25 Lessons in 25 Years – Lesson 4: Take Time to Think

In part 4 of this series I want to share a valuable lesson that is actually a discipline that I am still trying to master…the discipline of intentional thinking.

Because of the busyness of life and ministry I can tell you this, if you are not taking time for intentional thinking then it is probably not happening. If that is the case, there are probably brilliant ideas lingering in your mind just waiting for the opportunity to be released.

Years ago I read a book written by John Maxwell called “Thinking for a Change.”  That book made an impact on my life as it challenged me to be intentional about my thinking.

Thinking TimeLike I said, I have yet to master this discipline, but I know first hand how much more productive and resourceful my mind is when I schedule time to think. And that is one of the keys…“schedule time to think.” If it is not on your calendar, it probably will not happen.

It is like exercise. Whenever I exercise, I feel so much better. So why don’t I do it more consistently? It is a discipline. Disciplines begin with a single decision, that decision leads to a habit and the habit leads to a lifestyle.

Napoleon Hill said this, “More gold has been mined from the thoughts of men than has ever been taken from the earth.” There are great ideas and solutions to problems in the mind God gave you. But we have to “mine them out.” So how do you mine those great ideas from your mind?

I will share a very simple practice with you. I am not saying this is the only way to structure thinking, but this is what works for me. It will probably take some experimenting to find what works for you, but here is my pattern.

  1. As I look at my week, I will find one day where I can set aside one hour to dedicate to thinking. I have to admit, there are weeks that I don’t follow through with that scheduled hour, but it is on my radar. You have to treat that “thinking appointment” with high priority; otherwise every little problem will be a distraction.
  2. I take only a notebook and a pen. The reason I do this is to limit the distractions that come with electronics. Sometimes, I will take my Bible.
  3. I find a place to think other than my office. Sometimes I will go to a quiet place outside and other times Barnes & Noble. It just depends on my objectives for the thinking time.
  4. I open the notebook and just start writing whatever comes to my mind. I call this the “brain dump.” I have to get all the to do lists, projects, phone calls I know I need to return, etc. out of my mind and onto the page. This process may take up to 45 minutes of my scheduled one hour of thinking time. But once those things are on paper, my subconscious releases the “urgent matters” and the creative thoughts start to roll out.

It is amazing how many good ideas can come to your mind in a matter of minutes once you get in the right environment and give your mind an opportunity to focus.

Take time to think. You will be surprised what your God given mind can do when you give it an opportunity.

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