When Negative Thinking Stands in the Way of Following God’s Call

When Negative Thinking Stands in the Way of Following God’s Call

July 18, 2017

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:2 (NLT)

Devotion Graphic

Several years ago, I went to a summer camp for girls with my daughter Kaitlyn. One of the group activities Kaitlyn looked forward to was the high ropes and zip-line course. Her enthusiasm was so contagious … I even put my name on the list to participate.

The time came to put on our safety gear and listen to the guide for basic instructions. As we patiently waited in line, Kaitlyn became more and more excited, but I grew more and more nervous.

As I watched each girl clip her carabiner to the rope, climb her way up the towering tree to the first platform landing and carefully walk the tight ropes from tree to tree, my heart began to race, and my inner voice of doubt began working overtime: What was I thinking when I agreed to this craziness? Why would anyone want to climb all the way up there anyway? What if I get up there and I’m too scared to get back down? What if my rope breaks loose, and I fall to my death? Mercy.

The more I doubted my abilities, the more my confidence sunk. As I allowed negative thoughts (even some irrational ones) to fill my mind, the likelihood of actually going through with this activity greatly diminished. The longer I let other people go ahead of me in line, intentionally trying to postpone my certain, impending doom, the more I convinced myself I couldn’t accomplish this task, and I didn’t really want to anyway.

Unfortunately, my turn finally came, and I began slowly and hesitantly making my way up the tree — with zero percent confidence and 100 percent doubt. No more than 30 seconds had passed when I caved to my fears. I immediately climbed right back down the tree, took off my safety gear and surrendered defeat. I went right back to my comfort zone where it seemed safer.

I peered into the tops of the trees, watching Kaitlyn move safely from one high platform to the next.

She was enjoying a view and a sense of accomplishment I would now never experience. I regretted letting negative thoughts sidetrack my confidence and ability to push past pessimistic doubts. When she zoomed down the zip-line and landed gently in the cool lake water below, I was suddenly aware of how much negative thinking can sidetrack the best of intentions.

Missing out on this activity wasn’t really a big deal in the big scheme of life. But I couldn’t help but wonder how many big things I’d missed in the past because of negative thinking — like pursuing God’s call on my life.

I thought back to times when I knew God called me to share my testimony, but I’d allowed fears of judgment or shame to silence me.

I considered the years I wasted not writing and speaking for His kingdom, my negative thoughts convincing me I wasn’t worthy or qualified to do either.

I recalled a time God had nudged me to serve in a certain ministry capacity at church, but I’d let negative thinking sink my confidence and faith.

When we allow negative thinking to take up residence in our minds, our thoughts will become an obstacle to our obedience. Pessimistic thinking — whether about our life, our self-worth or our abilities — will always stand in the way of following God’s call.

Romans 12:2 assures us when we invite God to transform our minds and change how we think, He’ll do exactly that: “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

Negative thinking can keep us from pursuing God’s call to be a leader in His kingdom. But the good news is, we don’t have to let them. Intentionally choosing to put aside negative thoughts about ourselves or assignments God gives us empowers us to stand strong when the enemy tries to thwart our efforts.

When our thoughts are positive, our hearts will be too, and obedience will flow more naturally.

Lord, forgive me for letting fears and doubts get in the way of my obedience. Give me the strength and desire to step out in faith and trust that I am equipped and capable in Your strength. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


Matthew 8:26, “Jesus responded, ‘Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!’ Then he got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm.” (NLT)


Do you want to write words that move people? Our monthly membership program, COMPEL Training, has a team that’s passionate about equipping writers and aspiring authors with the tools they need to make their God-given callings possible. Membership registration is now open — but only for a limited time! Learn more here.


Did you know you can follow COMPEL Training on Twitter? Catch us here!

Visit Tracie Miles’ blog to enter to win a copy of her book, Unsinkable Faith, which will encourage you to pursue the call on your heart and allow God to use your past for a purpose by retraining your brain to think positively.

How has God been calling you to step out in faith, but you’ve been hesitant to obey due to fear or insecurity?

What is one thing you can do today to take a baby step toward what you feel God has laid on your heart?

© 2017 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

Categories: ,
Would you like your picture to show up next to your comment? Click here for instructions.

Visit Gravatar.com and create a free account with the email address you use to leave comments on blogs and other websites. Upload the picture you want associated with that email address and you're all set!


  1. I believe God is calling me to preach his word. I believe i can read the word more and diligently spend more time with God in prayer

  2. Adebisi sadiq says:

    For a long time, I have allowed negative thoughts rob me of so many opportunities where the Lord would have wanted me to serve . For a while, I’ve had the urge to speak and relate with teens in my church. I know the Lord would want me to do that.

  3. Jennifer says:

    Thank you thank you!! You have totally describe me!! But with God seeking Him first casting down those negative thoughts I can do what He has called me to do!!

  4. Thank you!

  5. I needed to hear this! Again God is nudging me along. Thank you.

  6. Wow! This devotion really spoke to me today! God has been transforming my thinking about joining my husband on a ministry trip to India, a place I never felt a desire to go to. God has been changing my mind, and I’m looking into joining my husband, but doubts can creep in, like those fearful negative thoughts Traci described. This is a great reminder to toss out those negative thoughts and keep my focus on how God is leading me so that His will can be carried out in my life. I don’t want to miss out on what He wants to accomplish.

    • Hi Lisa, I’m writing from Auastralia. Many years ago our Church formed a Misssinary Awareness team to go to India. I strongly urged my husband to go because I knew it would be life changing for him. I chose not to go because I knew I wouldn’t eat any of the food. God convicted me of two things. First if I wanted to grow with my husband I had to go to experience what he would rather than him coming home to tell me about it. With the food – people in India survive on minimal food (not spoilt by choice as us westerners are) so if it meant that I hardly ate, then God would sustain me. So trusting God with this I went. To this day, it was the most challenging experience of my journey with God, but the best in my journey so far. I had to dig deep and trust God all they way, no matter what confronted me. I was truely blessed to see God work His power, even in India. You won’t regret going. Just be willing, obedient and trusting. You will understand the light and dark told in the Bible. Indian Christians shine so brightly in a dark world. By the way, with the food, I did survive on just rice and naan bread (I also packed a few things to get me through as well). God Bless you and your husband Lisa. (My husband and I even headed a group of secondary students back to India a few years later). gail.

  7. I’ve learned that the enemy uses two tactics to steer me off God’s course: the one you described so well, Tracie, that says “I just can’t.” But Satan also whispers an opposite tune and sets me up for failure: “You can do this big time, and you don’t need anybody or anything to tell you how.”

    Yes, sometimes we can soar from the treetops the first time, in the power of the Spirit. But more often, God calls me to use my training wheels: not lead the group, but serve the leader and make his/her job easier; not speak before an audience, but pray then and there with my hurting coworker; not a whole book just yet, but to write a short devotion as our Christmas card (“If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones” – Luke 16:10).

    • Thank you Shirlee for your example of training wheels! This is so true on so many levels and the vital aspect of having a servant’s heart. I am so grateful for His word and how He places scripture in our pathway. What an excellent devotion for today!

    • Deborah says:

      Very well said Shirlee! I am a servant period!! I love supporting those that God has called to do the big things in front of big crowds. Those that He has called to serve out front deserve to have a heartfelt obedient and consistent servant assisting them in the things of God. I love my role and God always sends new opportunities for me to stay in my lane:) Truly I desire to be in that good, acceptable and perfect will of God, Amen!

    • Roxanne says:

      Thank you so much for today’s teaching .. I wanna stay right in the middle of Gods will for my life. I pray and ask for prayer that I would follow his lead in Jesus name

    • Thank you Shirlee. I always look forward to your responses.

    • Nancy T. says:

      I love this Shirlee! What a great realization ~ God just asking us to use our training wheels. I usually think I have to commit to all or nothing and end up committing not at all. From now on, I will put on my training wheels and commit to where God is asking me to go. God Bless you for this insight.

  8. Wow, I have a meeting today regarding a new ministry I’ve been asked to lead. Negative thoughts keep me from fully getting off the ground so this is just what I needed this morning. God is nudging me along! Prayers he will lead me where I need to go. Thank you so much.

  9. Thanks for this encouragement today. Some times I allow negative thoughts to invade my mind and it doesn’t help my spirits. This was a great read. Thanks for all the inspiring stories. I enjoy reading these.

  10. Oh how so many of us struggle and back down or out. Down and out, just where Satan wants us. May we recognize when those negative thoughts are from the enemy. That is who we battle and he is always on the prowl. May we be firmly secure, and all in, in our victory with Jesus

  11. I am struggling with this, as I worry about my oldest daughter and family that are looking to relocate and explore new opportunities. My upbringing instilled negativity in me, but I’m trying to get past it and look at this situation as a giant step of faith for them. They are teaching me to not limit God and what he’s able to do, by having such faith, facing the unknown, and following God’s leading.

    • Kim Beasley says:

      Bonnie – I’m so proud of you for opening your heart to change and letting your love for your oldest daughter and her family lead you instead of letting your upbringing/childhood negativity and your own personal fears be in control!! THAT is faith, and you have it. Push forward in that direction and I feel strongly that God has some amazing adventures and blessings ahead for you and your family!!! I’ll pray for you!

  12. Gillian James says:

    I have recently changed my email address. It is now gillianjames@bellaliant.net Thank you.

  13. Kelly Daughdrill says:

    That’s SO me!
    Thanks for sharing!

  14. Kathryn says:

    Thank you for this today.. came at the right time. I have debated on obtaining some certificates to enhance my career..but being a wife and mother of two little ones I began my ability to handle it all. I let doubt and uncertainty creep in and thwart my plans of what I wanted to do. So this devotional came at the right time. Thank you!

  15. Wow! I’ve been leading a small group of teens through the study of Joyce Meyers’, “Battlefield of the Mind for Teens.” It has really helped and blessed me to be able to work with the youth at my church. If I had listened to all the negative thoughts that Satan tried to use to prevent me from stepping out, this group of kids might not be aware of how powerful negative thoughts can be and how they thwart the best God has for each of them. We need to equip our young people with the word of God! Negative thinking can really keep you from experiencing God’s best for yourself and from blessing others! My 14 year old daughter is in an on going battle with negative thoughts. It’s so hard to watch her isolate herself and talk so poorly of herself. She has a wonderful Christian counselor, who I thank God for. I have to remind myself almost minute by minute that God is in control, that He will use this for His good, that He does and is working out His good plans to give her a hope and a future! Standing on God’s Word!! I feel someone else is being called to work with teens and needs to hear… , “God wants you to take a step and go. He is calling you to lead them & guide them!!” Don’t let the enemy win!!

    • Kim Beasley says:

      Hi Kim! I’m Kim, too!! πŸ™‚ I’ve known for awhile that I have been “fixated” and concerned with the self-esteem of our young girls! My daughter just turned 18 and, thank God, has a strong sense of self. But, I have spent a lot of time the past 4-5 years building up her girlfriens (and her), letting them know they are Princesess’s of the Lord of Lords and they are worthy, loved, and beautiful; that each one of them has something special to offer and to not let anyone or anything make them think otherwise. I still have this “feeling”, that somehow I want to continue to contribute this message to our young girls. Thank you for the encouragement. I will be looking into working with our youth group and maybe even hosting a small group study like you are doing!! This devotion and all the comments has made me bolder!!! Thanks. have a great day!!

  16. Wow, it’s like we lead parallel lives. Have been in this same sort of situation more times than I can count and fear (there it is again) that my fear will eventually rub off on my children. I’m better than I used to be, but it’s a daily effort. Good to know I’m not alone!

    • I felt the same way. Thought fear was the way of life,glad to know I’m not alone. Fear will stand in the way of moving ahead,the enemy likes that but we will trust in the good Lord to use us for His glory. Prayers for you and your family and please keep my family in your prayers. Thank you.

  17. I keep hearing Him say to step out of the boat, walk on water. The boat is so comfortable but I know that I know He wants me to trust in Him for what’s next. I believe trusting Him in the next step will open up other steps that i thought that i couldn’t do. Through His preparation of my heart, I will be able to do it. Thank you for the article giving courage and boldness.

  18. WOW….how todays devotion touched my heart and thinking. I have such fear of stepping out and doing what I would like to do for me. The way family would feel if I did made the step and moved to start a new life. So much I would like to say about the way I feel and want and how I need to look to God for my guidance and support. This devotion came at the right time. Thank you

  19. I am currently praying about where God wants me to serve. I have been leading a ladies Bible study but I am just not sure that is where God wants me, or is it the negative thoughts?? Am I truly willing to say “God, use me”?

  20. Today’s devotion was very much needed. I started my day with very negative thoughts and allowed them to overcome me. This left me feeling angry and alone. I pray that God takes away my fears and anger and replaces it with his love.

  21. Elizabeth says:

    Thank you very much for awesome devotion. It’s talking about me.

  22. I have felt God calling me to speak to ladies’ groups, but then wonder if that is just my desires or what God has truly put in my heart to do. I know if it is not His plan it will not succeed. I want to be obedient to His calling whatever that may be.

  23. I needed this devotional today! I’ve been struggling with depression the last few months, and I know God is my provider! But in the midst of the pain, all of the negative thoughts keep me from relying on God’s peace. I’m praying for His strength to consume me in those moments!

  24. Thank you so much for this devotion. I have put off writing and blogging for a year now because of fear. Today, I will begin taking steps to obey and watch for the ways God wants to use the gifts He has given me.

  25. Pray. I need to pray. I worry way too much about everything. Its not a good feeling. I hate it. My body hurts and my mind goes crazy when I start thinking about bills and responsibilities. My husband is not working right now and I’m a little stress about trying to keep the family financial supported. But I’m praying that God will bless us and things will work out. Keep me in prayer.

  26. Gabriela says:

    I really needed this, spent all night being sad because my aunt is sick and cannot get surgery because she’s too weak, grandfather is sick, and even though my partner forgave me and I forgave him for past mistakes, I have such trust issues and have negative thoughts so easily about what he may be doing etc. He has been so patient with me and I really don’t want to push him away or continue having these negative thoughts

  27. My limitations in serving are coming from fear of my husband’s anger when I participate in anything other than him. I have recognized that satan is using him against me, but it steals my joy and holds me back more often than not. I love this Word and I’m praying for God to cover me before, during and after I obey Him and step out to serve wherever He calls me.
    Thank you for this post!

  28. Elizabeth says:

    Thank you! God knew I needed this today. I awoke with fear and doubt about my new job, even though I know this is where God led me. It isn’t going the way I thought it would and I was becoming paralyzed in my doubt and fear. Thank you for allowing Gods words to come through you today!!

  29. I think I’m called to write exhortations to the body of Christ. Writing has always been a passion of mine, I have been keeping journals for a couple of years now, but for the past year I’m feeling the urge to write and publish for everyone to read. I know I have to push certain things aside to make room for writing. Thank you for this devotional!

  30. Stephanie says:

    Thank you! I needed this.

  31. Last week I just had same experience , I couldn’t do the zip line with my group at youth camp,😩😩😩but today since my first reading God is showing me that the answer for prayer is now my present and I’m afraid for this big responsibility. Reading your experience I Know Gods is calling me to a new ministry Mentoring , I had been praying for this and now as a Gedeon I’m feeling weak but excited to do it . Thanks God for your Ministry , reading you , have been a blessing for my life . πŸ™πŸ™πŸ€—

  32. Drenda Davis says:

    Obviously, it’s not coincidence that “The Voice of Truth” by Casting Crowns came on my playlist just as I was reading this. Thank you God!

  33. Sabrina McElwee says:

    This devotional has really challenged me today….not only to do more work on my mind, which is truly a battlefield, but not to be afraid to put out there more of what I feel God is speaking to my heart. Whether writing in my journal, posting on IG, Twitter, Facebook or leaving a comment here, what God has to say through me might just be what someone else has been needing to hear.

  34. God has asked me to fast for two weeks once a month for intercession for people who need prayer. I have felt hesitant to take this step next month because of hunger for food rather than for God’s word.
    I will take a baby step toward this by looking to God’s word and doing my devotionals when I feel like I am hungry for food rather then seeking his face.

  35. I am only a sophomore, and still unsure of what Gods will is for my future, but I want to trust fully in Him and learn to be vulnerable to His love and his Presence. I believe God has called me to lead others in worship, and to go and be a witness at my church and school. I’m so excited for what God has in store this school year!

  36. Janice Alston says:

    Love this message. I also have suffered from letting my fear get to me sometimes. I have learn so much through trials in my life sometimes I just didn’t have a lot of Faith and I to suffered from letting my fear get in the way of my blessing. Now, I an human and do sometimes have to push a little harder to know God’s will. I have learned to be more positive, and push negativity to not block God’s blessings for me. I am truely blessed. Thanks!!

  37. Merle Nursten says:

    I have a massive fear around money and a very unhealthy relationship with it. I know why and I also know how wrong it is because all I have beings to God anyway. I don’t have a lot and manage to save a little every month but I get obsessed when I need to spend some of my savings. Its a fear so great and irrational and God and the Holy Spirit have been dealing with me and thanks to these messages of faith, I’m slowly letting go and stepping out! Trusting!! That’s really what it boils down to, trust. Thank you Father God for helping me take that step yesterday. I love You! Xx

  38. Felicia says:

    Thank you.

  39. Anxious negative thoughts have Just become a,way of life lately. Really need prayers for me and my children that I’m an overcomer and brave. Physical illness has zapped my confidence and made me think I’m mentally and physically weak.

  40. I’ve been struggling with fear and anxiety for a long time, I’ve been doing really well not letting the enemy attack me. I had a moment yesterday with my husband where I did not like him talking to other females due to emotional cheating. That is not of the Lord and I know God and husband won’t ever hurt me. I was feeling a bit insecure and being 32 weeks pregnant did not help. I am close to the Lord and recognize when he speaks to me. I have been reading devotionals everyday, some that I document and some that I don’t. Reading the word is what keeps me secure and seeking God’s relationship everyday is what keeps me unfearful. Please just pray for my family and myself. I want to be more on a spiritual track with everything rather than the flesh.

    • Patricia Horne says:

      Rachel, I have been struggling with depression and anxiety perhaps a good deal of my entire life. I was raised in a Christian home but have forgotten who I am the last couple of years. I have been feeling a spiritual warfare for the last two. Spiritual warfare is real and it has been painful for me. But the good news is it has made me pray harder and has made me realize how much I love God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. I have been praying hard as of late and trying to let the holy spirit take over by surrendering all worries and anxieties. But the enemy puts doubt in my mind and some of the most irrational worry comes out of it. I begin to think of all the wrongs and sin I have committed in my life. Sins repented for long ago. That is what the enemy does. I am not even sure how I ended up with this devotional in my email, but I thank God for it. Sometimes when I awake during the night, I check my phone and the devotionals are in my inbox. Always at the right time. I wish you well and pray for you and the others who have responded on here. I am not sure if others are experiencing what I am going thru. I have been reading each and every one this early Monday morning. May we all discover what God wants each of us to do to serve and live as an example of Christian Life. So many have turned away, I have discovered on my social media. That saddens me and am no longer on social media at the moment. God Bless and thanks for listening. It felt so theraputic to express these feelings and put them into words.

  41. I am starting to wonder how long will I keep letting negative thinking and fear rule my decisions in life. Just like you I pick the safe route and now I feel like life is starting to pass me by.

  42. This has been my scenario for the past 6 months. Is hard not to be hard on me. Thanks for the encouragement, it has been a blessing.

  43. Thank you for your story,it was inspirational to me,fear gets in my way of doing things but God has used you to help me know I’m never alone. Thank you. Keep me and my family in your prayers please.

  44. Thanks for finally writing about >When Negative Thinking Stands in the Way of Following Gods Call β€” Proverbs 31 Ministries Devotions
    <Liked it!

  45. Trisha Kemp says:

    I feel certain God is asking me to faithfully apply for a Director position at work which has filled me with fear. A large responsibility that comes with great opportunity to leave a legacy in a world that needs Christ. I’ve been positioned for the job, yet I hoped the position would not come available before I retired so that I would not have to walk through that door, however, it miracously opened in a way that could have only been God. I’m amazed that He answers me every time I ask, are you sure Jesus, you really want me do this? He showers me with love and encouragement, he positions people to encourage me, and His truth confirms His plan. Seeds of doubt in my ability cripple me and when I sit with Him He gently reminds me I have been given authority over my thoughts. I am certainly being intentional in this season about overcoming the stronghold of wrong thinking and praying diligently for His help. Its a scary season and I want to rest in the peace of His presence. Thank you for this inspiring message of hope that overcoming negative thoughts about myself is possible.

  46. What about when you keep asking God what your calling is and you get no answer? When you’ve stepped out in faith and reaped only failure and wasted time and money? When you’re going to be mid life soon and you still don’t know what you’re supposed to be doing with your life? When Romans 12:2 , and books and articles like this,is getting SO OLD and cliche sounding? When ‘Pray about it” is just as tiring? What then?

Would you like your picture to show up next to your comment? Click here for instructions.

Visit Gravatar.com and create a free account with the email address you use to leave comments on blogs and other websites. Upload the picture you want associated with that email address and you're all set!

Share Your Heart


Notify via Email Only if someone replies to My Comment

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!