I have lived in New York City for over six decades and have observed many kinds of people: those with a victim mentality and those with a victor mentality. In this article, I will examine some traits that are distinct to each group.
Those with the victim mindset interpret the world in a completely different way than those with the victor mindset. People with a victim mindset view an obstacle as an unfair challenge, while the latter view obstacles as an opportunity to overcome. It is obvious to most that in American politics, candidates often attempt to appeal to these groups. To those with a victim mindset, they pledge to intervene in their challenges. To those with a victor's mindset, they promise to provide opportunities with limited government intervention.
How you identify yourself internally (as either a victim or victor) should have nothing to do with your skin color or the community in which you were raised. Many will argue that personality, temperament, psychological upbringing, emotional abuse and so on can often contribute to having a victim mentality. However, many point to highly accomplished leaders, such as Booker T. Washington, George Washington Carver, Martin Luther King Jr., Jesse Owens, Jackie Robinson, Walter Williams and Thomas Sowell as examples of those who overcame enormous challenges such as racism and poverty. On the other hand, I have witnessed many who, despite being brought up in affluence, felt prey to a victim mentality, became self-loathing, defeatist and ended up a failure.
I'll use my background to further illustrate this point. I was brought up in a small apartment in a lower middle-class white neighborhood. When my friends discovered I was part Hispanic, they started making fun of me. However, instead of hiding in a corner, I aggressively returned the favor, making fun of them and putting them in their place. They never touched the subject again. Why did I respond this way? Because I had within me an intrinsic sense of self-worth that transcended any insults that others threw at me.
As Christians, we are called to walk with an internal understanding that we are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:37).
Believers must never entertain a victim mindset. The world is full of people captivated by this mindset, which has resulted in millions of people becoming enslaved, and unable to fulfill their God-given potential.
One of the most important things that my wife, Joyce, and I have instilled in each of our five biological children is that they are victors, not victims! We taught them that everybody will have life challenges, but this is no excuse to cower in a corner and feel sorry for yourself. We also taught our children that as they got older, nobody else could truly help them if they didn't help themselves.
We taught our children to be the head and not the tail, to be above and not beneath, to use their creativity to become entrepreneurial and leaders, and not followers of groupthink (Deut. 28:10-13).
Millions are caught up in a victim mentality because they are ignorantly following the groupthink of their peers, the media, their political party and their culture. Many believers in Christ have been caught up in the world's mind games that pit one group against the other: the "haves" against the "have not's".
For example, the Marxists, far-left liberals and socialists (as presently embodied in many politicians, community leaders and media personalities), play on the victim spirit. They engage in class warfare and make a living by painting whole groups of people as victims in order to get elected. They want to be seen as those who parachute to the rescue of those with a victim mindset. They disempower specific segments of the population with their rhetoric in order to be seen as the heroes, ensuring that they remain in the spotlight. Consequently, if the victim mindset were not prevalent, thousands of politicians and activists would be out of a job!
This is not to say that I believe there is no racism, injustice, economic or political disparities, but, despite these factors, we need to focus on teaching people that they can be empowered to excel in any environment with God's help.
The following contrasts are meant to help you understand which camp you are in. If you are in the victim mindset camp, God wants to change your paradigm and transition you to the victorious mindset.
—Contrasting the victim and victorious mindset (for the sake of time, I will not use the word "mindset"):
—The victim believes the whole world is against them. The victor believes the whole world needs them.
—The victim sees a challenge as an obstacle. The victor considers the obstacle to be an opportunity.
—The victim blames others for their failure. The victor takes personal responsibility for success or failure.
—The victim depends on handouts from others to succeed. The victor makes do with what they already have to succeed.
—The victim is never satisfied and is always looking for something more. The victor is grateful for what they already have and build upon that to succeed in life.
—The victim feels like everybody owes them something. The victor believes nobody owes them anything.
—The victim lives off other people. The victor lives to bless other people.
—The victim will end his days bitterly. The victor will end his days satisfied.
—The victim only sees closed doors. The victor only sees open doors.
—The victim spreads a negative attitude to others. The victor spreads a positive attitude.
—The victim is pessimistic. The victor is optimistic.
—The victim gives up quickly if they fail. The victor doesn't quit until they succeed.
—The victim has few real friends. The victor empowers and makes many friends.
—The victim repels people. The victor attracts people.
—The victim is always fighting for "their rights." The victor lives to champion the rights of others.
—The victim has a critical spirit and is judgmental of others. The victor blesses others.
—The victim imagines people are against him. The victor envisions the people that are for him.
—The victim plays on the emotions of others. The victor releases the passion of others.
—The victim uses people for what they can get from them. The victor is a catalyst who maximizes the potential of others.
—The victim has faith in evil to make things worse. The victor has faith in God to make things better.
Dr. Joseph Mattera is an internationally known author, interpreter of culture and activist/theologian whose mission is to influence leaders who influence nations. He is renowned for addressing current events through the lense of Scripture by applying biblical truths and offering cogent defenses to today's postmodern culture. He leads several organizations, including The United Coalition of Apostolic Leaders (uscal.us). He also has a blog on Charisma News called "The Pulse." To order one of his books or to subscribe to his weekly newsletter go to josephmattera.org.
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