Are You a Soldier or a Scout?

Are you more like a soldier or a scout?

A soldier’s job is to protect and defend a position. A scout’s job is to seek out and explore new possibilities. Two distinct approaches with very different outcomes.

In his book, The Book of Beautiful Questions, Warren Berger suggests that scout like behavior gives a leader a definite advantage.

During times of change and transition, this is especially true. We need flexibility and approach situations as scouts who are on the look out for new possibilities, new ideas, and new ways forward.

The Intellectual Humility of a Scout

“The mindset of a scout is rooted in curiosity. Scouts are more likely to say they feel pleasure when they learn new information or solve a puzzle. They’re more likely to feel intrigued when they encounter something that contradicts their expectations.”*

Leaders with scout-like behavior have what’s called intellectual humility.

Intellectual humility is “a state of openness to new ideas, a willingness to be receptive to new sources of evidence.” The lack of intellectual humility limits your ability to see new possibilities because you believe you already know the answer and have it all figured out.

Intellectual humility suggests, “I must decouple my beliefs from my ego. I must be open-minded and treat my beliefs as hypotheses to be constantly tested and subject to modification by better data.”*

We see evidence of intellectual humility in Paul’s words, “…be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2).

Four questions to ask yourself in order to test your intellectual humility*

1. Do I think more like a soldier or a scout?

Do you hold your positions and assumptions with an open hand or put up your guard when challenged and met with opposing views? You don’t have to agree with someone to be scout-like — but do guard against defensiveness.

2. Would I rather be right or would I rather understand?

Deeper knowledge and a thorough understanding is more important than winning the debate in the short term. Keep the long term kingdom view in mind and realize there’s so much you don’t know.

3. Do I solicit and seek out opposing views?

A soldier might say, “You do agree with me right?” A scout might say, “If you disagree with me, would you be willing to tell me why and what you do believe?”

4. Do I enjoy the pleasant surprise of discovering I’m mistaken?

Redefining success as learning something new instead of being right will open the door to new possibilities and new discoveries.

Final Thought

We run into trouble when we fail to remain open to cognitive blind spots. The better we listen and understand others, the more likely solutions to the toughest challenges will emerge from unlikely places.

There are some tough challenges facing the church today in areas of what we believe. I'm not suggesting we compromise in those areas that we believe are at the core of our beliefs but I am suggesting the way we talk about what we believe might need to change.

The wind of the Spirit is blowing. What can get in the way of that wind is our preconceived ideas that we need to set aside in order to actually hear what the Spirit is saying.

How can you exercise the muscle of intellectual humility?
Who needs you to be curious and listen without prejudice?

*Source: The Book of Beautiful Questions: The Powerful Questions That Will Help You Decide, Create, Connect, and Lead by Warren Berger


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