“… but afterwards he changed his mind…”

(Matthew 21:30).

             One of the more popular and effective interventions in the field of mental-health counseling these days is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).  Simply stated, if you can change your thoughts, then you can change your behavior.

             One of my internship placements a few years ago involved counseling adolescents at a summer camp for wards of the state.  One teen, Benjamin, was a good kid—friendly, helpful, even cheerful.  Yet just below the surface, there seemed to be a slow-burning anger.  It erupted unexpectedly one day.  After striking out on the baseball field, Ben had an emotional meltdown. 

I pulled him aside to give him time to cool off.  “What’s going on, Ben?” I asked him.  It took him a while to open up, but it turned out that after the strikeout, he’d overheard one of the guys on his team complain loudly, “I should have known.  It never changes.  He always makes the last out.”  I figured there was more to the story because these kids usually had pretty thick skin after all the teasing at camp.  In time it came out: “The last thing my father said before he sent me here was, ‘You’ll never change.’”

Ben and I had a talk later that afternoon about all the ways he’d changed for the better just in the short time I knew him.  And I also pointed out his good traits that I hoped would never change—his kindness, his helpfulness, his very good heart.  The rest of the summer was good for Ben.

Is there someone in your life who needs to hear some positive reinforcement about themselves?  Could you help someone change their self-concept by pointing out what is good about them and what you like about them?  You just might win them over to Christ.  Remember, if you can change the thought, you can change the behavior.