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

My Son Thinks This Book Saved Him From Having To Go Into The Army

Written by: on November 2, 2017

Drill Seargant Major Payne [1]

Please allow me a little leeway to use a personal real life situation to help write my blog this week. I believe I will be able to connect  our most recent book, The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts and Tools, by Richard Paul and Linda Elder, with my son Josiah’s daily drama…

I read, and re-read a second and THIRD time (because it was wonderfully compact), this challenging but helpful mini guide. Knowing that I need practice and improvement in the area of critical thinking, I decided I was going to immediately put to use my newfound skill in critical thinking to good use on that very day.

Enter an energetic United States Army Recruiter who sat at our kitchen table to try to talk my son into receiving some much needed discipline, courtesy of Uncle Sam. I was all ears as the camouflage (my favorite color), crop topped, and confident Army Man laid out his best case. It went something like this:

“The first thing you do in the Army, is boot camp. I want you to know, boot camp is really just like an extended camping trip. Do you like camping?” To which my son replied, “I love camping! But what about all the drill sergeants, don’t they yell at you a lot?” Creatively, Army Man immediately responds, “They don’t yell at you any more. They found out it works a lot better to be like your best friend. Would you like to go on a camping trip with your best friend?” Without batting an eye, my son counters, “I don’t want to be in the Army!”

The conversation turns on a dime, as Army man impressively absorbs that last punch, and asks my son what his favorite sport is. My son immediately says soccer, so Army Man goes in for another shot, “You will be in the best shape of your life after the Army. Push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, jogging. You will be in soccer shape before you know it. Just like Physical Education class. Do you like PE class?” My son grimaces and says, “I hate PE. I am six feet, four inches tall and weigh a buck-forty-five. I have never done a single pull-up in my entire life, and I don’t want to be in the Army.”

Army Man has no idea what he is up against. And obviously, he is not willing to take no for an answer. I use my first new critical thinking skill to deduce this. The tension in the room is rising. I think to myself, “This poor guy has not met his recruiting quota for the month. Here it is the 29th of the month, and he is desperate.”

So, there is one final last ditch attempt by Army Man, who loudly proclaims, “You’re military ASVAB test scores were off the chart. We really want smart young men like you in the United States Army!” Would you please consider serving your country? You can get any job you would like after we pay for your college!” At this point I am trying not to laugh. I can feel my insides about ready to burst. Army Man has just said two of my son’s least favorite words in his closing argument–JOB and COLLEGE. He should have said something like MOVIES and MOUNTAIN DEW.  Exasperated, my son, with even more volume than Army Man, yells, “I DO NOT WANT TO BE IN THE ARMY!”

Amazingly, Army Man whispers to my wife and I as he tucks his tail and heads for the door, “I don’t need his answer today. I will call him tomorrow to see if he wants in.” I about fell over in hysterics.

Albert Einstein [2]

Here is my point with this whole true story, and here is how I am going to connect our book with it. Our authors immediately told us to analyze and evaluate, saying a well cultivated critical thinker, “Raises vital questions..comes to well reasoned conclusions, and communicates in figuring out solutions…” [3] Just like Einstein’s picture above. It raises all kinds of good questions. “Why is he sticking his tongue out” and “Where did he get all that hair.” But even more critically, “Where in the world is 6 minus 3 equal to 6?”

I was evaluating every word Army Man was selling to my son. “Camping trip. Drill Sergeants don’t yell. They want to be your best friend.”  Yeah right, this is balderdash! All my warning alarms were going off that Army Man was not totally truthful and I analyzed he was never, not in a million years, going to get my son to sign up telling these tall tales.

That is when I came up with this thought, “The opposite of critical thinking is being gullible.” Like believing every thing you read just because it was on the World Wide Web. We would be wise to question more, to verify everything, and not instantly believe everything we hear, especially third or fourth hand.

I really appreciated the authors stating, “All reasoning is done from some point of view and is based on your original assumptions.” [4] Yes! It depends on your original point of view. And all of us make assumptions before we begin research or before we even crack open a book.

It was then that I learned my most valuable lesson from this miniature guide, “Much of our thinking, left to itself, is biased, distorted, partial, uniformed or down-right prejudiced.” Ouch! But very true. However, I think he is only mostly right. A major word I disagreed with in this sentence was MUCH.  I think ALL would have been a better word. ALL thinking, left to itself, is biased, distorted, partial, uniformed and down-right prejudiced.

Yes, I am biased, uniformed, prejudiced. This is why I want to improve in this area of critical thinking and problem solving. In my research of Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, I have to be careful and avoid being too biased after starting 42 FPU classes. I need to be informed as to what generosity looks like scripturally, and be completely honest about my personal prejudices when researching Biblical stewardship practices.

Then I will be able to take my interpretations and draw proper conclusions in my research. [6] And with a half million copies sold, and 72% of customers on “Discover New Books” giving it a 4 or 5 for their review, I concur this was a worthwhile buy and a valuable resource for the future.



[1] Licea, Alex. 8 Life Lessons Learned from ‘Major Payne’ (We Are Mighty Website: April 28, 2017)

[2] Roger, Morgan. Did Albert Einstein Smoke Weed? (Civilized.Life Website: August 9, 2017)

[3] Richard Paul and Linda Elder, The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking: Concepts and Tools (Foundation for Critical Thinking, 2006, Thinkers Guide Library). p. 42-43.

[4] Ibid., p. 51.

[5] Ibid., p. 29.

[6] Ibid., p. 238.

About the Author

Jay Forseth

Superintendent of the Western Conference of the Evangelical Church. Blessed with 28 years as the husband of my amazing wife who I can't make it without. Now three of four in our family are attending University, but both my children are way smarter than me.

17 responses to “My Son Thinks This Book Saved Him From Having To Go Into The Army”

  1. Jennifer Williamson says:

    Hey Jay, loved the story about your son. And I think you have some good self-awareness going on about your project. Clearly you have a favorable bias for FPU (we love it, too!) and so looking at it critically may be a challenge. Have you found any articles that are critical of Dave Ramsey or the FPU program? Despite being a fan of it yourself, do you see any weaknesses or problems with it? How have you already been able to think critically about FPU?

    • Jay Forseth says:

      Great questions Jenn, and yes, I have found many articles critical of FPU. Mostly, they disagree with investment strategies or in Dave’s in-your-face answers, who some perceive as mean.

      I am a big fan of FPU, however I feel that Larry Burkett did a better job, back in the day, regarding tithing and getting the foundations in a firmer standing. So, yes, I am thinking more critically about the class.

      Thanks for your questions!

  2. M Webb says:


    I felt like I was sitting at your kitchen table listening to this exchange between the Army recruiter and your son. A critical thinker asks, “Who invited the Army Man to make the pitch to your son?” If you were the one who scheduled or invited, and knowing your son’s strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, I wonder “why?” Likewise, I suspect you have developed your Ramsey FPU bias well before finishing your 42nd FPU class introduction. Again, inquiring minds want to know why? I’m sure that will be a portion of your problem description and background on Ramsey and FPU, but nevertheless curious.

    Stand firm,

    M. Webb

    • Jay Forseth says:

      Mike, I accidentally posted my response in the wrong place. Not sure if my responses get back to you, but here goes…

      Actually, Army Man invited himself into our home. And when I found out he was coming, I was kind of excited because I thought he might help bring some discipline to my son. I may need a disciplined pilot like yourself to help me now that Army Man is out of the picture.

  3. Jean Ollis says:

    Hi Jay,
    Your Army recruiter story is great! I have to tell you, I’m doing my own analysis on your use of the word “uniformed” throughout your post – I think you intended to say uninformed, but what a pun considering you were telling a story about Army man! Maybe it was intentional? It’s too bad Josiah isn’t interested in the military – it can be a great option for young people…
    So, on to Ramsey. You’ve selected an interesting research topic – I’m curious how you define scriptural generosity to your congregation?

    • Jay Forseth says:

      Hi Jean,

      I think I said uniformed because of what he was wearing, but I now like uninformed better (grin).

      As to your question, I define generosity first with tithes and offerings to the local church, but on a bigger scale, I define generosity to include Time, Talents, AND Treasures!

  4. Chris Pritchett says:

    Jay, this was hilarious! Wow. Where to begin?! I can’t believe that really happened. I’m actually really envious of you for getting to be at that table to witness that feeble attempt at selling the Army to your son. Did that really happen? Ok, well, I must say, there is no way the guy was wearing a crop top. I will consider that a little Hollywood flavor, illustrative seasoning, right? But to the content, thank you for sharing the story and for how you connected it with the book. You named “gullible” as the opposite of critical thinking, and surely your son is not gullible!

    • Jay Forseth says:

      Chris, I have to admit I probably put too much drama into my story telling, but it really did happen. When I said crop top, I was showing my ignorance on hair styles. I honestly thought crop top was really short hair all the way around, but my wife just told me I was way off (grin). I think you were using good critical thinking skills by asking that!

  5. Dave Watermulder says:

    I loved reading this post! I was just involved in a family military recruiting situation this week, so it was totally ringing bells for me! I really appreciated how you applied the reading to your life/family situation and how interesting it was to read. I think you are wise to see in yourself those predispositions and natural biases as you start your work.

  6. Greg says:

    Like everyone else that has commented, I felt like a fly on the wall in your kitchen listening to the recruiter give his pitch. I have had “pitches” for various jobs or ministries through the years and felt that several time that reality and truth were stretched a bit. It is amazing the attempts in our own life and contexts to shape reality to what we think it should be conveyed as. As recruiters for our own goals have we fallen in some of the same traps as this Army guy, when pressing others into new opportunities? Contrasting critical thinking with gullible was an interesting thought. I was looking at it with the eyes of open and closed mindedness, rather than easily convinced or not. Good thoughts.

  7. Shawn Hart says:

    I remember my third day of basic training when the Colonel stood in front of a room of fresh Calvary Scout recruits and said, “17 minutes”. The long pause made me chuckle because at the age of 28, I knew where this conversation was heading. “17 minutes is the life expectancy of a Calvary Scout that doesn’t do his job.” Two young men started crying, a handful wanted to change their job choices, and still others were just in shock trying to figure out what they had been promised by their recruiters had turned into a terrifying “17 minutes.” Many years later, I was working in a Blockbuster Video when I had a woman whose son was going into Marine Boot Camp, come in to rent “Full Metal Jacket” so that she could understand what he was going to go through…not a good call!

    In regards to your post Jay, I was curious as to how you compare investigating the army option with your research into Dave Ramsey. Do you notice any similarities in your approach?

    • Jay Forseth says:

      Shawn, good question! I will be comparing Dave Ramsey’s FPU with Army Man in this way–don’t believe everything you hear, and ask a lot of follow up questions to give clarity to what has been presented. Like Mike Webb always says–Verify!

  8. I think you get the vote for most popular post this week Jay. ; ) Thanks for sharing the story which was creatively and humourously written.

    I thought Jennifer’s comment was a helpful idea for your research – finding articles and commentary that are negative about the FPU training would be beneficial. I hope you can find something that provides alternative perspectives.

    Also, I wonder what your own personal experience was with doing the FPU training? Did you personally experience an increase in generosity? Your own experience and POV (point of view) may influence the research. I don’t think that’s wrong, but it is good to be aware of and state it.

    • Jay Forseth says:

      Hi Mark,

      I actually talked to some folks at Ramsey Solutions this week, in their headquarter building. They have heard of my dissertation, so they were a little curious what I have found in my 42 classes like you. It is interesting, I have found that initially, generosity has DECREASED immediately after taking the class, probably because folks are concentrating so much on eliminating debt.

      By the way, I have found dissenting articles to FPU, and will be incorporating them into my research. Thanks for suggesting that!

  9. Jason Turbeville says:

    I loved your story of your son and your critical analysis of “Army Man’s” approach. Let me ask you this, if the recruiter was honest, this is hard work and will be the hardest thing you will do, do you think your son would have had a different reaction. If not, what would have. Just curious…
    I agree on your assessment that ALL thinking is biased and we all need to work on that aspect during our dissertations.

    • Jay Forseth says:

      I actually think my son would have been more open if Army Man would have been more honest. My son has a B.S meter that is off the charts, and it was red-lining. But pretty much no matter what, my son was not interested!

      Talk to you tomorrow on Zoom!

  10. Jay Forseth says:

    Actually, Army Man invited himself into our home. And when I found out he was coming, I was kind of excited because I thought he might help bring some discipline to my son. I may need a disciplined pilot like yourself to help me now that Army Man is out of the picture.

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