"You think too much."
I was not being chastised for being introspective - although I am introspective. I was being chastised for reading.
In an effort to improve my writing, I am attempting to follow the advice of successful writers who graciously share their wisdom with newbies like me. I have read the advice of such gifted writers as J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, and J. K. Rowling, and without exception, every one of them has said: Read. Read lots of books. Read lots of kinds of books.
Stephen King put it bluntly: "You have to read widely...If you don't have the time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that."
But this is not a post about writing, or about reading. It is a post about thinking.
My friend's problem was not particularly with the fact that I was reading: her problem was with what I was reading. If I had been reading the latest New York Times best-seller or a cheesy romance, she would not have been concerned. But my book list included several titles of theology, doctrine, history, biography...you know, heady, brainiac stuff. The kind of books that make a person think.
I did not choose these titles because I naturally prefer this kind of writing. Personally, I love fiction. Fiction goes down easy, like sweet tea on a hot day. Working through even a small volume on some doctrinal issue, however, is for me a slow process that requires great effort. It is work. Brain work.
My friend's point was: Why on earth would I want to exercise my brain - why would I want to do the difficult work of thinking - when there are so many other pleasanter things to do with my time? And furthermore, why would I want to risk the stigma of being identified as a thinker, a nerd, a brainiac, by reading books like that?!
Brace yourself: I'm going to shift gears hard...
Are you familiar with the Parable of the Talents? In Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus tells a parable about three servants whose master went on a journey. Before leaving, he entrusted his property to his servants: to one, he gave five talents; to the second, two talents; and to the third, one talent. These servants were responsible for managing their master's property until he returned.
When the master returned, the first servant, who had invested the money entrusted to him, gave to his master not five talents, but ten. The master was understandably pleased, and rewarded this servant accordingly. The second servant did likewise, presenting his master with not two talents, but four. The master was pleased with this servant, too. The third servant, however, buried the talent entrusted to him and had nothing to hand back to his master upon his return except the one talent he had been given. In this man's case, the master was NOT pleased. Rather than rewarding the servant for at least keeping his one talent safe, the master punished this lazy, cowardly man.
"Well," you ask, "what does all of this have to do with thinking, Camille?"
I'm getting there...
Now, back up a couple of chapters in the book of Matthew. In Matthew 22:36-38 we read -
"And one of them, a lawyer, asked [Jesus] a question to test him. 'Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?' And [Jesus] said to him, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.'" (emphasis added)
Again, over in Luke 10:27, we read: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself."
And in Romans 12:2, we read: "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind..."
In 2 Timothy 3, we read about weak women who are easily led astray because they cannot discern truth...they cannot think correctly.
Paul reproves the "foolish Galatians" who are likewise unable to discern truth and who are bewitched by false teachers. Paul challenges them to stop being foolish and to engage their minds!
God, it seems, cares very much about what we do with our minds.
"Where are you going with this?" you ask.
Where I'm going is...
Every thing I possess in this life comes to me from God. Everything. My faith heritage. My family culture. My life experiences. My gifts - writing, speaking, etc. My financial resources. My opportunities. My personality. My body. Everything.
This includes my brain. This includes my mind.
Everything I possess has been given to me by God to be invested for his kingdom. Everything. My desire should be, when He asks, to give everything back to him with interest.
Maybe, like my friend, you think brain work - developing your mind - is a waste of time. Maybe you feel like a five-talent encourager, a three-talent giver and one-talent intellectual...makes sense, then, to focus on encouraging and giving and forget about the mind stuff, right?
Well, No. God commands us to love him with everything we've got - with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind - not just with our favorite things or the things we're good at or the things that come easily to us.
If you feel like you have a one-talent brain, I want to encourage you: invest that one talent well. I don't think God is going to be upset if you don't grow into a Jonathan Edwards or an Albert Einstein, but I do believe He cares very much that you grow.
God doesn't ask you and me to invest the resources He has not given us, but to invest the resources He has given us, all of the resources He has given us, for his kingdom.
So, in response to my friend's indictment - "You think too much." -
No, sweet sister, I do not think nearly enough. But I am laboring to think more.
4 months ago