Discernment, Discipline, and the Art of Getting Things Done
I’ve been working on a big decision for about 5 weeks. It’s given me a renewed perspective on the medicine I’ve been doling out to my Halftime clients for some time now.
The good news is that the remedy is working again. (It’s the same process I’ve used on 4-5 other big decisions in the last decade of my life.) And I’m convinced the process works regardless of the nature of the decision and/or growth area: professional, relational, marital, financial, spiritual, etc.
In general, there are two ways in which I have seen people process through big decisions and goals. In one camp are the folks who latch onto an idea, put their nose to the grindstone, and never stop to confer with others or with God. They know how to execute and they go for it. Unfortunately, sometimes those plans are purely theirs and not God-breathed. “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.” Proverbs 16:9
In the other camp are the folks who have substituted action with spiritual-sounding language like “waiting on the Lord,” “praying through a decision,” “letting the spirit guide me,” “making sure I’m not getting too far ahead of God” and “holding onto my agenda loosely.”
I completely get all that, but I firmly believe proactivity, discipline and creativity can comfortably exist in parallel to letting the Spirit guide us. “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:7
The key is balancing Discernment and Discipline over a prolonged period of time to make headway on big decisions and complex goals. At the Halftime Institute, we use a concept -- that I am employing now with my decision – called Pray/Act/Adjust. Picture it as a repeating cycle where you:
PRAY: Settle down your heart and ask the Spirit to help your mind and “gut” come to some conviction about what to do next. Note: The “what to do next” may not be some big honking YES or NO. Ask others to pray, too, and share what they are sensing with you.
ACT: Make the next step focused, practical and doable. It might be researching something further. Conferring with a few other people. Test driving the idea. Then, go do it. Stick with it. Follow through on the commitment to take the next step(s).
ADJUST: Now step back and assess what you learned about yourself and your decision/goal. Then, PRAY, ACT, and ADJUST again and again.
Break those big decisions and dreams down into smaller chunks with a balanced, spirit-driven, disciplined approach and over time the answers will be revealed.