Stop and ask yourself this: the last time someone told you a story, what’s the first thing you did with that? Did you take it for face value, or did you ask the person some questions? However you responded, that is probably your natural go-to way of receiving information. How often do we actually stop and think about the information we’re taking in? Maybe you’ve heard this story before, but I think it’s a great illustration for why we need to truly think for ourselves:
A young woman was preparing a pot roast while her friend looked on. She cut off both ends of the roast, prepared it and put it in the pan. “Why do you cut off the ends?” her friend asked. “I don’t know,” she replied, “my mother always did it that way and I learned how to cook it from her.”
Her friend’s question made her curious about her pot roast preparation. During her next visit home, she asked her mother, “How do you cook a pot roast?” Her mother proceeded to explain and added, “You cut off both ends, prepare it and put it in the pot and then in the oven.” “Why do you cut off the ends?” the daughter asked. Baffled, the mother offered, “That’s how my mother did it and I learned it from her!”
Her daughter’s inquiry made the mother think more about the pot roast preparation. When she next visited her mother in the nursing home, she asked, “Mom, how do you cook a pot roast?” The mother slowly answered, thinking between sentences. “Well, you prepare it with spices, cut off both ends and put it in the pot.” The mother asked, “But why do you cut off the ends?” The grandmother’s eyes sparkled as she remembered, “Well, the roasts were always bigger than the pot that we had back then. I had to cut off the ends to fit it into the pot that I owned.”
THINKING PEOPLE ARE SET APART
When we were young, our parents taught us what we should think about the world. This becomes our natural way of responding to the colossal amounts of information that comes our way each day. Our parents have a mandate to teach us right from wrong, how to interpret the things we see and experience. But as we grow up, it’s so important that we learn the art of thinking for ourselves. I’m not talking about the ability to recount facts or tell me something that happened to you yesterday. That’s not thinking. Remembering and thinking are two different things.
So what sets true thinking people apart from the rest? Thinking people ask questions and have an inquisitive spirit. They don’t take things at face value, but they naturally and immediately think: “Why did that happen? Who did it happen to? How can I get that to recur? Can I reproduce that on a larger scale in others? Was that a sovereign act of God, or did the will of man have anything to do with it?” and so on. Thinking people know how to extract from stories the things that aren’t obvious, sifting through the facts, noticing details and pulling out a deeper meaning and the effects thereof.
Why is this important? Because if you can’t think for yourself you’re missing out on some of the greatest empowerment that God has given us; freedom and the truth that we have been given the mind of Christ. When we unconsciously restrict ourselves to the obvious way of thinking that the world operates under, we miss out on true revelation. And in the worst cases, we choose stupidity and ignorance over innovation. So, do you think for yourself? Truly?
WHY NOT THINK?
Thinking is risky business and some people, whether they realize it or not, don’t want to think. Here are some reasons why:
1. You are afraid to ask questions because you think that your ignorance will be interpreted as stupidity.
Some people believe that if they ask questions, others will think they didn’t believe their story, or that they have no faith. They think that taking things as they are presented is faith. The problem with this is that they never learn how to reproduce testimonies because they have no understanding of why they occur. The truth is that being okay with asking questions shows that you know God as your friend, not your slave master. God loves and invites questions as they’re a gateway to greater connection with Him and understanding of the ways He moves.
2. You are afraid of coming up with a wrong answer or conclusion.
Some people don’t want to be wrong because they equate being wrong with failure. We must realize that every time we get the wrong answer, we have just learned something new. Every wrong answer takes us one step closer to the right answer and even though we may still not know how things work, we’ve at least learned how they don’t work. And progress is worth celebrating along the way to understanding!
3. You don’t like responsibility.
A lot of people don’t want to have to take ownership of things. Coming up with new answers or questions means becoming responsible for the revelation we receive. For example: If I don’t know how someone is doing and I ask them, suddenly I feel responsible for what I know. Thus, in some cases, ignorance is bliss. But are you made to take the easy way out? With greater knowledge comes greater responsibility, but wouldn’t you rather live empowered than in a box closed off to the world around you?
REALLY THINK ABOUT IT
Today I want to challenge you to take an honest self-evaluation of the way you think. Are you a true thinker, or do you have room to grow in this area? If you’ve been living in what you see as blissful ignorance, maybe it’s time to break down the walls that have honestly caged you in. When approaching politics, current events, that big problem at work or obstacles you face in your daily life I encourage you to ask questions, dig deeper, take a story and turn it around in your mind so you can see it from different perspectives. Don’t let any person or culture tell you what to think. Allow curiosity and Holy Spirit to be your guide into the reality of heaven all around you.
This article was written by Kris Vallotton and originally appeared at his blog. Find it here.