Critical Thinking

I was reading a great article today in Inc. Magazine on critical thinking.  I’m of the opinion that most churches and church leaders, and most likely anyone else in leadership, experience lack of personal and corporate growth, are stuck in the rut of an unproductive strategy, and create too much frustration because they do not understand the importance and necessity of critical thinking.

The essence of critical thinking, according to the book “Winning Decisions”, is to slow down the process, learn how to reframe problems, see beyond the familiar, and focus on what is unique in any important decision situation.  I’ve learned the need for becoming a critical thinker myself, as well as seeking out critical thinkers, over the past several years of my life as I’ve considered things like the church having a greater marketplace impact, engaging the emerging generation in entrepreneurial and leadership development, and simply challenging the church to a more powerful and productive missional lifestyle and fruitfulness.  For those of you facing important decisions in leadership or otherwise, consider the following four ways to hone your critical thinking skills:

  1. Slow down.  Take time to consider multiple problem definitions before moving towards a solution.  In other words, stop and have the conversation about what the core issue really is and the best way to overcome it.
  2. Break out of the box.  One of the main reasons people never move beyond where they are is because they simply do what they’ve always done.  Facing challenges and important decisions is a great time to buck conventional wisdom and look for new, innovative, or simply better ways to change your situation and solve your problem.
  3. Foster debate.  Just because someone disagrees with you doesn’t mean they oppose you!  Encouraging debate can bring much needed insight and ideas to the table that otherwise would have been squelched by only intreating with those who agree with us.  We must approach alternative views and thoughts with an open mind so we don’t become a prisoner to our own myopic mental model.
  4. Run with the mavericks.  Seek out those who are on the cutting edge, who are using the chaos as the seedbed for creativity, and who simply see the world, especially the church world, differently.  They’re not rebels, not crazy, they’re most likely anointed by God two move his church and his cause forward!

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