Friday, June 20, 2008

Seek and Obey

It’s been a day now since I’ve returned from the “Spiritual Fathers” project (see previous post) and I have finally given up on processing all that I took in. There was just too much. Instead, I’ve tried to boil down all that I learned to a few key action items – one or two things I learned that are most essential for me to act on now.

What I settled on were two things that actually stemmed from the same question. At one point, the Spiritual Fathers were asked “what spiritual discipline has been the most critical in your life?”

Constant Prayer: All of the men had this answer in common. To my surprise, they did not emphasize blocking out huge portions of time each day for dedicated prayer. In fact, they avoided saying specifically how much time they spent praying each day for fear we might benchmark against them and become legalistic about it. Instead, they all talked about cultivating a life of near constant prayer; constantly praying throughout the day. Having time each day dedicated to prayer is important, but they had all moved beyond that to a point where they were also praying intermittently throughout the day about every situation they faced. Paul, of course, describes this 1 Thessalonians 5 where he says to “pray without ceasing.” These men actually do.

Instant Obedience: This one came from Jack Hayford. He said that one of the most important disciplines he focused on was seeking to respond instantly to instruction or correction from the Holy Spirit. In other words, instant obedience. I felt immediately convicted about this. I often like to say things like “God is working on me on that” when what I really mean is that “I know what I’m supposed to do (or not do) and I’m not obeying – yet.” Delayed obedience, of course, is not much different than disobedience.

I realized, too, that the two are closely related. I can always tell when I’m not walking in total obedience to the Holy Spirit because my prayer life suffers. I avoid spending too much time in prayer because I know what the Lord is going to tell me, and I don’t want to hear it. And it doesn’t matter what I want to pray about, I know that the Lord will immediately shift the “conversation” to the area where I am not doing what I know to do, so I pray less. A lot less.

This is my resolution, to renew my pursuit of constant prayerfulness, and to strive for immediate obedience to Lord’s instruction and correction (including the area I’ve been fighting him on lately). To seek and obey.

The men on this panel have accomplished truly incredible things in their lifetime. Building some of the world’s most successful ministries while remaining respected and scandal-free is no small feat, especially considering the temptations and constant public examination that come with it. It’s considerably more difficult (and rare) than accomplishing the same in the business world. If the “secret to success” these men share is simply cultivating a lifestyle of constant seeking and obeying, imagine what is possible when Christian businessmen and women consistently live by the same mantra. If we truly see our calling in the business world as ministry (and it is) then we must.

Seek and obey. Simply and consistently. Not just daily, but throughout the day. Cultivated as a lifestyle, it just might change the world.

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