Those who think to talk very carefully measure their words in their minds before they let them escape from their mouths. Think-to-talkers tend to speak in short bursts, often in softer voices, and find themselves uncomfortable in the presence of long-winded friends.
They rarely get in trouble for what they say in the heat of the moment because in those heated moments they don’t say anything. Instead, they process information mentally and only when they know what they’re going to say do they circle back around and say it.
In contrast, talk-to-thinkers process their thoughts and the information around them as they speak. Talk-to-thinkers begin their reflections on a certain subject not knowing where it will go, and only in the process of speaking do they organize their thoughts and come to a conclusion.
They do sometimes get in trouble for what they say in the heat of the moment because they have to say something as part of figuring out how they feel about the matter at hand. Talk-to-thinkers become frustrated at their more reticent friends who often sit in silence trying to determine where the conversation should go next.
I am at the extreme end of the think to talk scale. Though my sermons come without notes, there is very little there that I haven’t figured out and planned ahead of time. Spontaneity is not my strength. And in personal conversation, I do my best to measure my words, to speak with clarity, and not to ramble.
My dear friend and beloved teammate Chris Macedo is on the extreme end of the talk to think scale. It’s why he can start to talk about something and five minutes later announce, “and so THAT’S what I think about it . . . ” Our different wiring is one reason our partnership works as well as it does.
But here’s why I give you all that background (and I guarantee you will spend the rest of today placing people into one of those two categories):
Over the past week, I’ve led a completely talk to think kind of life.
First, I had a conversation with our Discipleship Director Chris Thayer (a think-to-talker if there ever was one) about an upcoming sermon. I was having difficulty figuring out how I wanted to say what I wanted to say and as I often do, I asked Chris to help me. Usually we’ll finish talking, I’ll go back & brood, and VOILA the sermon will come. Not this time. We were speaking through the issue, a collection of words came out of my mouth and I realized, “That’s it! That’s how I want to say what I want to say!”
Second, I had that exact same experience in the middle of one of the one-on-one discipleship meetings I do throughout the week. I sure didn’t know where the conversation was headed when it started, but I was delighted with where it ended up.
Third, towards the end of the week, my wife Julie and I took a completely unplanned, spontaneous mini-vacation. We came up with idea one afternoon and were gone the next morning. In almost 30 years of marriage that’s never happened before.
Finally — and perhaps most importantly — in church yesterday my role was to give the invitation to a living relationship with Jesus Christ in our closing moments. I didn’t preach — the extraordinary Defining Moments short film did that for me — but at the video’s conclusion I went to the platform and gave people some prompts to respond.
And I didn’t give the content of that invitation one thought all week. I didn’t script it, didn’t mull it, didn’t rehearse it.
I wanted to gauge the response to the film in the room — to feel the pulse of the gathered community — and then tailor my words accordingly.
So that’s what happened. And on this extemporaneous day that culminated a week of spontaneity, God did the rest.
I talked to think and the Father then took over at 8:30, 10, and 11:30. Decisions for Jesus galore.
I’m ready to enter back into my think to talk world — it’s so hardwired in me that I really can’t help it — but from now on I’ll keep my eyes and even my mouth open for opportunities to meander into the sheer craziness of talking to think.
Here’s the Defining Moments short film that was our sermon yesterday: