Soren Kierkegaard has easily been one of the most influential thinkers in my life. Not only is he a fascinating person, and amazing thinker and writer, but his work, Purity of Heart, Is To Will One Thing was groundbreaking in my thinking upon the Christian life, and especially upon the single-mindedness of the disciple and discipleship.
Lately I have been thinking about him a lot. This is most likely due to the fact that I am in a graduate psychology program, and Kiekegaard seemed to understand the psychology of people, as well as integrating this into a more theological and philosophical framework.
In understanding the psychology of people, I think that gave him amazing insight into humanity, into life, and especially into the Christian life, though many Christians would probably balk at such an integration of psychology and theology.
As I have been thinking more about him and his writings, and thinking, I am reminded of one of my favorite stories of his childhood.
Soren was sent to Latin School with instructions from his father to bring home the third best grade.
It’s easy for a genius to earn the best grade, but to get the third best, he must learn psychology. He must figure out who the second and fourth smartest boys are and place his own work between theirs.
Kierkegaard for Beginners, pp.6 And really, isn’t everyone a beginner when it comes to Kierkegaard?
This story has me wondering about its implications in many areas of life. In leadership. In the church. In relationships. Not to tease out the story too much, but don’t we all live life at times with a very single minded determination to fulfill our desires and wishes, and to be at the top? And in doing this, I wonder how we constantly ignore those around us on our way, failing to take into account relationships?
Maybe the goal is not always to be at the top, or at the front, but to have a better understanding of those around us. Though Kierkegaard’s father had other implications for him doing this, I still wonder about the nature of the task, and what it involves, and what it could teach us.