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

Those who I thought were NOT but in fact they WERE

Written by: on March 19, 2024



Please forgive me. I am writing about “Why We Are Wrong About Nearly Everything” on a long-haul flight, so this blog will have a very short supply of cross-referencing with other sources.

In a world where so many people are seemingly so sure about what they believe and why, Bobby Duffy’s book is refreshingly honest and insightful. Whether it be his candid description of his non-focus on “niche stupidity”[1] or practical explorations for the reasons behind our delusions,[2] Duffy, a leading public policy researcher, has hit the jackpot if he is aiming to help thought leaders usurp the status quo of popular thinking in society. In an age where social media algorithms are dictating group-think silos and where ignorance, despite a greater degree of access to information is available, Duffy’s research is not without merit. Offering “hope”[3] in the melee of witlessness seems to be Duffy’s bent, and he achieves it for the reader looking to combat the base thought of the masses. The book, however, is not just for the more discerning reader; it’s a warning for us all. The clue is in the title of the book. His connection between our delusions and decision-making is a stark reminder that we are all susceptible to being wrong. It is both reassuring and alarming. That he cites Kahneman, Thinking Fast and Slow [4] on fourteen separate occasions, reinforces the need for a leader/learner/human to engage systems 1 and 2 in all decision-making, reinforcing that system 1 is often wrong. We need the space and time to process everything, we are likely wrong.

Before highlighting two specific aspects of the book that have great appeal, there are two areas of weakness. Firstly, by the author’s own admission, only thirteen countries have given sufficient data[5] for a true global theory of human misunderstanding, or misperception index, to be acknowledged. Perhaps Kuwait rates less than 5%, and Sweden itself is embarrassingly high on the index. Secondly, and more significantly, Duffy does not consider issues of a spiritual nature and more importantly, the operation of the Holy Spirit and the accompanying gifts of the Spirit in 1 Corinthians 14. While this aspect would potentially not sway the data recorded in formal research polls, if at all, there certainly is hope for the Christian leader who is attuned to the Spirit’s leading.

Duffy’s book has two significant areas of interest. Firstly, I resonate wholeheartedly with the Dunning-Kruger effect.[6] Of it, he writes about the illusory superior bias and our tendency to think we’re better than others, stating that “People with low abilities are more likely to view themselves as competent than people with higher abilities.”[7] I must admit to having suffered from this effect in my younger years as a minister. Raised as a Pentecostal in a Pentecostal movement, I assumed, very wrongly, that we had the monopoly on understanding and experiencing the Holy Spirit. That was until my early 20s when I moved from Australia to England with my new bride and met, for the first time, some of the very significant leaders within the charismatic stream of the Church of England. I was blown away by their sensitivity to the Holy Spirit and how they operated in the Fruit and Gifts of the Spirit. After some years of knowing them, I began to joke with them that they were more Pentecostal than many Pentecostal churches and Pastors. While vigorous banter ensued, the Clergy clad, traditional-looking and sounding ministers still humble me with how they move in the things of the Spirit. To me, my lack of exposure, learning and academic insight as a young man led to the statement, “People with low abilities are more likely to view themselves as competent than people with higher abilities”[8] to be true.

Secondly, the results of MIT’s research into the power of what we see are of particular interest to a leader. He writes, “Our critical reasoning skills are less likely to engage when we see rather than read.”[9] The phrase “A picture is worth a thousand words” was coined by Arthur Brisbane in 1911, the truth of which, as a summary version of the MIT research, cannot be overstated. Perhaps this is why social media has had such a vast impact on the Herd Mentality[10] today. Learners are no longer compelled to read; they can look at the pictures and algorithms of the unseen bots present on social media. Pictures without context are as bad, perhaps worse, than unreferenced academic papers. However, as visionary leaders in a church context, the MIT research presents opportunities to rethink “Vision Sundays” amongst other areas of church leadership. In the last 10-15 years, vision Sundays have become a regular, annual tradition in the Pentecostal/Charismatic church world. Vision is presented, often in the context of a sermon, and while visuals are often used in association, I wonder if more can be made of the “Picture that is worth a thousand words.” Clearly, images presented to us go through our own individual filters of reasoning. The presentation of Vision needs to address both the filters of reason and inspire the imagination of the church members. How we address the personal filters and inspire simultaneously may account for some of the reasons why, as pastors, we encounter Everett Roger’s diffusion of Innovations [11] at work. As pastors, it’s always been a dream to work with Roger’s first three categories, the Innovators, Early Adaptors and Early Majority, but we can struggle with the last two, Late Majority and Laggards. I wonder if a more effective use of images on Vision Sundays could have a greater impact on Roger’s last two categories of church attendees. Food for thought.

I found Bobby Duffy’s book an easy, fun-to-read book. His insightful analysis and engaging anecdotes offer a refreshing perspective on why we misunderstand crucial issues by challenging conventional thinking and unravelling the mysteries behind human misperception. I will recommend the book as a tool for empowering readers to navigate a world inundated with misinformation with clarity and understanding.

[1] Duffy, Bobby. Why We’re Wrong About Nearly Everything. New York: Basic Books, 2019. 5.

[2] Ibid, 20.

[3] Ibid, 21.

[4]  Kahneman, Daniel. 2012. Thinking, Fast and Slow: Daniel Kahneman. 1st edition. London: Penguin. 44.

[5] Duffy, 211.

[6] Ibid, 215.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid, 187.

[10] Ibid, 32.

[11] Rogers, Everett. Diffusion of Innovations: 5th ed. New York: Free Press. 2005.


About the Author


Glyn Barrett

I am the founding, Lead Pastor of !Audacious Church in Manchester, England. I was born in Manchester, but moved to Australia at the age of two. My wife and I were married in Australia and began married and ministry life in England 28 years ago. After serving as youth pastors for 12 years, we moved to Manchester to pioneer !Audacious Church. As a church we now have 7 locations. 3 in Manchester, Chester, Cardiff (Wales), Sheffield, and Geneva (Switzerland). In 2019 I became the National Leader of Assemblies of God in Great Britain. We have over 600 churches in our movement and have planted 50 new churches since May 2022 with a goal of planting 400 new churches between May 2022 and May 2028. I am the European Lead for MM33, which is the church planting ministry for Assemblies of God Global and also chair Empowered21 Western Europe. I'm happily married to Sophia, with two children, one dog and two motorbikes. I love Golf, coffee and spending time with friends. Looking forward to meeting you all, and creating new friendships.

8 responses to “Those who I thought were NOT but in fact they WERE”

  1. Adam Cheney says:

    I also grew up in a non-denominational church, thinking we had the monopoly on pnuematology. However, our strong, biblical-based theology caused the church to put the Holy Spirit into a box and wrap him up tight. We didn’t want to let the Holy Spirit out of the box and allow him freedom to be loose, what could happen? The service might run long? The band might play an extra chorus!
    Honestly, it wasn’t until I moved to Kenya and saw the Holy Spirit let out of the box we had always kept him in that I began to see things a bit differently. I never knew that I was wrong about my perceptions about those who were always “spirit filled” and charismatic. Duffy gives us a good reminder that we often choose the easier path or the easier question rather than think through the parts of our theology that just don’t make sense.
    I never realized that our church kept the Holy Spirit wrapped up in a box, he just looked so perfect in there. I am learning to no longer box him in but instead allow him freedom to move in my life. I appreciate the learning from others I get to do in this forum.

    • mm Glyn Barrett says:

      Hi Adam. Yep, it’s exactly my experience. Noone ever said we had the monopoly of the Holy Spirit, and my Dad, if he was still alive would be shocked to hear me say it, though, I am sure he would agree.

  2. mm Ryan Thorson says:

    Thanks Glyn. I’m curious if you could say more about how images could help late adopters and laggards? In a world that is saturated with images, how do we utilize them persuasively in the church context?

    • mm Glyn Barrett says:

      That is the million-dollar question my friend. For our new church building development, we are planning to use VR Ocular goggles to give the church members a chance to have a walk-thru experience in advance of building. Perhaps, new technology can similarly help us with vision Sundays. I imagine it is an expensive technology to use on a semi-regular basis, however.

  3. Christy Liner says:

    Hi Glyn,

    From which country are you traveling to/from? Hoping it’s an enjoyable trip for you!

    I originally read through Duffy’s book from a personal perspective, but your post is reminding me to look at it from a leadership perspective. Not only am I often wrong, but those I am leading are as well.

    What lessons have you learned in helping those you lead see their delusions differently?

  4. mm Glyn Barrett says:

    Thanks, Christy. I was flying from Manchester to Springfield, Missouri, via Chicago. Home now. It was a great trip.
    As a preacher of 30 years, I can honestly say that your question summarises what preaching has been and continues to be. A preacher’s role, in part, is to present the truth of God to a world that lives without him. Hence, using the Word of God as the final authority in matters of faith has been the best tool, both in a leadership setting but also for life in general.
    Jesus often said, “You have heard it said, but I say unto you.” A preacher’s role is similar, “You have heard it said (by society), but God says…”

  5. mm Kari says:

    HI Glyn,

    I, too, felt like Duffy was missing the “Spirit-led” aspect of perception. What are ways you help those you lead to decipher between the Spirit and personal misconceptions?

    • mm Glyn Barrett says:

      I think the only way to accomplish this is by making sure we always and only use the Bible as the final authority for matters of faith. Where the bible is silent on matters, we should always make decisions based on the tenure of scripture. In doing so, I think we cover most bases.

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