Mark D. Roberts

Part 4 of series: Planning and Goals: Is There Room for the Holy Spirit?
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So far I’ve proposed that four attitudes and/or actions will help us be open to the Spirit’s guidance in the midst of our strategic planning and goal setting:

1. Acknowledge the sovereignty of God.
2. Listen for the “bass note” of biblical theology.
3. Respect the ways God has led in the past.
4. Recognize that God’s new wine requires new wineskins.

Today I’ll add another item to the list.
5. Acknowledge that God uses all we are for his purposes.
Different Christian traditions tend to emphasize different ways that the Spirit guides us. This is fine, though sometimes people can, besides emphasizing certain modes of guidance, reject others that are legitimate. For example, I swim proudly in the stream of Presbyterian, Reformed rationalism. I believe that God has given us the capacity to reason so that we might use it for his purposes. By thinking clearly about needs, purposes, opportunities, and resources, I believe we can formulate plans that are consistent with God’s purposes.
But I do not embrace rationalism to the extent that I deny other means of God’s guidance. I have Reformed colleagues who almost entirely deny the value of emotions in discerning God’s will. Though I share their worries about emotionalism, and though I agree with their critique of the overly emotional character of our culture, I do not reject the power of emotions to help us discern God’s will. Often, I believe, the Spirit guides us by moving our hearts. Our compassion, our anger, and even our joy can tell us something about God’s will.
Yet many Christians rely too much upon their feelings to guide them. I once had a brother in Christ tell me that he knew God approved of his adulterous relationship with a friend’s wife because it felt so right. Would that he had used his brain a bit more, and remembered the Ten Commandments, which contain God’s idea of whether adultery is right or not.
For the most part, strategic planning involves our thinking. But, as we reason individually and together, we should also be open to the movement of our hearts.

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