Thinkers and feelers who have the same end goal in mind can’t seem to get along.
I thought about that opening sentence being my headline, but I don’t like long headlines (long headlines used in the past not withstanding) because they make me think of either tabloids or The Onion.
Anyway, it’s been said that there are two kinds of people in this world: those who divide everyone into two categories and those who don’t. With that in mind, I’m going to be one of those people and divide most church-going people into two (quite possibly ill-named) categories: thinkers and feelers.
Being overly-generalizing, the thinkers are those who prefer to approach all matters of spirituality, faith or the church in terms of facts and figures. They really like apologetics, they tend to study their Bibles in an analytical and methodical fashion, and if given a choice they’re going to choose exegetical over topical every time when it comes to sermons.
Being an equal opportunity generalizer, the feelers prefer to approach the above from a standpoint of feelings. A song or hymn, for instance, is usually appealing to them more in terms of how it “affects the spirit” than for it’s musical precision or lyrical rhyme scheme.
Both of these groups—within the church, anyway—have a sincere desire to grow closer to God, to be good Christians, and to see the people around them won to Christ. Unfortunately, we spend most of our time with infighting, thwarting all three of those goals to one extent or another but—most especially—that one of winning others to Christ.
For instance, we recently went through Lee Strobel’s video series “The Case for Christ” at our church and discovered that “the thinkers” identified best with Lee and his analytical approach to “gospel discovery”: interviews, lots of reading, listed and annotated facts; while “the feelers” tended to identify more with Lee’s wife: not disdainful of the research, but more influenced by the movement of the Holy Spirit in a way that seems, to “the thinker”, to be pretty esoteric.
We had a good discussion Sunday night, but I’ve seen it too many times that the two groups can’t come together on this—and, you can tell, think little of the “opposing side” in the discussion (when, really, we shouldn’t even be in opposition). The feelers think the thinkers have taken all the joy and spirit out of experiencing God and, by inference, begin to doubt whether the thinkers have the Holy Spirit in their lives at all. The thinkers, at the same time, are thinking that the feelers have overemphasized non-quantifiable feelings to the point that they are no longer thinking at all and—by inference—are probably easily swayed in their thinking because they aren’t really thinking at all. This, of course, is seen by anyone on the outside of the discussion as just one more thing to turn them off about church and faith.
I am pretty sure I fall into the “thinking” camp, but I am frequently reminded that I need the feelers. I can get so wrapped up in my facts and figures that, while well informed, I start to become short on things like joy and compassion (even while being more convinced than ever before of the “facts of the gospel”). The feelers I know, I am sure they need us thinkers around, too, so that their feelings don’t get carried away and overwhelm the gospel message.
[One of the problems, though, is that we’re both so convinced that our way is the right way that we begin to think we a] don’t need the other side because 2] our way is so perfect it won’t allow us to stumble.]
We’re told that iron sharpens iron, but if you’re sharpening a blade an even better substance is flint. Maybe we need some iron around to keep us strong, but we also need some people around us who are striving for the same goal but built fundamentally different from us.