There is that near you
which will guide you. Wait for it and be sure to keep to it.
Isaac Penington, 1678
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
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
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
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
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
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:
International peace gathering
Better communication within our Meeting