God – Not a Micro-manager

If you’ve been around churches for any length of time then you’d know that we are taught to try and ‘follow Gods plan’ for our lives, a phrase that may be somewhat misleading as it implies that at every moment God has decisions he wants you to make in order to be in ‘his will’. This is accompanied by the idea that the ‘best or safest place to be is in the centre of God’s will’.

If this is your idea of how guidance works the chances are you may feel a little anxious. It’s a big ask to be able to tune into God with this kind of precision – to continually locate yourself at the centre of Gods plan, especially if he isn’t saying much. (And sometimes he does go quiet for long periods – just read the Psalms…)

But it’s ok – I don’t think he is actually asking this. God isn’t a micro-manager.

It’s a good thing to desire to follow Gods plan, but if we try to listen for every breath he breathes then we won’t go anywhere fast. I believe it’s better to think of God’s plan as the redemption and restoration of the world – and it is this plan that I organise my life around. I have a degree of autonomy in giving shape to that life. We are called to be his disciples and to be formed in his image, but that can take shape in many ways.

So how do we deal with the very valid question of what does God want me to do?’

I see what we sometimes call ‘guidance’ operating in two ways. The first and the most dominant is by seeking wisdom. When faced with decisions that are complex or life altering the first base is to do as James writes of in Ch 1 ‘If any of you lacks wisdom then he should ask of God who gives generously to all without finding fault – but when he asks he must believe and not doubt…’ James goes on to speak of the difference between earthly wisdom and heavenly wisdom – one is self seeking and inward focused, while the other is peaceful, humble, considerate and submissive. (3:13-18)

The Bible speaks of using wise counsellors as guides – of making significant decisions in consultation with others and of being patient. It’s harder to make a really bad decision if you  have shared it with a number of others and sought counsel. (It’s one reason we need the church.)

Of course, some decisions don’t require any wisdom. Museli or toast for breakfast?… I don’t think God cares… Wanna go to the movies or dinner? Same – a non issue unless you are hungry…

Wisdom is however needed for vocational / life commitment decisions, think marriage, career, financial management and the like. So don’t wait for a burning bush to chart a course for you. Get on and live wisely. And if you don’t know how to do this then talk to someone who can walk with you and help you.

Make good decisions by following a good process.

I tend to feel most decisions are made thru wisdom.  In fact I would suggest we always ‘lead with wisdom’ and trust that as we use our God given brain to think thru an issue that he is ‘shining wisdom on us’. Wisdom means praying, listening, but then doing some work yourself to find the answer.

Then occasionally in life you will have a burning bush moment, a road to Damascus experience – (or as I like to call them – a Jerry Maguire moment) an encounter with God that cuts you open and calls you to an action that may not have been in your field of vision. These moments are insane and incredible!

I would guess that in all of the decisions I have made over  60 years I have had only a handful of moments where I could say with conviction ‘God spoke to me’, or ‘God  is calling me’. But by and large this is not my experience. I don’t hear God speaking every day. In fact more often than not it’s pretty quiet on the God front.

So good ‘godly’ decision making most often comes down to wisdom and then possibly courage because God may well call us down a path that is unfamiliar or maybe even disturbing.

So if you are sitting around waiting for the leading of the Holy Spirit – a dream about a man from Macedonia – or the like – then I suggest getting on with what you can do and drawing on what wisdom is available to you. If you do that then you’re probably 90% of the way there. You may have a God experience as you follow your chosen path. You may even interpret something as God that is pure coincidence…. I think we do that sometimes (and it’s ok – God smiles on it). I also think that sometimes God does form a path for us… Which one is it? That’s where some practiced discernment is invaluable – but that takes years to feel confident in. If you want to see an example of that kind of discernment at work then read this post about the day I didn’t sell my crazy dog after finally convincing the rest of the family that it was a good idea.

One piece of ‘dad wisdom’ I will shoot your way for free is simply that ‘life is always a series of trade-offs’. Want to own a home, settle down with a wife, 2 kids and a dog? Then chances are your other dream of travelling the world in a yacht will not come off… It’s the way life is and you can’t beat it, so the key is to learn what you value and live from that, content in knowing that you are choosing path ‘X’ and as a result path ‘Y’ you will not be able to follow.

As for ‘feelings’ and where they fit into decision making – that probably depends on who you are. I resonate with the statement that says ‘we are emotional beings who occasionally think things thru.’ Danelle is a feeler and I am a thinker, but we cross over plenty. I feel like it’s good to listen to your gut but moreso to be careful about letting it call the tune. Feelings can be a powerful intuition towards the right path. They can also be fickle and deceptive.

Start with wisdom.

And if you’re worried that you may be that guy James speaks about who doesn’t have enough faith, then I’d suggest that he may be addressing the person who prays for wisdom but never actually acts on the wisdom received because they hate the idea of getting it wrong. Better to act on some wisdom and trust that God has been in the process than to spend your life wondering about which path to take.

So if you’re sitting around and prevaricating as to what this year should hold for you then my bit of wisdom for you is to start moving towards the direction you feel you should be heading and then trust that God is leading you – but he also expects you to use the brain he has given you!

1 thought on “God – Not a Micro-manager

  1. Thanks for that Hamo, i found the book Descision Making and the Will of God liberating for me many years ago.
    Having said that Jason just prayed about keeping his Kingscliff store open or not, so he prayed if i get a sale of 777 last Sunday i will keep the store open, if i get a sale of 666 i will shut it…guess what happened, he got a sale of 666. Crazy!!!

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