The Training Table: “Got Thinking?”

Mind-the-GapWelcome to the Training Table where you can depend on some spiritually-nourishing chow, carefully prepared, to help you run the Godly and good race! For what good is a good race, unless it’s a Godly race? (2 Timothy 4:7; 1 Corinthians 9:24; Galatians 5:7)

Today’s feast of the heart at The Training Table consists of some sustenance that was recently brought to mind during a very fruitful time with some guys in my weekly men’s Fellowship Group.

The basis for part of our discussion was during the time that we regularly set aside to hear praise reports and prayer requests from one another. Of the several prayer requests that were made, some of them referred to people that were having specific difficulties in their lifeand specifically how certain difficulties in their adult life existed as a result of unresolved issues in their life as a child.

The discussion brought me back to my own childhood and one of the strategies I used to survive a challenging early-life story: I spent a great deal of time hiding, by myself, and with psychology, philosophy, and religious books far above my ability to understand. I grew attached to this habit of the mind and heart in order to get lost in the thoughts of the authors and stories… rather than face the effect of the words, deeds, and thoughts of those around me.

The Thinking That Got Me Thinking

The strategy worked perfectly for the time and circumstances that God had allotted for me as a child: I survived! And, even as a child, I unwittingly grew accustomed to thinking and discerning things at a variety of levels way beyond my age. In fact, when I went away to boarding school at age 15 a nickname of mine that stuck for a few close pals was “Heavy.” I was the one who took tended to take the conversation down several notches to places unthought-of by others. Understandably, the habit was intriguing to some and obnoxious to others… [And I’m certain that the really fun times spent in our forts in the woods around Salisbury passing the pot pipe was conducive to minds wandering… “heavy thinking”… as well!]

As an adult, the part of this strategy that did not work in the realm of relationships was that I had a very hard time getting out of my head and into the emotions, feelings of any issue. All of the emotions that had been successfully compartmentalized and safely sequestered to the realms of my heart so that they were no longer dangerous to my existence as a child were also inaccessible as an adult. Things had to change…

The good news was that, later on in life, I was nearly incapable of NOT attempting to adding value to other people’s lives in the form of offering insights, and discernment, and interpretation, and the mixed blessing of a gift I adopted as a child: Reading between the lines. [But, like any gift unguarded, was a double-dog-curse of unwarranted insight and self-aggrandizing advice.]

“MINDING THE GAP” was one application of the gift I employed as a consultant later on in life. MIND THE GAP is a term coined by the operators of The London Undergroundwhere I spent a great deal of time as a consultant to a UK-based firm… and outright stole the term and its intended and unintended meaning.

Reading between the lines: “Deep Thinking”
A habit born in very cruel circumstances… later transformed into a gift by God.

Even my little heart as a child knew that there must have been something good that was being said amidst so much of the bad, and I was constantly searching between the lines for what that might be. I spent an inordinate amount of time thinking, thinking more deeply, thinking… and thinking again.

Admittedly this is a very sad scenario for a little person to develop this expertise by having to adapt to very difficult circumstances, but it served me well later in life AFTER I had moved to the place of understanding my inestimable worth as a child of God coupled with my ability and love to read between the lines and pass along anything hidden, comforting, reasonable, assuring, exhorting… or of value of any kind to my relationships and readers.

One of the Christian’s main duties to other Christians is similar, “To make the invisible visible… and therefore actionable.” (1 John 4:1) Doing this in truth and love is the challenge and blessing. (Ephesians 4:15)

One truism this preface to a piece of writing below is based on is the biblical wisdom of, “You [Satan, any evil] intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Genesis 50:20).

So, as I thought about all of the above, a GAP Report came to mind that I had written twelve years ago. The GAP Report was a weekly offering from Dozier and Associatesmy leadership coaching, organizational effectiveness, and strategic planning consultancy. I got a great deal of enjoyment out of thinking and writing content of this kind, and I was always blessed beyond measure that my thoughts and words and the same from others may have had an positive impact on the lives of other people.

October 10, 2002
The GAP Report: “It’s A Bountiful Mind … GAP”

First of all, I want to publicly thank the numerous people who have dropped me a line to “thank me” for successfully achieving the goal of The GAP Report: “The effort is meant to truthfully yet lovingly push loyal participants to stretch their minds, to try and come to terms with philosophical presuppositions, to affect the heart and boldly move from intention to action—and then join the crusade the help “MIND THE GAP” with and for others on the journey with them.”

Many of the comments I’ve received have “taken the back door” to thanking me for this effort by defiantly stating a passionate indifference to the subject. Others have courageously thanked me for stretching their thinking and emotions to limits no one has stretched them before. Still others have stated that, under no uncertain terms, do they want to hear any more of it.

Well, as the modern-day journalist, Malcolm Muggeridge once said, “The only thing that an author hates more than criticism, is silence.” Thanks very much for reinforcing the fact that minds [and hearts] are being stretched. You know how the saying goes: Neither mind nor heart ever returns to its original shape!


In celebration of the wonder and awesome nature of the human mind, and our unique capability to think; and in support of the now-hackneyed, yet never-more-true and still-unfulfilled-promise-of-educational-campaign-rhetoric, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste”… I want to offer up a piece about thinking from Eastern Indian-born, widely acclaimed Christian theologian, apologist and converted Hindu, Ravi Zacharias.

Allow me also to point out the stark reality that, in the brief span of time between when Ravi wrote the words below about “proactive contemplative time” and ”thinking”, and our day, the avoidance of quiet time, the pathological busyness, and unconscious tactic to avoid even a brief pause between sentences during casual conversations, the dread of silence of any kind… has gotten exponentially prevalent and problematic!

This is especially true of our beloved children. As many honest parents would admit—if there was time to slow down and think about it—the numbero uno mortal sin of the day is BOREDOM. This reality is now bearing the fruit of seeds sewn a few decades ago and I’m afraid we have not nearly begun to reap the whirlwind of this reality, dear friends. But it’s not too late…

“The Dying Art of Thinking”
“The 17th-century French philosopher Rene Descartes (pronounced Day-Kart) is best known for his dictum, “I think, therefore, I am.” A cynic may well quip that Descartes actually put “des cart before des horse”, because all he could have legitimately deduced was, “I think, therefore, thinking exists.” I do not intend to defend or counter Cartesian philosophy; I only wish to underscore that thinking has much to do with life and certainty.

One of the tragic casualties of our age has been that of the contemplative life—a life that thinks; thinks things through; and, more particularly, thinks God’s thoughts after Him.

A person sitting at his desk and staring out of the window would never be assumed to be working. No! Thinking is not equated with work. Yet, had Newton under his tree, or Archimedes in his bathtub bought into that prejudice, some natural laws would still be up in the air, or buried under an immovable rock. Pascal’s “Pensees”, a work that has inspired millions, would have never been penned.

The Bible places supreme value in the thought life. “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he,” Solomon wrote. Jesus asserted that sin’s gravity lay in the idea itself, not just the act. Paul admonished the church at Philippi to have the mind of Christ, and to the same people he wrote, “Whatever is true . . . pure . . . if there be any virtue . . . think on these things.”

The follower of Christ must demonstrate to the world what it is not just to think, but to think justly. But how does one manage this in a culture where progress is determined by pace and defined by quantity?

What is even more destructive is that the greatest demand comes from neither speed nor quantity, but rather from the assumption that silence is inimical to life.

The radio in the car, Muzak in the elevator, and the symphony entertaining the “on hold” callers add up as impediments to personal reflection. In effect, the mind is denied the privilege of living with itself even briefly, and is crowded with outside impulses to cope with aloneness.

Aldous Huxley’s indictment, “Most of one’s life . . . is one prolonged effort to prevent thinking”, seems frightfully true. The price paid for this scenario has been devastating. T. S. Eliot observed:

“Where is the life we have lost in the living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?
The cycles of heaven in the past twenty centuries bring us farther from God and nearer to dust.”

Is there a remedy? May I make some suggestions for personal and corporate benefit?

Study God’s Word
Nothing ranks higher for mental discipline than a planned and systematic study of God’s Word, from whence life’s parameters and values are planted in the mindand are critical for the thinking person. Paul, who loved his books and parchments, affirmed the priority of Scripture: “Do not go beyond what is written.” Psalm 119 promises that God’s statutes keep us from being double-minded.

Read Great Books
The English-speaking world is endowed with a wealth of books. But much contemporary literature comes perilously close to a promiscuous religion with an appeal for the “feel better” syndrome, rather than the impetus to “go deeper.”

Read authors who stretch you and introduce you to other writings as well. Great writers stimulate your capacity to think beyond their ideas, spawning fresh insights and extensions of your own. Good reading is indispensable to impartation of truth. An expenditure of words without the income of ideas leads to conceptual bankruptcy.

Challenge the Mind
The church as a whole, and the pulpit in particular, must challenge the mind of this generation, else we betray our trust. The average young person today actually surrenders the intellect to the world, presuming Christianity to be bereft of it. Many a pulpit has succumbed to the lie that anything intellectual cannot be spiritual or exciting.

Thankfully there are exceptions. When living in England, our family attended a church Pastored by Roy Clements, one of the finest preachers in the western world. Every Sunday at two morning services he preached a one-hour sermon to a packed auditorium.

Cambridge, being rife with skepticism, demanded a meticulous defense of each sermon text from the assaults of liberalism. An introduction of a technical nature would take up to 15 minutes of his time before he entered into the heart of his message.

I mention this to say one thing. When we were leaving Cambridge, Nathan, who was nine years old, declared the preaching of Roy Clements to be one of his fondest memories. Even as a little boy he had learned that when the mind is rightly approached, it filters down to the heart. The matter I share here has far-reaching implications.

We do an inestimably great disservice to our youth by not crediting them with the capacity to think. We cannot leave this uncorrected.” (Ravi Zacharias, “The Dying Art of Thinking”, 1992)

Thank you for your interest in The GAP Report. I respectfully hope the content acts as a catalyst to continually challenge you to come to terms with your existing philosophical, personal and / or business presuppositions as means of remembering, revitalizing, rejoining, and renewing in your life!

It is the vision and desire of DOZIER + COMPANY, “To help bring about professional and personal renewal via clarity of purpose and a passion to act—in organizations and peoples lives.”

John O. Dozier, Jr., President and Coach
Dozier & Associates

I dearly hope Ravi’s superbly and lovingly thought-out thinking and advice find a place in your mind, heart, and life-lived-out. “The dying art of thinking” has never been more rampant than in our day. So many words, so little thought… like a vast sea of nothingness, it’s not easy to avoid drowning in the [apparent] meaninglessness of the day.


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