A leading might be inconvenient, nudging you onto a path you hadn’t previously considered. It might feel foolhardy or unclear. How do we know when to say yes? How does a true leading from God differ from the prompting of the ego?
Materials and Setup
Materials & Setup:
You need devices and internet access to access the essay and article.
You will need a Friend in your meeting or spiritual community for the spiritual practice.
If you have five minutes…
Reflect on this quotation:
The true “concern” [emerges as] a gift from God, a leading of the Spirit which may not be denied. Its sanction is not that on investigation it proves an intelligent thing to do – though it usually is; it is that the individual (and if the concern is shared and adopted by the meeting, then of meeting) knows, as a matter of inward experience, that here is something which the Lord would have done, however obscure the way, however uncertain the means to human observation. Often proposals for action are made which have every appearance of good sense, but as the meeting waits before God, it becomes clear that the proposition falls short of ‘concern.’
If you have twenty minutes…
Read this essay by Liz Wine about wrestling with resistance: God Is Calling, Will Liz Please Pick Up?
“I decided, much as two-year-old might, to put my fingers in my ears and pretend I couldn’t hear anything. It was full on resistance.”
From Spirit Rising: Young Quaker Voices, copyright 2010. Used by permission of QuakerPress of FGC. Available through QuakerBooks.
If you have an hour…
EM: Can you tell me more about what that leading to go felt like?
GL: It felt like a real compulsion. I would’ve been relieved if AQAG had decided not to include me in the team, but also very disappointed because it really felt like it was God’s intention that I go. Way opened, there was no question of my doing it, regardless of the fallout that might occur with regard to my job. As it was, the president of the place where I was teaching decided to fire me. I was financially insecure, my family was insecure…there were all these consequences, including the possibility that I wouldn’t come back alive. And it was just clear as crystal, that was my thing to do, if AQAG decided to send me.
EXERCISE OF DEEP LISTENING AROUND LEADINGS WITH A PARTNER:
Invite someone from your local Meeting, somebody you already have a pre-existing spiritual friendship with or perhaps, another participant in the eRetreat that you’d like to know more, to engage in a deep listening practice with you. Schedule 45 minutes to be together – either in person, over the phone, or by video call. During your time together, take turns sharing about your experience with a Leading (this can be either a Leading you are experiencing currently or one you’ve had in the past) and then, in turn, being a deep listening presence for your partner. The format of this sharing should be as follows: One partner will speak about their experience with a leading for 15 minutes, uninterrupted, while the other person offers the hospitality of deep listening (and listening not only to what the person is saying, but the feelings underneath the words that are rising). The sharing and listening should occur without interjections, asking questions, sharing ways that you connect to the speaker’s story, etc. After the 15 minutes is up, the listener will reflect back the key points of what they heard their partner saying. Then, you’ll switch, and this time, the listener will become the speaker and the speaker will become the listener – undergoing the same process.
You may want to carve a few minutes after your call to de-brief your experience through journaling.
- What did it feel like to hold someone’s unfolding through the practice of deep listening? (Sometimes Quakers call this the art of listening someone into wholeness.)
- What was the experience of having someone’s undivided attention as you mined your thoughts?
- Did the “reflecting back” spark any new insights for you?
Queries for Reflection and Discussions
- How do we tell the difference between a leading from the Spirit and a leading that comes from our ego?
- How do you think the quality of an action that is prompted by our inner transformation is different from the quality of action that comes from an outward conviction that the action is right? Have you ever felt that difference?
You are invited to create and share your reflections via a brief writing, narrated video, or illustration.