Healthy Leaders


Listening to God at Work

Rick JamesRick James

I was talking with the international director of a large faith-based organization about discernment (recognizing and responding to the presence and activity of God in a situation). She caught me off-guard when she said, “Well I trust we would never do anything like that in our organization.” 

A lot of people are very fearful of trying to bring discernment into management decisions. It feels like we are not valuing the human wisdom and common sense that God has already given us. For many they have been emotionally and spiritually damaged by people in power inflicting their interpretation of God’s will onto a situation in a manipulative and controlling way. 

But our own intellect may not be enough in making decisions. We do not know everything about our own organization. None of us knows the future. Our own rational thoughts may well be clouded by our own interests and agendas, whether we are aware of this or not. As Ruth Haley Barton warns, “When we set out to do good, but carry out our attempts without the discipline of attending to our own stuff which lies beneath and opening ourselves up to God’s presence, evil is always close at hand.” 

I get worried when I read that God declares “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways (Is. 55:8).” We may need to make more opportunities to listen to God about organizational issues at work, like one CEO of a large Christian NGO in UK who takes two hours every Friday lunchtime just listening and praying. 

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Rick James