Do you use your right brain enough?

I am involved in a six-week leadership development course right now in Romania which has been fun, creative and life changing. But let me backtrack for a moment and think about the month before all this began.

Putting a course together with manuals for every topic you teach, working online with the staff, deciding who will be teaching what aspects of the course, finalising schedules, and gathering all the materials needed, working through all the PowerPoints to update and make sure all is in place… it’s exhausting just to think about it. It was weeks of sitting in front of my computer and getting up for coffee breaks and something to eat. Anyone who has led a training school will know what it’s like. Day after day of left-brain work.

Then comes time to pack the bags and head off to the location where it will all happen. Much of our preparation was sharing together as a staff, affirming, blessing, and praying over one another to help us bond together as a team. It was delightful. There were still some details to be sorted but it felt like stepping from one planet to the next. I had been using my left brain for weeks on end and now I had a chance of moving to right brain activity that is so freeing and enjoyable.

Bradley Bell in an article entitled, ‘an invitation into whole brain missiology’, quotes author Curt Thompson who talks about how entire groups and even cultures can become dominant in one side of the brain. In fact, he says that “the past 400-500 years our culture has been dominated by a left-brain way of being in the world”—that is, “viewing the world primarily as a problem to be solved instead of beauty to be created”.

When God created a man and woman, he gave a few instructions and responsibilities and one warning not a long set of rules and regulations and dos of don’ts. Bell says, ‘God set them in a garden paradise and encouraged them to ‘Join me in filling the earth with my love and glory and rule. Be fruitful and multiply.’ God gave us a mind to explore, to be creative, curious, inquisitive, innovative, and imaginative as well as be logical, organised and practical. Perhaps it’s time to even out our brain usage!

Why is it, that so often church has become a left-brain activity. Teaching is a talking head, even worship sometimes becomes a wall of music, an up-front performance and not an interactive experience. Devotions become word studies, memorisation, going through our prayer lists and reading our scheduled passage.

I sometimes wonder what my wife Rite would think if I sent her a schedule and agenda for our date night – the topics we will talk about, the lists of to do’s that are waiting for us and a standard kiss on the cheek! She wouldn’t be longing for the next date, I am sure.

This LDC opens the door for us as a staff to enter into a whole new world of creative application and enhancing our training with a right brain focus. It is more work, but our hope is that the fruit will be transformative. I believe every training program should have a strong element of right brain involved.

Our theme for the school is ‘Light into darkness,’ so on the first session all the participants were sent out into the surrounding area to take a picture that underlined this theme. We entered into a mediation around John 11 of the raising of Lazarus – light coming into the darkness of the tomb. One of the stations involved lying down and having your head bound with toilet paper symbolising the strips of linen wrapped around the corpse and being called to rise up from any difficulties, traumas that had brought darkness. We entered into intercession for Gaza praying inside a map made of masking tape on the floor, prayed for negotiations as we untied a string of knots and wrote words of hope on a dark sheet of paper with chalk. During our worship we stepped on large and small hearts allowing God to touch us as well as giving our whole hearts to him. Every day we aim at having some activity to engage our senses and whole being and not just our ears and minds.

During the teaching on Clinton’s 5 phases of development in a leader’s life, we created 5 rooms that gave participants a simulation of what each phase is about. It all started with birth in sovereign foundations and everyone crawling through a dark tunnel resembling the birthing tunnel. They are greeted with joy as they entered the world and were prayed over and blessed. For those who hadn’t had a great start in life this was very meaningful. The final phase was breaking through the finish line tape with the award button of ‘finishing well.’ These experiential workshops bring to life the training through talking and dialogue and touch our emotions and hearts as well as our minds.            

Last week we enjoyed a workshop which included various kinds of blessings for marriage, friendship, spiritual destiny, and celebration of milestone events. Much joy and laughter were heard as people were celebrating events that had been missed over the years – a birth, a birthday, a baby, a graduation, a healing from near death and so much more. We finished the week with a debrief that involved drawing a picture on a paper plate of how we had been impacted through the week. With just a little creativity, important truths can come alive in a new way in all our lives.

Whatever you are doing in ministry this week, ask the question, ‘how can I do this in an interactive, engaging way that enables people to feel, think, experience, and apply? Of course, our outreaches are always sensorial, helping others with acts of mercy, communicating with people face to face but let’s use our right brains as much as we possibly can. Try not to walk with a bias on the left side!

Until next month


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