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Dark Arrows and Light Arrows
Posted by Clare
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“Alright Clare, I have a very important and potentially tough meeting today. Exactly what does it mean to be led by the Holy Spirit in that meeting?”

That’s the question a CEO of a major company posed to me a few years ago over breakfast. He didn’t want the theologically correct answer; he wanted advice in a way he could understand and use. Today! So, here’s what I told him.

“John, you’re an amazingly gifted man. You have an MBA from one of the best schools in the country. You’re athletic, aggressive, intelligent and have wonderful communication skills – a natural born leader. You’re also a serious follower of Jesus, which means you’ve been given unique spiritual gifts as well.

And today, when you go into that meeting I know you’ll use every skill and gift you have to charm and persuade everyone to agree to your proposal. I’d like you to think of all these wonderful skills, even your spiritual gifts as white arrows. White arrows are simply all your natural and spiritual gifts, your life experiences and all the knowledge and virtuous skills you’ve acquired.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is true, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.  Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice.  And the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8-9

John, I’ve seen you use your white arrows in business and ministry settings before and you’re amazing!

But, John there’s also another side of you – a dark side. You didn’t get where you are today only by using white arrows. I’m confident you’ve also used what I call, dark arrows. Dark arrows are skills we’ve learned because we’re sinners – lying, intimidation, telling half-truths, withholding information that don’t help our arguments, perhaps even anger or hurtful remarks to silence any opposition.  Whatever it takes to win or to be in control.

John, I’ve not seen you do any of these things, but I know I’ve personally used these dark arrows myself at times, so I’m guessing you have plenty of dark arrows in your quiver also.

Being led by the Spirit.

“So, here’s one way to be led by the Spirit today. Before you go into your meeting I want you to pray, asking the Holy Spirit for the courage to use only your white arrows today. Because here’s what will likely happen in your meeting, if you don’t.

I’m confident you’ll start out using all your charm and gifts of persuasion and logic – you’ll use every white arrow in your quiver. However, if you see that you’re not winning them over, you’re going to be tempted to reach over your shoulder and begin taking out your dark arrows. You’ll use the arrows that have worked in the past when charisma and logic didn’t.  My guess is you’ve also done the same thing at times with Lisa, your wife. You know the dark arrows that hurt, humiliate and silence her, don’t you?

To be led by the Spirit means that you will trust God by unilaterally agreeing to disarm yourself of all dark arrows, even if your opponents don’t and leave the results up to God.”

The Decision

John became very thoughtful and quiet. I just waited for him to speak, but I knew what was flying through his mind at that moment. Then he asked the question I was waiting for: “But, what if that causes me to lose?”

“John, the truth is you may lose – at least in the short run. That could be the will of God for you. But here’s the real question, Do you really think God’s will can be accomplished by using methods that he has said Christians should never use? Trusting in God doesn’t mean you just wishfully hope or pray God will cause things to turn out the way you want.  To trust in God means trusting in his methods only, and leaving the results up to him. Will you do that today? If you will, you’ll be led by the Spirit. If you won’t, you’re being led by John, not God.”

“Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.  You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ.” Romans 8:5, 9

Did it work?

John didn’t “win” the proposal that day and yet when he called me later in the afternoon, he said he had the strangest sense of peace that he had done what God wanted. (He still hated losing – he’s a man after all!)

This week I’d suggest setting aside some time to reflect on the dark arrows in your life.  Some came out of my quiver last week and were used against my wife.  That’s why I wrote this blog today, not just for you, but as a reminder to me to be far more intentional about being led of the Spirit of God.

Questions:  Why is it we so effortlessly fall back on the dark arrows and in what situations are you most likely to use them?

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Comments (8)
  1. Richard Weston said...

    Thank you Clare. This is the first time I’ve commented but not the first time I’ve been blessed by your blog. I find your practical application of God’s truth profoundly challenging, none more so than today. Your regular pointing to the way we men treat our wives is also very appropriate, or at least it is for me! God bless you and I hope to see you in Grand Rapids in early June. Richard

  2. Jeff Moseler said...

    Great, down to earth advice. My favorite line:
    “To trust in God means trusting in his methods only, and leaving the results up to him.”
    Such a clarifying statement. If I can do just that today, trusting his methods, I will consider it a win!

  3. Dave Stravers said...

    Thanks for the “dark arrows / white arrows” metaphor. Your examples of dark arrows are all the opposite of truth telling and servant leadership. I found that when I stopped shooting arrows of intimidation and/or manipulation of information, my skills in those “dark” areas atrophied. Becoming naively transparent left room for God to do His work, either reversing a course of action that I thought important, or producing the desired response, one that I did not need to get by manipulation. All kinds of good things happen, in the long run, when you just naively tell the truth. Because truth telling requires less calculation, it’s also easier to follow the ten second rule.

    • Clare said...

      Dave, thanks for the reminder that our dark skills can actually atrophy over time which makes obedience more likely.

  4. Mike Holton said...

    Clare: this one made some mental gears spin. It made “seeing” simple and powerful and a great visual for my interactions and behavior in all settings and relationships. How often do I fall into the trap of a comment or behavior I later regret all because I was motivated to create an imagined favorable impression from someone else…power, control and being a “slave to human respect,” all dark arrows. So thankful for the ability to see it now. Thanks for the “virtual quiver” for daily carry. Nice shot Robin Hood, right to the core!

    • Clare said...

      Are you my Friar Tuck, or Little John?

  5. Dwight said...


    To borrow a line from Bon Jovi, “Shot through the heart and your to blame…” Well, kind of. You’re just the vessel through whom God has spoken regarding our arrows. Great metaphor!
    In my own life, those dark arrows are drawn for one of two reasons: fear and pride. Fear, because I “feel” out of control over a situation that I really don’t control anyway, I just envision that I do (one of those nasty lies Satan whispers all the time). Pride, because if my ‘position’ is right, then I am right. When I reflect on those situations after some time has passed, I realize what I needed more than anything was more of His love. I John 4:18 reminds me that “there is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear.”
    As far as abandoning ALL outcomes to God and fully trusting him, that is a daily battle for me. The question that I believe we all ask ourselves is this: Is God’s plan for my life ultimately as good as my plan for my life?

    So, I remain, In His Grip

    • Clare said...

      Thank you for your honest insights. I’ve often thought of my life as a game of “spiritual king of the mountain” Most days I’m happy to have God on the top. But not every day. Some days I think there’s plenty of room for both of us.

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