The “Brave New World” of the 21st Century requires a “Brave New Discipleship” strategy.

How Important is the Power of Repetition?

Posted on: February 02, 2016

Reduce and Repeat.001


I know, I know, I used that by-line (Repetition is the Key to Mental Ownership) a few months ago. But I’m using it again, because… repetition is the key to mental ownership.

But, HOW do you use repetition to lock-in mental ownership of large volumes of information, and WHY is mental ownership so important?

HOW: If it’s big or neat, reduce and repeat! 

What I mean by that is, if something is really important – if it’s Big – or if it’s something you really like or are really interested in – if it’s Neat – then you must boil it down to its irreducible minimum, and repeat it until you own it. If we don’t, extremely important information can lie dormant in the deeper recesses of our mind without effecting our ongoing thought processes.

The fact is, some things are so important we only have to hear them once, and we own them, mentally, forever: “You have just won the Publisher’s Clearinghouse Sweepstakes!” No need to hear that twice.

But other things often have to be repeated over and over to mentally own them.

For instance. I always write the date in the front of a book when I read it. I just recently re-read a very important book on prayer by Philip Yancey that I first read nine years ago. It was like I had never read it! There was page after page of life-changing truth in it that hadn’t changed my life at all, because I hadn’t put in the work to mentally own it. I read it, and forgot it.

I determined I wouldn’t make that same mistake twice, and I am now in the process of boiling down the really important information in it, and I will be devising creative ways of repeating that information over and over until I own it. (In another blog, I’ll tell you how I’m going about it.)

WHY is mental ownership so important?

This brings me to the worldview information about the arguments for the existence of God that we have been going through for the last several months here on the blog. When I recently preached a sermon series at my church on a Christian worldview, it included the arguments for the existence of God. I began then doing the work to mentally own the truths in those messages, basically: memorizing the main points of my sermon outline and relevant Scripture passages. Having done the work of repetition that was necessary to memorize that information, I had those worldview truths at my fingertips, which I was then able to use almost immediately in two memorable instances.

First, a young boy, perhaps nine years old, or so, said to me, “I don’t know how to believe in God.” So I picked up a book and said, “Do you think this book always existed or that someone made it?”

He said, “Someone made it.”

“Who do you think made it,” I asked.   “A book maker,” he replied.

I took out a pen and said, “Who do you think made this?” He said, “A pen maker.”

I touched the chair I was sitting on and said, “Who do you think made this?” He said, “A chair maker.”

Finally I said, “Have you ever gone out at night when it was really dark and looked up and seen a whole sky-full of stars?” He said, “Yes.”

“Who do you think made them?” I asked.

A hint of a smile formed on his face, and he said, “God.”

I said, “Yup.”

He said, “I guess I do believe in God.” Exactly as God intended! (Romans 1:19-20).

In the second experience, as I was being interviewed as a guest on a podcast, the subject turned to reasons to believe in God. In answering questions, I was able to essentially go through the worldview information from memory that we have been looking at the last several months here on the blog. As the interview was being conducted, I had the sense that anyone listening would find it very compelling. And I learned later that the worldview issues had struck home with a lot of listeners, who went on to share the podcast with many others.

If I had not worked so hard on mentally owning those worldview issues, I would not have been ready for the nine-year-old boy, or the podcast. When we make the effort to mentally own something, God can turn it into ministry at the drop of a hat.


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