Monday Memo: Objective Thought

Terry Walton


Objective Thought

I Was Thinking…

Objective – not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts.

Subjective – based on or influenced by personal feelings, tastes, or opinions. (Oxford Languages)

As I observe our world, our church, our relationships, our spiritual maturing, I see a need for ‘objective’ thought.  ‘Subjective thought’ seems rampant and without challenge.  Birds of a feather are not just sticking together; they are flying on each other’s backs.

I haven’t always appreciated the ‘objective’ voices in my life, yet without them, I am convinced my soul development would have been stunted. In fact, there have been moments in my life where spiritual growth was stunted because I set up residence in a subjective echo chamber…only wanting to hear ‘echoed’ my own thoughts, opinions, and decisions.  

We all need persons who are for us and will be on ‘our side’ regardless of the circumstance…but if everyone around us is ‘subjective thinking’ on our behalf, then our world view becomes narrow…and as someone once touted, “God can do very little with narrow-minded people.”

I remember being almost overwhelmed with discouragement and wondered if ministry was for me.  I am thankful that I had an uncle in which I confided. It was his compassionate and objective response that gave me a perspective that I could not see while peering into my situation alone. His objectivity changed the trajectory of my thinking, living, and future. Who is your compassionate objective thinker?

I am so thankful for a group of clergy who have journeyed ministry with me for almost 40 years. We have been objective thinkers for each other. They never let me get away with the proverbial ‘stinking thinking’ that can so easily enter my thoughts and thus bear its fruit in unhealthy decision-making. ‘Stinking thinking’ smells! Its aroma taints everything around us. In those smelly moments of life, we need someone to tell us that it stinks…and that there is a sweeter aroma waiting on us…especially if we carefully listen to our ‘compassionate objective thinkers’.

Subjective thinkers around me are helpful but they cannot be the only thinkers giving my life input.  Sometimes I have needed an objective thinker to look me straight in the eye and say “Stop your whining! You are a child of God. You are loved and so are those folks that you deem add to your frustration. Get over yourself!” (Don’t we just hate it when someone tells us the truth in a direct and passionate way? I know I do…but soon, I realize the tongue lashing of truth is exactly what I needed).

It was Martin Luther King, Jr. who said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

It was the Gospel writer John who wrote, “What has come into being in ‘Jesus’ was life, and life was the light of all people. The light shines in darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it” (1:3b-5 NRSV)

What is darkness? Darkness is a lot of things…it is ‘stinking thinking’…it is subjective thinking all alone…it is setting up residence in our own ‘echo chamber’…it is narrow-minded…it is frustration gone wild…it is evil subtly at work in our lives.  

What overcomes darkness? Darkness is overcome with objective thinking, and accountability that is compassionate and truthful. Warning:  Jesus was an objective thinker who came to be compassionate and offer truth, AND look what happened to him! Truth is sometimes hard to accept!  It is for me…maybe you too!  Let us find mature objective thinkers and listen carefully to their insight into our lives and souls…It just might change the trajectory of our thinking, living, and our future. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayers.

Always Thinking…

The Rev. Dr. Terry E. Walton
Executive Assistant to the Bishop 

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