Divergent Thinking

January 24, 2020


Mark Batterson Weekly Devo

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In the early years of the Head Start program, a study was conducted involving sixteen hundred children who were tested in a wide variety of categories, including divergent thinking. Convergent thinking is the ability to correctly answer a question that doesn’t require creativity, just analytical intelligence. Divergent thinking is a very different animal. It’s the ability to generate creative ideas by exploring possible solutions.

When asked to come up with as many uses for a paper clip as possible, the average person can rattle off ten to fifteen uses. A divergent thinker can come up with about two hundred. Both convergent and divergent thinking are critical for different kinds of tasks, but divergent thinking is a better predictor of Nobel Prize potential.

In the longitudinal study conducted by Head Start, 98 percent of children ages three to five “scored in the genius category for divergent thinking. Five years later . . . this number had plummeted to only 32 percent. . . . Five years later again . . . it was down to 10 percent.”

What happened during that decade? Where did divergent thinking go? And what does that have to do with the language of desires? Here’s my take: most of us lose touch with who we really are and what we really want. Instead of following our God-ordained desires in the direction of individuation, the voice of gladness is drowned out by the voice of conformity. And it may start the day you wear a pink shirt to junior high.

We worry way too much about what people think, which is evidence that we don’t worry enough about what God thinks. It’s the fear of people that keeps us from hearing and heeding the voice of God. We let the expectations of others override the desires God has put in our hearts. The net result? Those desires get buried about six feet deep. Eventually, we forget who we really are.

One of the most thought-provoking questions in the Gospels is this: “What do you want me to do for you?” In one sense the question seems unnecessary, because Jesus asks the question of a blind man. We can all guess his answer, right? He wants his sight, of course. So why does Jesus ask the question? The answer is simple: Jesus wants to know what we want.

If Jesus were to ask the average person walking into the average church, “What do you want Me to do for you?” I’d bet nine out of ten would have a hard time answering that question. Why? Because we’re out of touch with what we really want.

If you don’t know what you want, how are you going to know when you get it? Maybe it’s time to take inventory. What do you want God to do for you? You owe it to Him to answer that question.

Mark Batterson

Mark Batterson

Mark Batterson serves as lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington, DC. NCC also owns and operates Ebenezers Coffeehouse, The Miracle Theatre, and the DC Dream Center. Mark holds a doctor of ministry degree from Regent University and is the New York Times bestselling author of 17 books, including The Circle Maker, Chase the Lion, and Whisper. Mark and his wife, Lora, have three children and live on Capitol Hill.


  1. Chantel Walker on January 28, 2020 at 2:14 am

    Thanks Pastor! I want many things but I don’t know exactly what I want. I really need to take the time to figure out what it is I need to get what I want.

  2. J Carey Jones on January 28, 2020 at 7:02 am

    Met you some years ago at Anderson University where you spoke and had a book signing. I bought your book and didn’t just read it once but have read it and your other books numerous times. They are highlighted, underlined marked up and dog eared. With your permission we are going to start posting and boosting (if FB will let us) your Weekly Devotion on our Upstate South Carolina Facebook Page “The Main Street Program, Anderson, SC”. I am at a unique place in my walk with the Lord. God has led me to attend a small church in a very bad section of Anderson, SC. Most of those that attend South Main Chapel & Mercy Center are very poor and homeless. The Church is open every day but Saturday serving the community with hot meals, psychological help, health screening and other things. I love my little church and know I am supposed to be here. I await guidance from the Lord as to what his plan is for me other than financial assistance. I have been trying to move around and meet as many of the church goers during our meal times, after two years I think they are finally warming up to me a bit. I am older and have been blessed more than most so I am the odd one. The church has a Facebook Page – South Main Chapel & Mercy Center where they post our services. The needs are great but I have found that handouts are not the answer to multiple problems. I now understand what “The Church Being the Church” means. My wife, Rosemary, and I really got fed up with our prior churches and organized religion as a whole four or five years ago and Rosemary has not come back to the Church but she still has a strong personal relationship with Jesus. Please know that you have been used by the Lord to guide me to this loving Church and for that I am a better person. Thank you for sharing your journey, J Carey Jones, Jr

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