[pic: Chicken on Flickr]
How many times have I prayed the words, "Oh God let my/our actions be in line with Your will?" Let Your will be done is a great posture to have when thinking about our actions in the world, but when the rubber hits the road, how do we decide what God’s will actually is?!?!?
Some people LOVE discerning . . . so much so that nothing ever gets done. "We are being thoughtful and deliberate" they say. While others just do it, damn the consequences "Better to ask for forgiveness than permission" they say.
Obviously there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to discerning what God’s will is for our lives. We need everyone and we need the ability to answer our callings in multiple ways. The spectrum of ways that we react to calls to action and movement in our lives can be positive or negative depending on the context. Those who are "deliberate" may pass up opportunities and be filled with regret for not trying. Those who push forward may leave a trail of burned relationships as their actions affect those around them. On the other hand, deliberation can allow for God to move folks in ways that they never expected at the beginning of the process while passionate action can meet needs when and where they are needed.
So . . . discernment. I am always trying to figure out what is next in my life, ministry, call. I believe that we must not only see how we have arrived where we are and what our current context is, but we must also keep one eye on where we are headed. Wandering is good sometimes, but guided wandering is even better. This is not about the church that I serve – stop freaking, or maybe you’re not – but I find myself thinking about what does God want me to do next in the context of my job, calling, family, etc.? What will be the next great adventure for the Christian life of Bruce. Hmmmmmm . . . I sure to hope it has something to do with motorcycles or Hawaiian ministry. But I digress . . .
- Is the next thing how I shift in leadership styles and models at MBCC?
- Is is the way we think about long term planning?
- Is it to have three more kids to complete the basketball team . . . ha, just seeing if Robin is reading my blog these days 😉
- Is it to dive more into some of my passions: social networking, institutional church de/reconstruction, cafe reviewing?
- Is it to just cruise along for a bit?
I wonder . . . well actually that is not my problem. I have actually never lacked for ideas of things to do. I have lacked for the intellectual, fiscal and/or spiritual juice to do said things, but ideas . . . not a problem. Now I never said they are good ones, just that I have them.
So herein lies the discernment dilemma for me. When I think I have a good one, what do I do? When I really think this one may have God’s thumbs up, how do I make sure as much as possible? So here is what I do.
- PRAY PRAY PRAY – yeah, of course you do Bruce, you’re a pastor. My pray consists of all the following steps as prayer is a conversation with God and I experience God is so many ways.
- MY HEAD and HEART – I listen for God to help bring some things to the top. Yes, fat rises, but so do ideas that need to be noticed. I have gotten pretty good at listening for God to bring up ideas that might actually be worth checking into more.
- ROBIN – I bounce stuff off of one who knows me best – I mean besides Jesus – and get some feedback. I know that sometimes that feedback, positive or negative, is not going to be a yes or no, but more of a hmmm . . . and then a few questions, concerns, etc.
- CORE GROUP – Depending on the issues/idea, I have some folks that I count as good friends/colleague who I can trust to be honest with me about who and how I am in ministry and life.
- FAMILY/COMMUNITY – Not always the most discerning group, but larger groups of family and friends can help gauge initial reactions to ideas. If the first reaction is "Really? That seems interesting" maybe that should tell you something. If the reaction is "Really? That makes a lot of sense or that’s very cool" that can tell you something else.
- ME AND MY GOD – In the end, I listen for what God is telling me, Bruce Reyes-Chow, child of the covenant, loved and blessed, broken and forgiven, servant and schmuck. At some point, I have to listen to that still small voice that says, "Okay, go for it" or "You know this is not really a good idea."
So who knows what God has in store for me in the future. Can’t wait to find out.