DLGP

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

Rethinking My Role in a Right World

Written by: on October 21, 2021

If we scratch just a little bit beneath the surface, maybe I am not as wise and thoughtful as I initially thought. What leads me to such thinking beyond a general observation of my existence? Kahneman so lovely argued, “Our comforting conviction that the world makes sense rests on a secure foundation: our almost unlimited ability to ignore our ignorance.”[1]

I know that we are not supposed to write about how much we do not like a book for this course, but what about if we genuinely love this one? 

Kahneman helps shape our understanding of our impulsive and logical systems of thinking, labeling them “System One” and “System Two.” System One is our fast and automatic way of thinking based on our body’s instinctive survival mechanism, while System Two is our more sophisticated way of thinking deliberately and effortfully. 

Every day we are presented with opportunities by which our mind naturally kicks into either system, one requiring cognitive ease and one requiring strain. Many of our decisions, Kahneman stated, are cognitive allusions by which we believe we have made a sophisticated decision at the moment. Still, it is an after-the-fact justification with reasoning from System Two. 

Kahneman’s confirmation shook me that we merely believe what already want to be true or what is reinforced by the “trusted voice” in our lives; “A reliable way to make people believe in falsehoods is frequent repetition, because familiarity is not easily distinguished from truth.”[2]

As I reflect on where our world is today, I wonder if this book should be required reading for everyone. How divided are our country, communities, families, and churches? We have drawn ideological lines in the sand, defining who is right and wrong, who to trust and disregard. 

The theological, social, economic, racial, and political landscape is so diametrically imposed that too many people are putting their proverbial fingers in their ears and screaming “La, la, la,” so that they don’t have to listen to those they consider to be the village idiot. 

If this is American in 2021, do we think the church is immune from derision and division? Every Sunday, when I step up to the pulpit, I’m tasked with preaching the Gospel, nurturing souls, and pointing people to the way of Jesus among people who have already made up their minds on their worldviews. What kind of defeatist task is set before me?

Maybe the pulpit isn’t the end all be all. Perhaps the pulpit is just a portion of my opportunity to foster relationships with people who are just trying to do their jobs, solve their life problems, take care of their families, and figure this life thing out. Maybe the best way to help people make sound theological decisions is by living alongside them, encouraging them to understand their basic instincts and impulses, reconsidering truth from a different perspective, and affirming their capacity to live into their God-given personhood. Perhaps the best way is to equip people to stop living into the falsehood that we have to be right about everything all the time.  

[1] Kahneman, Daniel. Thinking, Fast and Slow. (Doubleday: Canada, 2011)

[2] Ibid. 

About the Author

mm

Andy Hale

CBF Podcast Creator and Host, Senior Pastor of University Baptist Church (Baton Rouge, Louisiana), & Professional Coach

12 responses to “Rethinking My Role in a Right World”

  1. Love this humble reflection Andy. I admire your courage to step up to the pulpit each Sunday and yet your system 2 thinking that perhaps another medium is needed. Have you had moments in the past two years where you saw a parishioner shift from their worldview and consider another? In other words, what is an example of significant shift you’ve witnessed in a person, and what was the medium/conduit that facilitated that shift?

    • mm Andy Hale says:

      Michael, great questions.

      It would be hard to measure this as the pandemic has limited the types of experiences we have had together in the last 18-months. However, I have certainly had some members who indicated the questions I asked in a sermon about socio-political views have challenged them to consider a different perspective.

      By far, the greatest shift I have seen is how members view racism. Considering this State was the last to force the public integration of schools, they are a lot more behind than they care to admit. But a lot of my people are “sound thinking” white people who consider themselves to be “woke” but don’t know what to do about it except condemn those that aren’t. So we have had some interesting development on how their new way of thinking can turn into justice and equity.

  2. mm Jonathan Lee says:

    Hi Andy,

    I loved this book too, but I have to read it over many more times to fully absorb the dense material. I loved your description of living in a “La, la, la” land. I see, including myself, all too many are influencing one another in polarized opinions that it hinders our decision making. For me, one of the greatest challenge in speaking at the pulpit every Sunday is to getting through a very diverse and polarized audience and be able to connect. Can you share some things that was helpful for you in connecting to the audience in “affirming their capacity to live into their God-given personhood”?

  3. mm Troy Rappold says:

    Great essay Andy. I can relate well to how Kahneman points out to us that we remain ignorant to our own ignorance. As I continue to get older, I have a better sense my own mistaken opinions when I was younger. But in my youth I was so sure of my closely held attitudes. Getting out of this type of thinking requires deliberate, purposeful thinking, as this book explains so well. And even though it’s hard work, it is worth the effort–and the reward is personal growth and maturity.

  4. mm Roy Gruber says:

    Andy, I share you concern about the role of primary communicator in a church setting where political and social issues are strongly held. Most of the negative emails I have received recently have been after critiquing both sides of the political aisle. Since our state leans to the right, the pushback comes from that side alone. Increasingly, I understand the preaching role as persuasion about all things spiritual. My training focused on study and communication of content. I’m curious, which pastors have been most influential in your understanding of your role?

    • mm Andy Hale says:

      Roy,

      I learned a long time ago that one-off prophetic messages don’t change anyone. In fact, I think they entrench the passion of people who have already made up their minds on something. That’s not to say that the Spirit of God doesn’t move and work through and beyond our capacity as ministers of the Gospel.

      However, I have found a more successful spiritual formation model in preaching through utilizing stories and Gospel-centric text to point to the question I am asking us to consider. I managed to do an entire series around the election without talking about candidates or issues. It was a challenge for us to consider our responsibility as Jesus’ followers to seek truth, not vilify those we share common values, and follow Jesus instead of political demagogues.

      I’d say the most influential pastoral models are Eugene Peterson, Henri Nouwen, and Jacqui Lewis.

  5. mm Eric Basye says:

    Andy, so glad that you loved this book! Your first line is key, in my opinion; true humility to know that we are not as wise as we initially thought. The challenge is, how to do we step into leadership with growing confidence and courage, yet, knowing that we will miss the mark (or several marks!). Humility, raw dependence on the Lord, and His abundant grace. Press on in the pulpit!

  6. Kayli Hillebrand says:

    Andy, I believe that the description you paint in your final paragraph about living with people is a beautiful example of how we saw Christ live among the people. He absolutely stood and spoke to thousands, but I would imagine it was the small groups around the dinner table where he knew the most transformation was taking place. It was in the knowing of the people and their knowing of who he was — and the same for us today.

    I pray the Lord can continue to give you clarity and creativity in what takes places on a Sunday morning vs the rest of the week.

  7. mm Nicole Richardson says:

    Andy, I so appreciate how you offer the vulnerability on how this book challenged you. When we read Being Wrong last year I had the same kind of response you had to this one. I was reading through Proverbs at the same time last year…and wow! Talk about conviction!
    One thing I would challenge you on…you say that System 2 is sophisticated……I interpret it as lazy….potato potahto 🙂
    If you were to have a conversation with Friedman and Kahneman about preaching every Sunday what would they say?

    • mm Andy Hale says:

      Oh, that’s a brilliant scenario to consider. That’s a whole other essay.

      I’d think Kahneman would probably focus on self-reflection, asking people to truly consider what they believe and the filters by which they look at life, themselves, and others.

      Friedman, an ordained Rabbi, would derasha the heck out of emotional triangles and family systems but as a very non-anxious presence.

      • mm Nicole Richardson says:

        ROFL!
        I definitely agree Friedman would derasha! 🙂
        Regarding the pulpit, I have come to the conclusion that it is not the end all be all of the pastoral call. I
        agree with you that there are good reasons Kahneman would encourage us to consider the biases we have when we wrap preaching up in our identity. Wouldn’t Friedman contemplate the worship event as a hostile environment? (Thinking emoji)

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