Why Every Leader Must Think—And See—Differently

Blind, you say? No, I am not blind, why do you ask?

I often pose the question, “How many blind people did Jesus minister to?” After a pause for effect and a few answers, I deliver my point.

“All of the people Jesus ministered to were blind.”

All of us see as clearly as we can see. All of us see all we are able to see. But none of us see all that can be seen. As soon as we assume we see everything that can be seen, we have locked in our own level of blindness.

Assume the simple fact that a biblical worldview assumes we are surrounded by a world that cannot be seen with our physical eyes. Add to this multiple layers and types of what I am learning to call “prisoner thinking” and we may find we are far worse off than if we were simply physically blind. At least the optically blind are aware of what they see not.

The word “repent” comes from a Greek word that means “think differently.” In English the word “differently” is an adverb, not an adjective. All this means is that the “thinking” is the part that should be different, not just the thought.

Let me say this another way.

To change our ways of thinking changes every thought that follows, and every thought that went before.

“Ways of thinking” refers to the overarching processes that guide and inform our thoughts. “Ways of thinking” refers to the process of our thinking, not just the contents of our thoughts.

My friend Alan Smith says we always look through our glasses, we seldom look at them. The lenses through which we take in reality, the thoughts that guide how we think, these over-riding processes are referred to as “meta-cognition.”

Meta-cognition refers to the simple idea that the brain programs itself, and it has even been programmed as to how it programs itself.

Ultimately all of our “ways of thinking,” or meta-cognition, can be traced back to the shift in the human race when we were created and functioned as carriers of the Breath of Life, and in a single moment switched our source and foundation to the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

The Knowledge of Good and Evil is not simply a new package of thoughts. The Fall marks a shift in the guiding processes of the human mind. It generated a new meta-cognition. In fact, I would say this is a meta-meta-cognition. Under the umbrella of the Knowledge of Good and Evil are multiple other shifts in our meta-cognitive processes.

As I like to say, when we have lost our glasses, we have two problems. We have lost our glasses, but we have also lost the way we find lost things. In our search for the kind of truth that makes us free, it is often the way we search and the ways we think that hold us still in bondage.

Let me describe the struggle as simply as I know how.

For every thought, there is both a thought and a way of thinking.

For every way of thinking, there exist other ways of thinking the same thought.

People are often limited to a single way of thinking but do not recognize this. Most people assume their way is the way.

When people try to know truth, or even right and wrong, they usually examine thoughts but not ways of thinking. 

Two people with two ways of thinking can believe they are talking about the same thing and be on completely different topics.

Often one way of thinking is of a higher order (not better, just able to take in more perspectives) than another.

Example: A very concrete thinker and a very abstract thinker can have a conversation, and both have a very different understanding of the conversation.

Jesus: Beware the leaven of the Pharisees.

Disciples: Is He saying this because we forgot the bread?

The abstract thinker can see both perspectives, while the concrete thinker is locked into only his own perspective. Because he is locked into his own perspective, he does not even know another perspective can exist. Try to push this conversation with the disciples and they will simply increase their level of bread thinking. They must be shifted to a different way of thinking before this conversation can actually progress.

This conundrum is most evidenced in male-female relationships, where the biggest differences between genders is the ways each gender thinks. I am convinced one of the reasons God calls us “helpers suitable to one another’s needs” is that we can both be stuck in ways of thinking. We (male and female) need one another to not remain stuck) Another place you will see this distinction played out is in comment streams on Internet posts. This is a very difficult context to help people come to similar ways of thinking.

I will do several posts in the days ahead highlighting some ways of thinking and the intent to move people to do more than just think new thoughts.

Begin to think with me: “I am certain I do not see all there is to see.” Just as important: “I am certain I do not yet see in the same way God sees.” Let’s begin to think differently.  

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Bob Hamp is the Executive Pastor, Pastoral Care Ministries, at Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas. He was a counselor in private practice for sixteen years and holds a Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy. He is also the author of "Think Differently, Live Differently: Keys to a Life of Freedom."

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