January 24, 2020
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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 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.