Who Does the Thinking?

For the last couple of months I have taken Sam on Tuesdays while Danelle has taken the day to do whatever she wants. Often this involves some time reading, praying and tuning into God in a more focused way than is possible with fatboy around.

We were talking last night about this practice of taking time to read/reflect/pray/dream/think and I suggested that maybe it should be normal for everyone – that we all need to create significant space in our lives to listen to God and to think beyond the day to day.

Danelle wasn’t so sure.

She wasn’t convinced it was either possible or important for everyone to spend substantial time in reflective types of activities. She wondered whether it is down to some of us to do more thinking on behalf of all of us in a church / mission setting.

Its an interesting question.

You see in my observation people want two similar but at times disparate things. They want to be able to think thru decisions and processes, but they also want to be led with conviction. Sometimes leading with conviction can over-ride the importance of people thinking for themselves. A charismatic leader can convince people of a direction by the power of persuasion. But if people go along with a convincing idea without really owning it then ultimately it is doomed, because it lacks genuine ownership.

Maybe the skill of leadership is in doing both effectively – thinking deeply, broadly and well ahead, but also facilitating a process that helps others engage significantly with the questions.

It does mean that one or two people end up doing the bulk of the thinking.

Is this a problem, or is it just a reality that we need to face?

The idealists (see previous post) will always want everyone engaged in every decision and signing off on it with concensus. The pragmatist just does whatever works.

In our setting I accept that I do way more thinking than anyone else. I have the time and I also love thinking. (This blog is often the spill out of the thoughts in my head.) Maybe we just need to accept that those in full time jobs cannot give the level of thought to our community processes that someone with my time can. Maybe we need to factor that in to our decision making in some way.

I’d be interested to hear some other insights on this as we (Upstream) began with something of an idealist perspective on this (i.e. we all make decisions) but reality is that we don’t all think things thru as thoroughly and it often ends up that I give a pretty strong steer.

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