“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.”
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?