Meditations of the Heart — The Mind

We are working our way through the 19:14 Model, which provides the basis for the Quick to Hear approach. Learning and implementing this approach can help make your communication more effective and God-honoring. If you would like to start the series from the first article, you can do so by going here.

Now, this whole process is really getting interesting. That’s how I think each time I teach this model and its predecessors. If you have been with me through the whole series, I hope you are feeling the same way. With this article, we continue our consideration of the four steps of Meditations of the Heart.  Last time, we considered the first step, “Listen.”  This time, we will consider using our minds in the communication process.

Model

If you have been following this series, I hope you took some time to do the practical exercise I suggested in the last article. Did you find that you really gain a great deal more useful information when you really listen and not worry about the response? The time to plan our response will come, but we should not skip preceding steps to get to it. When we skip too quickly to responding during the “Will” step, we have very little information with which to work. When we take our time and work through the steps, we will have plenty of useful information to guide our planning process.

1914 Model
19:14 Model

Meditations of the Heart

The second step as we consider the meditations of our hearts, is the mind. Keep in mind that we call this part of the model “Meditations of the Heart,” because in biblical language the “heart” often represents the totality of our inward life. Other times, when the Bible refers to the heart it is speaking of our feeling or emotional life. We use this aspect of biblical language too, when we call the third step of meditations, the heart. See the graphic of the model above.

These two central steps of proper meditations, the mind, and the heart are the key two steps of the whole process. The mind and the heart are central parts of our inner life. We see this in the Scriptures. For example, consider David’s request to God in the opening verses of Psalm 26,

Vindicate me, O Lord,

for I have walked in my integrity,

and I have trusted in the Lord without wavering.

Prove me, O Lord, and try me;

test my heart and my mind

or your steadfast love is before my eyes,

and I walk in your faithfulness (vv. 1-3, ESV).

David here suggests that an examination of his heart and mind is sufficient enough to reveal his faithfulness. Similar language appears elsewhere in Scripture, including in the Lord’s letter to Thyratira recorded in Revelation, where He reminds the church there that He “searches mind and heart” (2:23, ESV).

The Mind

So, let’s focus a little more on the mind. When we speak of the mind in the Quick to Hear approach, we are speaking primarily of thinking. In order to understand what others are communicating to us and respond properly, we have to use our minds. We must think about the message we have received and consider options as to how we respond.

Critical Thinking

The mind (thinking) step answers the question, “What could the information mean?” There are two things to keep in mind when using this step. The first is that thinking involves the creation of hypotheses as to what the information could mean. I chose the word hypothesis carefully. A hypothesis is a tentative assumption made in order to draw out and test it. We test our hypotheses as we apply all aspects of the 19:14 Model repeatedly.

The other aspect of critical thinking is implied by the first. Note that I used the plural hypotheses. We should create and consider more than one hypothesis as to the meaning of the message we receive. Having multiple hypotheses helps us to avoid potential issues like the primacy effect and belief perseverance. These are two key cognitive biases that can adversely impact your thought processes and skew our understanding of others’ communication to us. I will deal with these biases in later articles.

Practical Exercise

It is once again time to practice what we have learned in this lesson. Practice the thinking step by developing hypotheses. You can start out by replaying in your mind some recent interactions you have had. Recall some of what the other person said and did, as well as how you understood his/her words and actions. Then develop one or more additional hypotheses as to what the other person could have meant. After you do this a few times, try applying the thinking step to your current interactions.

And remember, be quick to hear and slow to speak,

rjm

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