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The Trap of Tribal Thinking – Words to Live

Dr. Lonnie G. McCowan

By Pastor Lonnie G. McCowan

What is “tribal” thinking; it is “the thinking of the masses”. There is a lot of fear tied up in leaving the tribal thinking.  However, you will never experience true freedom  unless you learn to think for yourself. More on this as you keep reading but first I want to ask you a question, a very important question. When was the last time you did something remarkable? I’m not talking about winning a Nobel Prize or finding the cure for cancer. I’m talking about doing something in such an exceptional way that it causes people to take notice. I believe every person has the capacity to make a significant contribution to the world. Every person can leave their mark and live so others are influenced in a profound and remarkable way. I am not talking about people who just want to get noticed I am talking about who want to make a significance impact. Someone ask the question How many drops of water does it take to make a tidal wave? Or how many snowflakes does it take to create an avalanche? The answer is: one. It’s always that last drop of water or that last snowflake that makes all the difference. You can be that last drop of water…or that one last snowflake. You can make the difference. You may not feel like you are doing anything big, but when you understand how just one person makes a difference you position yourself and everyone around you for a powerful change.

As you achieve greater success, you must shift your thinking from considering yourself to considering the world around you. It’s the difference between going after your own piece of the pie and going after the whole pie factory. When you own the factory, you multiply your impact by ensuring others enjoy the pie, too!

There are two types of people reading this—one has a level of understanding about their significance and desires to increase it; the other is just now awakening to the idea of living a remarkable life. No matter which you are remember, making an impact starts by making an investment in yourself. If you don’t make the investment, if you devalue yourself and minimize your significance, other people will too.  Most of us have been taught to follow the crowd.  We subscribe to “tribal” thinking, which is the thinking of the masses.  It is not easy to break from this type of thinking, or non-thinking.  A lot of people find this a huge stumbling block because they believe what social, political, religious and other authority figures have told them is always “true”.  There is a lot of fear tied up in leaving tribal thinking.  However, you will never experience true freedom  unless you learn to think for yourself.  But to do this, you must be capable of critical thought – which is something the members of the tribe cannot do. Put another way – most people don’t know how to think.  They have been told WHAT to think for so long, they no longer know HOW to think.  What’s the lesson for you?
I’m convinced that true freedom requires you to think contrary to what the tribe is thinking.  And it ALWAYS requires you to question the beliefs you hold.  On everything. This is not easy because we are addicted to certainty.  We would rather be certain about our beliefs (even if there wrong) than face the fact that what we believe may not be “true”.  But the more you question what the tribe believes the more you will realize that they are hypnotized. You don’t have to wait for them to wake up from the trance.  You can do it right now!  Let today bring you a new awareness of your God given greatest. An acorn is complete, but it still it is not an oak tree, however it contains the BLUEPRINT of the oak tree inside and by realizing its CAPACITY to be an oak tree on a day-to-day bases, it grows into the fullness of that inherent blueprint. We are like the acorn and each of us has the ability to embrace the perfect blueprint of our greatness.

Lonnie G. McCowan is pastor at The Miracle Center of Ventura, in Ventura, CA. He can be contacted through email at or by visiting

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