Updated: Apr 10
Belief – Why Your Worldview Creates Stress
There comes a time in every person’s life where they begin questioning their beliefs. As a child, beliefs are written by parents, coaches, teachers, friends, books, tv shows, etc. As we grow, usually sometime in the pre-teen or teenage years, we begin questioning those beliefs. Anyone with teenagers knows what I am talking about. It may not feel like it at the time, but it is a good thing. It’s how God designed us.
A remarkable aspect of our worldview is that unless we take the time to evaluate it, we rarely recognize or appreciate its impact on our decision-making.
When my daughter, Rachel, was a teenager, she came to us and said, “I don’t know if I believe in God.” I imagine she expected us to freak out since we had taught her about God from childhood, but we didn’t. We took her questioning seriously and gave her room to question for herself. We understood that if she didn't have the tools and relationships needed to re-examine her beliefs wisely, she would end up with an erroneous worldview.
So, we engaged her in the conversation by asking her questions and really listening to her. We were interested in how she was processing and by whom or what she was being impacted. In doing this, she felt the freedom to explore, and it gave her room to come to the conclusion that there was a God and He was the God we had introduced her to as a child. As she grew, she had to begin owning her own worldview, not just taking our word for it.
As adults, every one of us has to take responsibility for our own beliefs and our worldview. It is an ongoing process to intentionally examine our beliefs and assumptions, expose lies and replace them with truth.
We train Transformed Living coaches to help people examine the beliefs that impact their behavior. We are not just interested in behavior change, but belief change. That is what will create lasting change. Even if you are not a trained coach, you can have a tremendous impact with a well-timed, open-ended question that causes someone to feel heard and gives them room to process for themselves.
While the beginnings of our worldview were formed at an early age, the sources that impacted its formation may or may not have been reliable. As an adult it is incumbent on us to re-examine what we believe. In 1 John 4:5-6 we read about the importance of worldviews when he declares, “They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.”
Our Worldview holds both conscious and
subconscious beliefs and assumptions.
Our worldview is formed by what people have told us about God and ourselves, what we have seen and experienced, how we have interpreted life, what we have said about ourselves, etc., or what has not been taught or shown to us. Our Worldview holds both conscious and subconscious beliefs and assumptions. As outlined in the previous blog, beliefs are ideas or thoughts that you are convinced are real or true, while assumptions are things taken for granted; taking as definite something that is not actually settled or determined. The point? Beliefs and assumptions need to be examined.
Examining our beliefs and worldview are so important for transformation. But how do we honor this process? When I began to understand how my beliefs impacted my behaviors, I realized I needed an effective way to identify my core beliefs. It needed to be simple and yet accurate in its ability to help me self-diagnose what belief was driving my behavior. Identifying not what I thought I was believing or what I wanted to believe, but what I was actually believing.
It was then that the Lord reminded me of a profoundly helpful workshop I attended on the importance of living out a Biblical worldview. The presenter shared with us a chart similar to the one I want to supply you. I have revised the chart to provide you with how the Holy Spirit unpacked it for me, but I am grateful for how God used the presenter and his material to aid me in my journey. Hopefully, it will help you as well.
How It All Works
Looking at the chart we can see that it all begins with our WORLDVIEW (first circle). The thoughts we think or circumstances we encounter filter through our world view and then we form our VALUES (second circle). Our values become a strong filter for us. A simple definition of our values is “What is important to you.”
Once we filter a thought, circumstance, temptation, etc. through our values we have an EMOTIONAL RESPONSE (third circle) based on our belief and values. Emotions are morally neutral, but they are typically the launching point for our behaviors. For example, when we sin or violate our conscience, we may have an involuntary response of guilt or when someone sins against us we have an involuntary response called anger. These emotions are morally neutral, but we often act on these emotions which may or may not be morally neutral.
In other words, based on these emotions, we make a CHOICE (fourth circle) about how to respond. This is the valley of decision. We either choose to act congruent with our values, what we believe is right, or we choose to act incongruous, and do what we believe is wrong. That choice leads us to our BEHAVIOR (fifth circle). If our behavior is congruous with our values and belief (worldview) we generally feel good and have peace of mind about your behavior. But, if it is Incongruous, you will feel guilt, shame or doubt your decision…you may even feel anxious or out-of-rest.
An example of how this might play out is as follows. You are betrayed by your close friend at church. They were offended by something and spread lies about you to others. Your belief or worldview is that there is a God and His Word tells us how to behave as His followers. You value the teachings of the Bible like love one another and forgiveness. Your emotional response to the situation is hurt, anger and offense. At this point you make a choice. If you choose to nurse the offense, replay it in your mind and fan the anger, you will likely then behave by ignoring them, saying mean things back or lashing out. This will likely lead to stress, guilt and shame because your behavior was inconsistent with your worldview, beliefs and values. If however, you choose to forgive them and love them, your behaviors will likely be kindness towards them and maybe even invite them to talk. This behavior would lead to peace and maybe even joy because you are behaving in a way that reflects your worldview and values.
A really important part of the examination process is recognizing the level of stress caused by your behaviors. Stress reveals inconsistencies between our beliefs and our behaviors. Over the long haul, our behavior will line up with our beliefs. The stress in our lives from our behaviors often reflects the effort we are exerting to act like we believe it.
If, however, your behavior violates what you say are your values, and it does NOT cause stress, you have to question what you REALLY believe. For instance, I John 4:20-21 tells us that “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother.”
If I am a follower of Jesus, and I hate my brother or sister, and DO NOT feel guilt or shame, the question is… do I believe this command or NOT?? I am weak and may be struggling, but if I settle into my sin with no guilt or shame, no resistance, no willingness to seek repentance, then can I really say I believe Him? The guilt and shame are the indicators that tell me that I am NOT acting congruously with what I say I believe. The fierceness of the battle is a good indicator of my deeply held beliefs. The “negative” emotions such as stress, guilt can be a good thing. They expose the disconnect so we can do something about it.
With our worldview playing such a vital role in our life, I encourage you to explore how your worldview came into existence and what, if anything, you need to reconsider. Your path to discovery is just the thing that might help others do the same.