Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Intellectual and Intuitive Alertness

Written by: on October 24, 2021

Thinking Fast and Slow explains the two important “systems” that make up our mental faculties: intuition and reasoning, or as it is popularly described, the conscious and subconscious mind. The author describes these as “judgment and decision making[1]” shaped by psychological discoveries.  Building upon decades of previous psychological research, the book critically examines the intricate workings of the human intuition and reasoning in making decisions, and by extension, providing leadership. Divided into five parts, the book deals with several topics including, but limited to, the subjects of bias, overconfidence, and choices.

One crucial observation Kahneman makes is about the propensity of entrepreneurs towards taking risk. This resonates deeply with me because practically all the leaders I know that make a difference in various spheres of influence are individuals who take risks, albeit intelligent risks; yet sometimes at the expense of their lives. Mother Teresa, for example, risked her health by choosing to serve the lepers and outcasts of Calcutta. Yet history shows she made the right decision. As a leader in the missionary enterprise of the early church, Paul risked his life by choosing to proceed with the decision to go to Jerusalem, despite the warning of the Spirit that imprisonment and tribulation awaited him (Acts 20:17-24). Clifton and Badal explain that entrepreneurial risk-takers are often characterized by a “belief, sometimes exaggerated” in an innate ability to control the “destiny and future” of their venture.[2] For individuals who take risks because they are inspired by the Holy Spirit, it is clear that God is the One who controls their future.

Second, Kahneman highlights the importance of the intuition in decision making[3]. It is remarkable that Kahneman’s relatively recent research confirms what the Bible has proposed for a long time. Assuming intuition is the voice of our conscience, and in view of Paul’s statement, “… I always strive to have a clear conscience before God and man” (Acts 24:16), the need for a well-developed intuition among Christian leaders becomes evident. Unfortunately, as Richard Foster aptly points out in Celebration of Discipline, rather than lead deeply formed lives with well-developed intuitions, majority of the church only have a superficial relationship with the Lord[4]. Foster suggests that one important step towards reviving the intuition is by Biblical meditation[5].

In conclusion, Thinking Fast and Slow, presents a refreshing encouragement to this generation of readers and leaders to develop their intuition in their quest for effective decision making and transformational leadership.  This is important because the information age is one in which the emphasis is on reason, science, facts, figures. Yet as many followers of Jesus would agree, “there’s a way that seems right [as far as all the scientific data shows], but its end is the way of death” (Pro. 14:12). So while the book may not necessarily be categorized as theological or spiritual book, it successfully communicates a message with important spiritual significance.



[1] Kahneman, Daniel. Thinking Fast and Slow. (Farrar, Straus and Giroux: New York, 2013) p.7

[2] Clifton, Jim and Sangeeta Bharadwaj Badal. Entrepreneurial Strengthsfinder, (Gallup Press:  New York,2014) p.134

[3] Thinking Fast and Slow, p.14

[4] Foster, Richard. Celebration of Discipline. (Hodder & Stoughton: London, 1989) p.1

[5] Celebration, p.19


About the Author


Henry Gwani

Disciple, husband, father, community development practitioner and student of leadership working among marginalized communities in South Africa

2 responses to “Intellectual and Intuitive Alertness”

  1. mm Nicole Richardson says:

    Henry I so appreciate your attention to the strength of intuition as is applies to leadership. I also appreciate the recognition that one must work on fine tuning the intuition. I am not sure the connection between conscience and intuition. Can you share more as to the ways you see them as the same? Also for you, how do you see the connection between risk taking and intuition? My “intuition” says you are a risk taker….is this true?

  2. Elmarie Parker says:

    Thank you, Henry, for your insightful reflection on Kahneman’s work. I really appreciate the conversation you offered between Kahneman, Foster, and Clifton and Badal. Your observation from Kahneman about the propensity of entrepreneurs towards taking risk grabbed my attention. As someone with an entrepreneural bent, I resonate with that observation. I’m curious how you would evaluate Kahneman’s integration of fast and slow thinking into his observation about entrepreneurs taking risks?

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