I’ve been spending some time this week studying the concept of critical thinking. As I mentioned in my last post, I believe we’ve come to an important point in our own personal histories, where God is asking us if we’re willing to do the internal work necessary to move into the next level of what He’s called us to accomplish.
To make the leap, we’re going to have to change the way we think. We’re going to have to deal with mindsets that are holding us back and we’re going to have sharpen our thinking skills so that we can be effective move forward.
One of the words I keep hearing from prophetic leaders is that we need to prepare for a year of shaking. The world is already moving fast, but we need to prepare for an even greater acceleration that will leave many people feeling fearful and uncertain.
That doesn’t have to be us.
When the world is shaking, it can bury you or it can cause you to rise above what’s been shaken. How we think will determine where we find ourselves.
The Importance Of Critical Thinking
The concept of critical thinking has become a bit of a buzzword in the last few years. Employers say it’s one of the top skills they are looking for. They also say it’s a skill that most employees lack. Leaders who make wise, well-reasoned decisions are hot commodities. Because of this, critical thinking has become essential to survival.
It’s equally crucial to building the Kingdom. But we can’t approach it the way the world does. For the believer, critical thinking isn’t about disciplining your mind to make informed decisions. It’s about disciplining your thinking so that it aligns with the thinking of God.
That’s a lot harder than you might think. To understand why, we need to look at how our brains are wired.
We’re Not Wired To Think Critically
Our approach to problem solving will always be limited because of our wiring. The brain is amazingly complex, yet it has its limitations. In the book, The Charisma Myth, Olivia Fox Cabane highlights some interesting facts about the brain.
For example, the brain has difficulty distinguishing between imagination and reality. If you’ve watched a movie full of action or suspense, you know what I’m talking about! As the tension mounts, your pulse accelerates. Something scary happens and you jump! The danger is imaginary, yet your body responds as if you are actually experiencing what you see on screen. That’s fight or flight in action.
The fight or flight mechanism is one of our most innate characteristics. When it kicks in, everything else takes a backseat. The body rushes to defense mode, sending all its resources to assist with the functions crucial to survival, at the expense of what it deems less important – things such as muscle repair, digestion and cognitive reasoning.
Analytical thinking, creativity and problem solving skills become impaired as the body focuses on survival. This happens whether you’re being attacked physically or verbally, even when it’s you attacking yourself through doubt and self-criticism.
Your survival instincts also kick in when you are in the midst of uncertainty. Anything that’s uncertain might be dangerous. Some people will do anything to avoid the panic of uncertainty, even rushing into bad decisions just to avoid feeling out of control. Your emotions scream for resolution, but at what cost?
If you give in, you allow your emotions to gain dominion over your thought processes. When that happens, it becomes incredibly hard to discern what God is saying.
So you can see the challenges of simply relying on our own minds when it comes to critical thinking. The very situations in which high-level critical thinking is required are fraught with the very things that our brains want to avoid – uncertainty, ambiguity and stress.
Developing Biblical Critical Thinking Skills
There are plenty of books out there teaching techniques to overcome the mind’s limitations, but I think God put those limitations in us for a greater purpose – to teach us that we must learn to subdue our flesh and develop our spirits. Our own minds are limited, but when we access the mind of God, we tap into unlimited wisdom.
“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9
Whether on the global stage dealing with terrorist threats, poverty or pandemic viruses, or on the local level, dealing with our business and family decisions, God has answers to the challenges that we face. We don’t have to live in fear, and we don’t have to give in. When the world is shaking with chaos and uncertainty, we can shine a light on our God by the wise counsel we possess.
But to tap into those answers, we’ve got to train our minds to think in a different way. We must learn to think the way that He thinks about the questions we face. That is Biblical critical thinking.
Biblical critical thinking takes a completely different approach than what we were taught in school. It’s no longer about tolerance for ambiguity and asking the right questions. It’s about dismantling everything that gets in the way of our ability to hear the Holy Spirit. That includes:
…the noise in our heads
…our prejudices and biases
…our way of doing things
…our desire to please
…our longing for reward
…our desire to call the shots
…the way we pray
…the way we use our time
…the way we worship
We have to capture our thoughts, tuning out all the obstacles so that we can hear what He is saying. Some of the greatest warfare that we face involves how we think.
The enemy knows that if he can twist how you think, he will limit your effectiveness in your calling. He can cause you to freeze in the face of fear, build walls that hinder vital relationships, and cloud your perspective with self-rejection and doubt.
Once we’ve cleared the air around us, we must begin to listen to the questions that God is asking. As we consider His questions, our minds will begin to think at a higher level, approaching challenges with wisdom beyond our pay grade. Biblical critical thinking is not about God feeding us the right answers. It’s about training our minds to think like He does, approaching challenges the way that He would.
Twelve Keys To Building Your Biblical Critical Thinking Skills
To help make this process practical, I have adapted a teaching from God’s Unfolding Battle Plan, by Chuck Pierce that will help you develop your critical thinking skills.
- Define your problem and clarify your real concern.
- Evaluate all relevant information and then look for gaps in what you know.
- Recognize where your biases may be hindering your approach.
- Get past small thinking by clarifying the authority God has given you in the situation.
- Strip the problem down to the root cause by asking relevant questions. Don’t settle for your first few answers. They’re never correct.
- Examine your point of view. Are you approaching the situation from your own limited perspective?
- Be willing to shift your perspective when God asks.
- Look for things you may be taking for granted in your analysis.
- Check to be sure you’re not making any intellectual judgments that may hinder you coming to a successful solution.
- Step back to look at the big picture. Are you missing any vital components by being to close to the situation?
- Filter your approach through the Word of God.
- Make worship the highest priority in your day and be intentional about keeping your spiritual communication lines open. Through worship, you will ascend to the place where His thoughts become clear.
Wrapping It Up
You were created with a set of skills and a calling that matches the needs of this generation. God knows every threat and challenge that the world will face at different points in history. When He created you, He had all of that in mind. Your gifts and abilities are perfectly suited for the challenges in front of you. The enemy is sure to bring warfare, but God knows that, too.
You have access to everything that you need, but gaining access requires a different way of thinking. Man’s idea of critical thinking will only get you so far. Through Biblical critical thinking, you can access the wisdom you need to think like He thinks, approaching complex situations by applying the resources of Heaven. Disciplining your mind is the key.
What challenges do you face in your thinking?
How do you handle uncertainty?
How have you used Biblical critical thinking in a challenging situation?
What things have worked for you in developing Biblical critical thinking skills?
I’d love to hear your thoughts.