ourselves.

So is it humanistic (man-centric) or is it Biblical (God-centric)?  I think it depends on what you believe! As a Christian parent I am going to teach my children from a God-centric position.  

[Tweet “A growth mindset is about aligning our self-talk with what God says.”]

What does this mean to a Christian Family?

“Changing” in and of itself is not a Christian thought.  All humans have the ability to grow and change. As a Christian parent though I see our lives deeper than just our presence here on earth.  I see our tasks as deeper than just being kind to my neighbour. I see my passions as deeper than just the things I’m interested in or good at.  God is at the very core of who I am because I have invited him to be Lord of my life. This means as I reflect on the things that I do and how I do them – God is my motivation.  

One of the activities that I often do in a workshop is give parents 6 blocks – spiritual, moral, emotional, social, intellectual, physical – and ask them to arrange these blocks in order of importance. How you do this will depend on your belief and value system.  For me, the spiritual block is the foundation – then there is the moral, and then on an equal plane are the rest (emotional, social, intellectual, physical). 

To teach a growth mindset from a biblical position we have to teach our children the following lessons:  

  1. God made them – and He loves them
  2. The Fall impacts us today – But God has a plan
  3. God has a purpose for them
  4. God is there to help them in their purpose
  5. Are you going to believe what God says, or what your feelings say?

As always – when we know our why – we are able to move further ahead.  To simply say “I can” is self driven – but to know why you can, or why you should – that gives a motivation deeper than selfish desire.

We can persist, overcome, learn, grow, change – because God has given us the ability to – and because we have a purpose to – to glorify God and to do what I am created for.  Without knowing what you are created for – we strive to be better because we want to please ourselves.

Seeing God as the reason and empowerment for change is addressing the ‘growth mindset’ issue from a God/spiritual perspective first.  Secondly we can address it from a moral perspective.

(Note:  Before we move onto the moral – let me just say – that the issues of growth and change that we are talking about are in the physical realm, not do with our holiness and salvation.  Though our belief in God changes our why which then changes our choices even in the physical realm of life.)

 

It’s Really the same as Character Training

We all have beliefs that we act upon – and the foundational belief that shapes how we face life is that God created all people and we are to love them, and secondly, God created us to care for the world and be productive in it. This is the premise for our moral beliefs and therefore moral growth.

When you look at the statements that create a growth mindset – what is really being taught is character.  

I can improve by working hard:  diligence
I am determined to do my best: determination
I can overcome challenges with effort: courage
I can train my brain: discipline
I will never give up: resilience
I can learn from my mistakes: forgiveness
I can problem solve: resourcefulness
I can learn: wisdom, humility
I can find a different way: flexibility
I can do my best: thoroughness

A growth mindset is about how we face life, how we deal with circumstances.  My definition of character is: the quality of our response to people or circumstances.  Are we going to give up, or are we going to push forward – this is the question for character growth, and this is the question for a growth mindset.  Same-same.

 

So are you Creating a Growth Mindset in Your Children?

In education circles the idea has been grabbed in both hands – we see it everywhere.  But in reality it is nothing new – it is creating a culture or atmosphere where children (or adults) believe that they don’t have to stay the same, that they can take responsibility for their own growth in any given sphere.  The only reason this has created a buzz is because of the science and understanding of what happens in the brain, and in the ensuing actions, when we believe that we can compared to when we believe that we can’t. It is something that parents have been teaching their children for generations.

But that doesn’t mean it isn’t helpful to have a quick review of the self-talk that happens in your family.  Some kids are more prone to it than others. Do your kids say:

  • I’ll never get this, or I’m not good at this
  • I’m hopeless
  • This is too hard
  • Don’t worry, I’ve changed my mind
  • This is good enough
  • I always muck it up, I made too many mistakes

These words are triggers to help you understand what your child is believing about themselves.  You can help them change this. Not by giving them a good pep talk declaring “Yes, you can do it, I believe in you!”  but by going back to the foundation of what the Bible says: God made you and He has a purpose for you, and He has given you the ability to make choices.  

A growth mindset is really about believing what God says about you.
A growth mindset is about aligning our self-talk with what God says.

As Christian parents this is definitely something we should be teaching our children.

5 starting points for a growth mindset from a Biblical worldview.

Do you need help in your Family?

Hi! I’m Belinda

About Me

Belinda and her husband, Peter, live in the far north-west of Australia on a small farm. They have four adult children whom they homeschooled from prep-year 12. Over this time Belinda has taught and supported women both face to face and online. Her heart is to encourage families to be intentional, relational and heart focused in all areas of family living. She continues to do this in her new season of life – as her kids leave home one by one leaving her with more time.

Certified Life Coach
https://youtu.be/-d6WRr9L1Pg
Quote: A growth mindset is about aligning our self-talk with what God says.

Over to you:

What does the idea of ‘growth mindset’ mean to you?  How have you dealt with this in your family?
(I’d love to hear your comments below).

 

8 Comments

  1. Jimmie Quick

    I like where you’re going with this, Belinda! I think growth mindset is perfectly paralleled in the Bible. It’s through grace we can grow and try again! We don’t have to be afraid to try hard things.

    Reply
    • Belinda

      That’s it! God’s grace is there to teach us, help us, encourage us to be all that God has made us be.

      Reply
  2. Amanda

    Thank you for writing this! I’ve struggled with the concept of growth mindset and how it seems to be rooted in humanistic doctrine. It’s a beautiful concept, but I was weary of putting too much emphasis on it with my children because in most contexts, it lacks any connection with God and His design of man. Your words have put my thoughts into a readable article and I thank you for that! I’d love to have a journal or printables of some kind for our family during homeschool hours. Do you have any recommendations for more God-centered growth mindset tools?

    Reply
    • Belinda

      Hey Amanda – I’m glad my article has helped you clarify a godly direction forward. Unfortunately I don’t have any resources to recommend to you. I wonder if you saw resources that you previously dismiss that with a new mindset you might find them helpful or at least able to adapt them.

      Reply
  3. Karen

    I am so glad I found this post. I have been contemplating growth mindset as a Christian as well. I love the idea of the “yet”, which Carol Dweck talks about in her books and TED Talks (I haven’t read her books. . .yet. haha!!). I have learning different children in my homeschool and we’re constantly talking about the “not yet” and the “yet”. But I always saw that as sanctification. God sanctifies us in many ways. Some days we arrive at the yet and the thing He needed us to learn becomes part of who we are as His children. Other days, it’s just another step in that direction. We don’t fully reach the “yet” until the other side of heaven when we stand before Him complete. I love the idea of character development too. I have always struggled with character development as a mom. I have a background with legalism in it and character development felt like legalism to me. This idea changed the whole focus for me. Thank you again for this post. I have been doing some personal study on productivity and have found teachers that encourage you to have a God-centered focus on productivity. I think this is no different. All of our worldviews should be God-centered and I think you hit the nail on the head with the growth mindset.

    Reply
    • Belinda

      I’m glad this was helpful. The way I see it is God has made us holy and now we are to walk and mature in that with God’s grace. We are to become more like Christ – and He sends his grace/Holy Spirit to help us do that. I hope you’ll dig into some of the Character posts I have here (use the search bar and search on ‘character’) as this has been a significant training tool in our family. Legalism is a big thing though to be aware of for sure. To me, being conscious of the definitions of various character based responses (aka truthfulness, obedience, self-control, enthusiasm, courage, etc) and what those responses looked like in our every day life, gave me something solid to help my children choose wisely as they go through life. Character development (and growth mindset comes under that category) is about our moral choices – our faith may (hopefully) shape our morality – but we still have to choose to walk it. As we do, as we make character based choices, we grow in character. I hope this helps you see the difference between character and salvation, and legalism and personal growth. I hope you’ll stick around and dig into these things some more.

      Reply
  4. Tony Bathich

    Hi,

    I believe Growth Mindset is so important, we as the children of God, God lives in us, we are NEW CREATURES with so much to learn through the Holy Spirit, growth mindset is about understanding our new creation, God’s role vs Our role. I believe Growth Mindset is needed is this specific area.

    i think it’s time for the church to produce this kind of God-centric and biblical content.

    I have this passion in me and the zeal to talk about growth-mindset from Bible perspective, and i believe that it supersedes the humanistic approach (not mentioning that it all originates in God’s Word from the beginning :))

    Reply
  5. Roomi khan

    Sallam, thank you so much for your work on growth mindset and religion, I was searching it for few days bcz I was confuse about the concept of growth mindset with respect to religion, although I’m a MUSLIM alhamdulillah , but still your idea is fully matching with ISLAM. Keep working on it and share your ideas more. Soon , I will also share my experinces about growth mindset with respect to religion, take care, have a blessed time.

    Reply

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