Going to a Deeper Place

[This article is part of the “spiritual leadership today” study/discussion going on this year. For all articles in the series, click the Spiritual Influence tab at the top of the page. To have them delivered, subscribe to The Brook Letter]

Today there are a hundred reasons to live superficially. It is the easy way. The convenient way. The common way.

But when we go to a deeper place, using the minds God gave us to get below the surface of things, we discover ways for all of life to be rationally connected. And so spiritual leadership means helping people think more deeply.

People don’t need us to take complex issues and make them black and white, or cut and dried. Biblical convictions give stability and strength to our decisions because they give us more insight and a finer-tuned view of reality. But that very vision is more complex than if we approached life without biblical truth.

Some critics of faith think that the more “spiritual” a person is, the dumber. They understand spirituality as a choice to be anti-intellectual. They cannot understand how anyone would prefer the vague and ethereal to the empirical and scientific. But if all human beings are spiritual because they have been made in the image of God who is Spirit, then “spirit” will never be set against thought and rationality. Instead, “spirit” is the apex of mind and order.

People committed to spiritual leadership should be the smartest people around because they know that the mind is an extraordinary gift of the Creator, whose mind surpasses all other minds. And they are enthused about and committed to the growth of understanding. They see life experience and education, research and simple reading as the way they feed their hungry souls.

They know that the active mind is a way to love God:

“‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’ Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment'” (Matt. 22:36-38; emphasis added).

In the aftermath of some of the worst leadership decisions there is often a chorus of voices saying: what were they thinking? The truth is, the decision-makers may not have been thinking at all. People with no wit and no wisdom are placed in positions of major influence all the time. The masses who sometimes put them there look for results–they don’t necessarily care about rationale if they get what they want. And so we end up with monstrous national debt, impulsive business decisions, and church ministries with no grounding in theology or even principle.

There are powerful cultural currents today which devalue deep thought.

Our impatience and looking for the quick fix make deep thought unattractive. It takes too much time, too much effort. We don’t have margin for conversations or deliberation. We’d rather not have to read books.

The blessing of the vast body of information available to us is also a curse because it is chopped up into bite-sized pieces. It is also scattered in containers that hold vast quantities of digitized thought. Our reporting of knowledge today does not have the discipline required by printed books and journals. String a few words together–email them, blog them, or tweet them–and you’re on the record. And someone a hemisphere away may consider your words as authoritative as someone who has spent a lifetime accumulating expertise.

We call our doorway to the internet “browsers,” which trains us to skip from one information source to the next darting from one voice to the next, not listening deeply. We merely flirt with some of the greatest thinkers of our day.

We spend less time reflecting on what we read and watch because there is always another channel to turn to, another website to land on. We are like fish darting from one shiny object to the next.

Today anyone can be a publisher. There are upsides to the democratization of opinion–where Mary the Homemaker’s views are as accessible as those of a columnist in the New York Times. But the question of credibility is often ignored. Mary’s comments about a country on the other side of the world are not balanced against a career journalist who has lived in that country.

This is not a harangue, and it is not a criticism of the tools of mass communication today. Tools are just tools. Radio, and then television, and now the internet are amazing tools. They are vehicles conveying massive loads of intellectual cargo. But we must steer the vehicles, not just passively go along for a ride. Let’s admit it: we are all inclined to choose the easy path.

The mind is hungry. But what will be the diet?

What do you think?

11 thoughts on “Going to a Deeper Place”

  1. John F. Baumgartner

    …interesting read….

    …(where is it said)…(scripture?)…

    ….today is a… “day” of the Lord….’let us rejoice and be glad in it’….

  2. Your statement regarding the credibility of the writer and the blindness in which people will take such information and consider it truth is SO true! The best illustration that immediately comes to my mind is the abuse of the statement “the separation of church and state”. A statement so misunderstood that many people do not realize that it was from a letter written by Thomas Jefferson, and is most certainly not from the 1st amendment of our US constitution. I think of the disastrous effects of just that one statement being misused.
    I think our young people especially are at risk. I do not think most kids understand how this misinformation can be used to manipulate them. They need to be diligent in their research and as leaders we need to be diligent in teaching them to use those critical thinking skills.
    Thanks for the article! It is a much needed message in this information age.

  3. Mel,
    good thoughts. the fickle nature of our culture is seen in our need to grab the supeficial and declare it depth. unfotunately the we as Christians have been heavily influenced by our culture, but because of our lack of Biblical depth cannot understand how we should be different. information has to often replaced study (a work in process) as the measure of maturity. That dilimma leads to “the blind leading the blind”. thanks for thinking out loud my friend.

    1. Thanks, Joe, for reinforcing the point. I’m speaking to myself in a lot of ways in this article because I am so inclined to go the easy path, looking for the sound bite and letting others do the heavy lifting. But when I slow down and take a deeper look at something the rewards are incredible. Stay well!

  4. Mel, great thought process and it is always important to be reminded of how important it is to “think”.

    I am a management consultant and owner of a company and the most consistent error in business is the inability to take the time to think. The normal sequence we preach is to think, plan, execute and evaluate or (TPEE). The only long term successful businesses are subject to this process, the others sooner or later fail.

    Thanks for your insightful thoughts. Keep on thinking!


  5. Leo Giulianetti

    I feel your message: “Going to a Deeper Place” is on target.
    One of my concerns, as a grandparent, is how to coach/mentor my children in the way to reflect on the Word. We live in a transactional world with very little time given to verification of content. It’s read and respond immediately. Time for reflection and meditation is unknown. Maybe Jesus needs a Facebook page?
    Can we go deeper into this topic?

  6. A thought provoking message. My experience with young people has made it clear to me that they are searching for what is true. Adults are leading the way, as you wrote, “like fish darting from one shiny object to the next.” Judges 21:25 says “In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” The glut of information offered via the internet, the lack of deep study and the search for the quick fix, does encourage superficial living where Truth, and the chosen voice of truth, are given equal value. It makes it easy for an individual to choose what is “right in his own eyes.” It is interesting that our sceptical society accepts the “truth” of the interenet voices with little question, but quickly questions the truth of any voice that speaks with proven authority.

  7. In a society in which deep thought is not particularly valued, yours is an important voice in the wilderness. One of my seminary professors is a proponent of just taking TIME to THINK. When he said this in class, my heart leaped!…permission to think! This because all my life I’ve been told “you think too much.”

    Now I have a new perspective – that thinking is good. I also believe that we transform the world for God starting with one person at a time. So, I look for kindred spirits who also like to think, and we spend time talking about what we think about. It’s like drinking from the ocean and growing to meet it – wonderful!

    Thanks again.

  8. It is refreshing to hear or rather should I say read feedback from readers of the above network. I certainly would like be in the loop of what ‘ Brooks Network’ has to offer.

    Sorry I happen to stumble upon this website in my OUTLOOK a/c and happen to jump into the this section however I would like to share that NOTHING IS SIMPLY “happen to stumble into…” I would and am ready to admit that I was ‘guided’ into this website by you-know what.

    In His service.

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