Most often when God leads me it’s very subtle and I’m not aware it’s happening. I’m jealous of the people who hear audible voices, have visions, dream dreams, who hear a consistent theme through songs, shows, conversations, etc. I pray, I read my Bible I ask for advice, and then I make a good decision. Every now and them I’m sure I need to say something or do something or I’m inspired to make a phone call or share my thoughts with a friend. I’m always cautious to attribute this to God but often the fruit of these acts makes me think maybe it was from him.
Thankfully, I am not alone.
My friend, Michelle told me a story tonight. On Sunday night she called her son into her room while she was folding laundry and asked about a friend of his whose mother is struggling with cancer. She mentioned to her son how sad it would be if his friend’s mom passed away without having the opportunity to know Jesus and then asked if his friend’s family went to church anywhere. [pause: Michelle has a huge heart, is very thoughtful and caring, she is committed to Jesus, but these kinds of words don’t usually come out of her mouth in this way] When he said that he didn’t think so she suggested maybe he should invite him to youth group. On Monday he invited his friend. On Wednesday he went to youth group…and wanted to stay longer. Tonight he came and served at a community outreach. On Sunday he’s planning to come to church.
She said she knew where the words came from…the Holy Spirit…but that she’s not sure how because she didn’t hear God talking to her. Still, she knew there was more to what she was saying than she would normally say herself. She may not be sure how it happened, but she’s sure it did.
We ask for him to speak and lead, we obey when we’re sure it’s him and we make the best decisions we can along the way and are sometimes surprised when he leads without us realizing it.
Today I co-taught a pre-release class in a men’s prison. It was the first class I have taught in prison. It will not be the last.
It’s funny to me that a large part of the reason I am co-teaching this particular class is because my friend and co-teacher didn’t feel comfortable doing this new thing alone. She is extremely capable and will do great once she feels comfortable (and then we will follow our plan and I will abandon her). I don’t feel particularly called to this class at this time, but I do feel called to empower others for ministry to the vulnerable so I know that I am exactly where I need to be.
And then I thought about the church services the team from my church lead at the county jail a couple months ago. I had not set foot in the jail before planning the church service and leading my team of 8 to lead the inmates in worship and teaching. I didn’t know what it looked like, I just jumped in and pulled others along with me.
It’s not that I had no idea what I was doing. I teach (college students) on a regular basis, I prepared and lead services for Celebrate Recovery for over a year, and through various recovery ministries I’ve met and befriended a large number of people with complicated backgrounds. So, with the exception of the one guy on our jail ministry team who had been incarcerated previously, I am the most knowledgeable/experienced person on the team about our ministry context but I am by no means a seasoned pro and I’d still never lead a church service in a jail or taught in a prison until a couple months ago.
I love drawing people deeper into ministry, but I don’t particularly like leading blindly. I’d rather know and understand the context and feel completely comfortable before slowly introducing others. As a leader you don’t always have the luxury of knowing the road ahead or even understanding terrain you’re currently on. So you learn as much as you can, pray as much as you can, and go where God guides.