Sometimes, I find it helpful to read journal entries from an earlier leg of my journey. As I read one from January 1990, I was encouraged by what I was experiencing by way of a richer sense of God’s moment-to-moment guidance. I described the process back then like this:
“First, I find myself struggling and agonizing over how to approach a particular situation. I then come right up to the moment without an especially clear sense of what to do. As I remain in a posture of still trusting God to guide me, I have a moment of insight that gives me at least a next step to take. In taking that step, God provides further steps and a sense I am on a journey with Him once again.
In the past, I was the leader who was very confident about what to do and what to say. I knew exactly what was needed and always had the right answer to any question. That is, at least, I thought I did. Spiritual growth and maturing diminishes this breed of self-confidence. I realize just how little I know exactly what to say or do at any given moment. I have more questions than I did before. And I have found unanswered questions uncomfortable.
Teach me, Father, as I humbly learn from You. I want to model the lifestyle, the priorities, and the character of Your Son, Jesus. Help me to continue to recognize embedded selfishness and “without-God” patterns in my thinking and my attitudes. Help me to walk in a way that is increasingly in harmony with and conformed to the image of Your Son. May I continue to be renewed in my thinking. I want to be more like You and less like the old, self-centered me that I have been for so long. This is only possible as I learn to more fully depend on You.”
As I reflect back, I realize that it is only as we learn to be truly guided by the Lord that we have wisdom and insight to give guidance and direction to others. As leaders, we aren’t to draw others to ourselves or to our way of thinking or leading. We are pointing them to Jesus. We are helping them learn to walk with Him and work with Him (Matthew 11:29, MSG). When we do this, we aren’t equipping them to help with our ministry, but enabling them to engage in the ministry God has personally entrusted to them.
How do you respond when you are uncertain what the next step is for you? What does waiting look like in your life, your prayer, your work? How do you respond to temptations to counterfeit clarity?
Alan Fadling serves as Associate Director of The Leadership Institute in Orange, CA, a ministry that trains Christian leaders to integrate spiritual formation and leadership development. His blog, “Notes from My Unhurried Journey” is giving birth to a book on this theme to be published by InterVarsity Press (mid 2013).