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Books for those in ministry organizations who desire to take their leadership, teams, governance, and ministry effectiveness to the next level.

27 Jul '13

Thinking deeply on the things that truly matter

Posted by T.J. Addington in critical thinking, deep thinking, thinking
People of deep influence are deep thinkers. Surface thinking is one of the scourges of our time. Shallow thinking leads to shallow solutions and shallow results. Deep influence itself is a result of taking the time to deal with the issues of our inner lives, our relationship with God, our EQ, our shadow side and many other internal disciplines and issues. None of this is possible without the deepest of thinking.

The book of proverbs speaks of “mining” the things of God. That mining is done primarily in the inner recesses of our lives. Henry Nouwen wrote that we don’t like to be silent and still because we are then confronted with the scaffolding of our lives, some of which we don’t like, some of which we abhor. Yet, without taking the time to be still and silent we miss out on the ability to search deep things in our lives and in our ministries. There is a reason that the Lord says through Isaiah, “Be still and know that I am God.” It is in that stillness that we are confronted with His full majesty!

The thinking of people of influence is born out of the practice, habit and discipline of extended periods of thinking. Our frenetic schedules and propensity to activity are the main enemies of deep thinking. As it robs us of time to think it also robs us of our influence.

This is why I block off major portions of my year for writing and thinking. For me, writing often clarifies my thinking so that is a discipline that is critical for me to maintain. I encourage pastors to develop a preaching team so that they can take time off from the weekly grind of preparation to stop and think deeply about their lives and ministries. If time to think, ponder, and meditate deeply is important to us, then our schedules should reflect that discipline. And think time should not be the first to go when things press into our schedules.

Equally important is time for deep dialogue with other leaders. It is not unusual for me to take 24 hours to be with another leader whom I respect and trust and to share our lives and talk through situations we face. This is thinking multiplied as two deep thinkers sharpen and challenge one another!

Truly deep thinkers are hard to find but when one does, they are a treasure to be nurtured and a friendship to be cultivated. For me, one of these is my brother Tom who is one of the most insightful people I know. He is a contrarian thinker and a deep thinker. He asks probing questions and has a humble demeanor. He is as others have said to me, “without guile.” Tom and I regularly try to find time together and both of us leave better for it.

Because I work in the international arena, I rub shoulders with some amazing movement leaders from around the globe. Usually I meet with national leaders in a group setting. But there are some unusually deep thinkers among them that I will schedule full days with, sometimes multiple days. In our mutual dialogue, sharing of life and ministry I come away with insights that cannot be had any other way. Hopefully I leave something of value behind as well. There is a multiplication factor of critical thinking when deep thinkers spend time together.

One of my former colleagues, Steve, actually has a band of five brothers who meet together on an annual basis, and have done so since seminary days. They have a pact to be transparent and honest and they are able to speak into each other’s personal lives, marriages, hearts and ministries. They have developed a powerful bond with one another that helps them think more deeply and live more intentionally.