Put God at 
the center of your life.

 

  Opening Exercise Summary:
  
Leadings of the Spirit 
    Presented by Bob Santangelo

There is that near you which will guide you. Wait for it and be sure to keep to it.
                                                                                                      Isaac Penington, 1678

One member's leading came in the form of seeing the need for a greeter before Meeting for Worship.Leading and being led–sounds simple, but is it? Friends often speak of being drawn into a specific action after feeling the weight of a concern. Friends also speak of being open to the Leadings of the Spirit. Some feel they’re drawn to a particular action by the voice of God. This applies not only in their daily lives but in their dealings with others at Meeting and in the greater community. And leadings don’t necessarily have to be religious. They can be in the sciences, social concerns, the arts, and even in politics.

What is a leading?

A leading is a call to action which may be short-term and specific or involve the transformation of a person’s life and that of the Meeting.

What is the difference between a leading and a concern?

While a leading is the call to action, a concern, according to Faith and Practice, "is a quickening sense of the need to do something or to demonstrate sympathetic interest in an individual or group, as a result of what is felt to be a direct intimation of God's will." Unfortunately, Friends tend to use the word "concern" about as much as sellers on eBay use the word "vintage."

Often what Friends mean by a concern is a strong desire. But a true concern emerges as a calling from God which cannot be denied. Deep inside, you feel that you have to take action–sometimes no matter what anyone else thinks of your idea.

A concern may emerge as an unexpected insight from prayerful study of a problem or situation, such as a concern to promote inter-faith peace. It may also grow from an interest in the welfare of a person or group, such as outreach to the community or 
work with conflict resolution.

When it initially arises, a concern may not yet be linked to a proposed course of action, but may simply be a troubled sense that something isn’t quite right. Action, when it follows, is often the result of a leading, a sense of being drawn or called by God in a particular direction or toward a particular course of action.

Your concern and consequent leading may be an individual matter—something which you’re called to attend to without requiring assistance. But usually Meeting will offer guidance, aid, and encouragement.

How do you know if you’ve got a concern that could develop into a leading?

A concern often arises as a revelation about a discrepancy between what exists and what could exist or that a problem isn’t being adequately dealt with. The next step is for you to do something about it.–not because you’re well suited to tackle the problem, but because no one else is doing it. It’s also important to inform Meeting when you feel a major concern.

4. What should you do about it if you do?

Sometimes the way to your action is obscure. At other times, it’s undoubtedly clear. It’s also important that you test your leading before you take action. And for that we have the clearness process.

5. Using the clearance process to sort out your concern.

If you have a heavy or complicated concern or are unclear as to why it came to you, then you may want to ask Meeting to form a Clearness Committee of two or three individuals to help you sort it out. This committee may also provide long-term support, including ongoing evaluation. When Meeting gives it’s approval to a proposed course of action, it may release you to follow your leading. However, Meeting often provides financial assistance and support, continuing to oversee your action until you’ve fulfilled your leading or it has been laid down.

But if you can see your concern clearly, you may want to informally seek the advice of more knowledgeable Meeting members who may offer alternative ways of action, instead of using the more formal Clearness Committee.

Should Meeting not agree with your course of action, you can either drop it or pursue an alterative course of action, bringing it to Meeting several times before an agreement is reached.

Don’t waste your life waiting to be called to some great mission which will change the world. Listen to the gentle whispers that tell you how you can bring your life in harmony with God. And do something when the call comes.

Examples of leadings from members of our Meeting:

Russian Outreach
Conflict resolution
International peace gathering
Non-violence
Outreach
Better communication within our Meeting

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