The Discipline of Guidance
If you haven’t read my previous blog posts about my journey in discipline this year, I would recommend starting by reading my introductory blog here, as well as my other update blogs which you can find listed here.
What is Guidance?
Guidance, though outwardly it can look different depending on the situation, boils down to seeking the thoughts of God. I certainly have thought about this being a discipline in a personal context, where I would ask God to reveal his will for me in whatever area, and then I would wait and listen, but Foster focuses mainly on the discipline of corporate guidance, meaning the seeking of the Father’s will in community with one another.
In this day in age, especially living in a Western culture, we typically don’t think too much about “being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind” (Philippians 2:2). Instead we focus mainly on ourselves and our own issues. We almost always make our decisions on our own, and in matters that involve others we tend to choose solutions that the majority of people agree on or the choice that makes the most logical sense. I’m not saying that any of this is necessarily a bad thing, but as I read this chapter, I was struck with the beauty of how God created us to live in community. If we only look to ourselves, majority rule, or logic, we miss out on the gift that is the body of Christ around us.
One of my favorite passages in support of this idea is 1 Corinthians 12:12-27. Paul writes in this passage that we all have different roles within the body. If one person counts themselves out because they don’t look or act the same way as another part of the body or have the same giftings, that would be a tragedy to the body as a whole. Likewise, if one part of the body thought that they didn’t need the rest of the body, they would be missing out on the full range of abilities and giftings available to them. There isn’t one person that possesses every gift. The most mature believers still need the help of others. Every part of the body has something to contribute. Foster supports this when he states, “No one could hear the whole counsel of God in isolation” (p.179).
Thinking back on the time that I’ve been active within the body of Christ, I don’t think I ever connected this passage to my life correctly, at least in the setting of corporate guidance. I would read it and think “I just don’t have a gift for this”, automatically counting myself out from participating due to my own fears and insecurities. What I am realizing now, however, is that each and every one of us, myself included, have a role to play in times of corporate guidance. The point is not to have the “right answer” or to say the most “powerful” thing, or even to share what you think is the right course of action for whatever you’re seeking guidance for. The point of corporate guidance is to hear the voice of our Father as a people and agree to be obedient as a people.
How do we practice the Discipline of Guidance?
Practically speaking, there are a few different forms this discipline can take. You could be trying to make a big decision in your personal life, such as whether or not to take a new job offer, or move to a new city. In these times, it can be extremely impactful to invite some other trusted believers in to pray and seek the will of God together. Alternatively, there could be some large business, church, or organizational decision to be made, and those involved can come together and, again, seek the voice and thoughts of the Father. In either case, the simple goal is to be unified as a people in the way that you believe God is leading you.
As with any other activity involving other humans, corporate guidance does have some risks if it’s not entered into properly, but if a group of people that is submitted to God is gathering with one goal – to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit – unity can be achieved. When talking about the assurance that the disciples had about corporate guidance, Foster writes that the “Spirit would utilize the checks and balances of the different believers to ensure that when their hearts were in unity they were in rhythm with the heartbeat of the Father” (p.177). This fact is true for us today as well. We as God’s beloved children can trust that if he is leading us as a group in a certain direction, that direction will be the best choice. Logic, our own ideas, and our feelings will fail us, but our loving and faithful Father never will.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this blog. Whether you’ve been participating in this challenge yourself or not, I’d love to hear how you’ve practiced the discipline of guidance in the comment section below. Have a wonderful December!