• Our hope-filled future is bound up in sharing the story of Jesus, in discipling others, in bringing those disciples together into communities of believers, and in developing and releasing those believers to create other communities... till Jesus the King comes again!

Deep thinking is more than just discussing

Something caught my attention in a business blog post I was reading this week. The author wrote: “Focus is hard to come by and we all have to switch between projects and tasks all the time, for a variety of reasons. I mean, it comes with the job-any job really. I don’t think many would argue that when you eliminate distraction and focus, you’ll get better work done faster.”discussion

What I think the author is trying to say is that the outcome or the natural outflow of deep thinking and reflection is focused and directed action. To put it another way, deep thinking is more than just discussing because it leads to specific outcomes or acts.

Discussion is the activity of looking at an issue from a variety of angles. Many of us are very good at this activity. However, discussion in and of itself often does not lead to practical outcomes and steps. We can feel good about having “sized up” an issue and given our thoughts and ideas about the issue. Deep thinking is more than that.

Deep thinking certainly includes discussion, but it pushes us to ask the focused question of how to take all that we have considered and work it out in our lives and ministries. Deep thinking pushes us to “focus” on the issue and discern the practical ramifications for our work.

Discussion is one starting point. However, to move on towards deep thinking, we might ask the question: With the hour that is in front of us, if we focused on this issue, what action steps would flow out from the core principles we have raised and discerned? It takes courage to move the discussion in this direction. It will call for us to first “eliminate distraction” and focus.

3 Responses

  1. David, I really appreciate you drawing our intention to the issue of thinking…deeply. There could be thousands of thoughts that race across my mind everyday. How do I settle my mind and discipline it into thinking about matters of deepest importance? Here are some actions I have found helpful:

    1) Prayer. As I read this post I kept getting drawn back to our discussion below from earlier this week about the interplay between thinking and prayer. By intentionally setting aside times for prayer seasoned in deep thought I can bring what’s going on in my mind to the Master and ask for his guidance in forming action steps. I find the typical hours of prayer each day are not the times to do this per se. My preference has been to set aside a different, specific hour, or half day or even a full day when enough thoughts accumulate.The words of the hymn summarize this well: “take it to the Lord in prayer.”

    This is also why we should pray together. We need each other – the community – to not only discuss, to test our thoughts – but also pray for us and with us.

    2) Read. And read perspectives on my thoughts that challenge what I am contemplating or disagree with the direction I sense myself and others going. This is a kind of seeking out a “devil’s advocate” to argue the alternate idea(s). Reading feeds the mind and the heart. Sometimes the reading can be done in the Scriptures and other times in literature, or a book or article from another discipline (business, the sciences, sports).

    3) Test. As I move towards action, which is what you are calling for here, perhaps I can test out my thinking on a few or a small group before moving forward with the action to the larger group of colleagues, teammates, followers, or the church. Creating an incubator for the idea in action can be a great way to test what is right or flawed in my thinking.

    • Guess we could summarize your good thoughts in: pray, read and test. I would add one to that list (which you actually said in your note) and have it be pray, read, discuss/debate and test. The practice of engaging in good dialogue with others helps us ‘think’ better.

  2. Agreed!

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