Discerning Church Learning to discern the movement of God's Spirit

Pressure

I enjoy listening to podcasts while working out. While on the elliptical, I enjoy watching video podcasts. One of my favorites is TED Talks. Gifted speakers present on various topics. The shows are usually less than twenty minutes. This weekend, I watched a talk entitled A Different Way To Think About Creative Genius by Elizabeth Gilbert. Gilbert is the author of the highly acclaimed book Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia. Gilbert related her fear of having reached the top of her career. How could she top this work? Would her next book be as celebrated? Many creative types suffer from such anxiety.

You might be asking what this has to do with discerning churches. Stick with me.

Gilbert describes the incredible pressure for artists, writers and other creative types; she attributes an insatiable need to succeed to the Renaissance. About 500 years ago, artists began to believe that their creative work was all about their own efforts. Before, artists were understood as inspired from an outside force (a fairy or deity). She explains the benefits of this world view. It protected the artist from narcissism; the artist was unable to take all the credit. The artist was also protected from failure; perhaps the deity was to blame. Gilbert advocates for a return to a pre-Renaissance view of creative work. Such an approach provides a safer place.

While I am careful to endorse fairy inspiration, I would agree that a less individualized view of life is healthy. As for the church, leaders often suffer from the same condition. The pressure to grow, to succeed, to develop more programs can be daunting. We must allow the weight to be lifted. How often do we truly believe that God is the driving force in our ministry? May we learn to depend on His power rather than our own ingenuity. Take a few minutes to view Gilbert’s presentation. I would love to hear your thoughts.