23 min read

Transcript: Why a Discerning Life is Key to Inspirational Leadership // Steve Macchia, Leadership Transformations Inc.

The Flourishing Culture Podcast Series

“Why a Discerning Life is Key to Inspirational Leadership“

May 16, 2022

Steve Macchia

Intro: Would you like your leadership to be more inspirational? In my new book, I write about inspirational leadership is a key to a flourishing workplace, but it begs the question, how do you develop it? Our guest today believes having a discerning life is the key. Listen in as we discuss spiritual principles and practices that will change your life and leadership.

Al Lopus: Hi, I'm Al Lopus, and you're listening to the Flourishing Culture Podcast, where we help you create a flourishing workplace. The problem employers are facing today is that more of our employees are quitting than ever before. Some people are calling this the great resignation. And now with millions of open jobs, how can churches, Christian non-profits, and Christian-owned businesses face this tidal wave of resignations while attracting new, outstanding talent? And we know that having a flourishing workplace with fully engaged employees is the solution. I'll be your guide today as we talk with a thought leader about key steps that you can take to create a flourishing workplace culture.

So, now let's meet today's special guest.

To have a flourishing organization, you need healthy leadership, and that includes a foundation of spiritual health. And on today's podcast, we explore ways to deepen the quality of your spiritual life because who we are is all we can bring to our leadership. And again, I've just heard that over and over again. Who we are is all we can bring to our leadership. And there's no shortcuts to soul care and spiritual discernment in the life of a leader.

So, I'm delighted to welcome back Steve Macchia, the founder and president of Leadership Transformations, Inc. Steve is the author of numerous books, and the most recent one is The Discerning Life. And he has years of experience as a pastor and a leader in Christian ministry. So Steve, welcome back to the Flourishing Culture Podcast.

Steve Macchia: Al, it is such a joy, brother, to be with you in this way. And I thank you for the privilege and the honor.

Al: I'm looking forward to our conversation. But before we dive in, tell us a little bit about Leadership Transformations, Inc. and how you support Christian leaders and leadership teams.

Steve: Well, Leadership Transformations is almost 19 years old. It's hard to believe that we started so long ago. It seems like yesterday. But it's been amazing to see how God has blessed the work of our hands and multiplied the prayers of our hearts in such meaningful ways. We have the privilege of three different certificate programs now: one in spiritual formation, another in formational leadership, and a third in spiritual direction. And all three of those certificate programs are going well. There seems to be good response from leaders and teams wanting to be trained more specifically in the care and nurture of their soul, more of the, if you will, the soft side of leadership: the relational, spiritual, cultural side of leading organizations. And we really believe that as the soul of the leader goes, so goes the leader, so we're going to keep diving into the soul. Let's keep digging into the state of the soul and the state of the heart of the leader and the team, because it directly impacts everything that they do.

We also do a lot of work at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. We work with denominations like the Salvation Army and Foursquare and a variety of others that we're servicing. Our team is now 40-plus in number, scattered across the country, doing a variety of parts and pieces of our ministry. And we are just loving what we get to do together. And more importantly, we love each other as brothers and sisters, and we share our own soul care with each other as members of the team.

So it's been a great ministry, Al, and thank you for your encouragement of me in a dark time as well as light times. I'm forever indebted to you for your kindness in my behalf and in our behalf. So we thank God for you and your amazing work. And congratulations on your book, too. I'm going to have you on my podcast so we can talk about what it means to flourish, so we'll reverse the microphones soon as well.

Al: Yeah. I look forward to that, Steve. Thanks. And gosh, what you do is such a needed ministry, and I really appreciate it.

And, you know, let's get right to your current book, The Discerning Life: An Invitation to Notice God in Everything. And for many of our listeners, they equate discernment to decision making. And, you know, and I've thought about that in the past. Okay, so we need to discern in order to actually get to a place where we can make a good decision. But you differentiate a little bit between spiritual discernment and decision making. So help us understand that difference and why it's important.

Steve: A great question. It's really the reason why I wrote the book is that I do see discernment as a wider knowledge of God, more than just making good decisions, even though that's part of it. It's definitely a part of it. But I do think what we're invited into as God's people is to discern God, to notice God. In fact, the subtitle of the book is An Invitation to Notice God in Everything. And my definition inside the book for spiritual discernment is practicing a preference for God in all aspects of our life. So what I'm desirous of is for people to embrace the discerning life as a holistic understanding of who they are as children of God, that God initiates toward us. He wants us to notice Him. And by noticing Him in our prayer closet, in our relational network, in our communities, in our churches, when we get to the place of making decisions, then it comes more fluid fashion, because we're living a discerning life and we're noticing God together. What does He want from us for the next season or the next big decision that's in front of us? And so discernment is a lifestyle. And I want to, I really want to help people practice a preference for God in all aspects of their life so that they're finding great joy in their walk with Jesus. And when they do so together, then decisions don't have to be hard or harsh. They can come out of a prayerful, relational way of being and doing life together.

Al: Right.

Steve: So, I'm really excited about this, Al. I really think it's something we need to be considering more and much more than just labeling discernment as decision making.

Al: Yeah. Wow. So it's a practice of preference for God. I like that very much, Steve. Yeah.

You know, one aspect of being discerning is noticing what God is doing. You know, I like the old quote kind of see what God is doing and go to it, participate in it. But you even have that in your subtitle. You talk about how we often miss what God's doing because we aren't attentive, and oh boy, you know, that's the story of my life. So what are some of the hindrances to attentiveness that you observe, particularly in Christian leaders?

Steve: Oh boy. Distraction is the name of the day, right? I mean, we are so distracted by other concerns that we miss so much of God because our eyes are focused elsewhere. My wife, who used to be a preschool teacher, would always say, “Steve, it's always about the eyes. It’s all about the eyes. So I need to see your eyes.” And she'll say that to her children, you know, “I need to see your eyes.” And so when you are given the eyes, you're actually given attention. And so I think about all the ways that our eyes are elsewhere, whether it's on social media or technology or even on lesser things or lesser priorities. When our eyes are fixed elsewhere, we're missing so much of God, and God is, basically, tapping on the shoulder of our hearts, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He wants us to pay attention to Him because He's constantly initiating. He's an initiator. He's a lover. He's a giver. And because of being such, when we miss out, like, that tap, tap, tap on the shoulder, if we kind of flick Him away or stiff arm Him, we miss so much of what He's trying to do in us and through us and all around us. So attentiveness is a big part of spiritual discernment. And heightening our ability to be more attentive, I think, is the spiritual journey. So let's pay attention to the Word of God. Let's pay attention in worship. Let's pay attention to conversations that we're having with another. I talk in my book about pure listening. We need to learn how to listen as purely as possible. I know it's impossible to get 100% pure listening, but we certainly can do a better job than we currently are listening to the Lord, listening to His Word, and most importantly, listening to each other, because God has placed us in relationships to do Kingdom work together. That's what Best Christian Workplaces Institute is all about, right?

Al: Yeah, that's exactly right. We can do so much more together than we can individually, can’t we. Yeah, yeah.

Steve: Totally, totally.

Al: Well, I love what you say about being attentive, you know. And you've mentioned the Word and worship and conversations with others. I mean, to listen, listening. Somebody asked me the other day, you know, “What's going to be different in the future that will make leaders better?” And that was my answer. You know, we need to listen. Certainly, being quiet enough, as you're already pointing out, where we can actually discern the voice of God in our lives, you know, and we can't do that when we're distracted. Your point, exactly.

Steve: Yeah. And most of the people around us, they don't want to be fixed.

Al: Yeah.

Steve: They do want to be listened to, though.

Al: Yeah, that’s right.

Steve: So we shouldn't be about fixing each other. Instead, we should be about listening to each other.

Al: So, and that kind of brings us to that topic of in the practice of Sabbath. You say it's the key to deeper life. I think about Sabbath and, okay, we go to church, and we go out to lunch, and we've got family activities, and then we kind of get ready for the week, and all of a sudden, the day's gone. So how can leaders prioritize Sabbath as a rhythm in their own lives? What are your suggestions as you encourage it with others and those that they lead? What are some of the consequences, from your perspective, of ignoring this rhythm, a Sabbath rhythm?

Steve: Yeah. Boy, I do believe, Al, that Sabbath is the turn key to the deeper life. Without Sabbath, there isn't depth. There just isn't. What Sabbath does is Sabbath reminds us that there's only one God and we are not He. It reminds us that we need to press the Pause button on a busy life and notice our lives. Notice the work of our hands. I mean, that's what God did. God isn't anti-work. He's very pro-work, but He's also very pro-rest. So there's something about the work-rest rhythm that even He practiced. On the heels of creation, He chose to rest, and then, He made that seventh day a holy day. He blessed it. He set it apart. And then there's a commandment in the Ten Commandments about Sabbath, and it's the one that's the most wordy of all. It took Him more words to describe Sabbath than any other commandment. It’s, like, okay, why? Because He probably knows—not probably—He knows we're block headed about this. We think we can just keep going 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and our culture is telling us we can do so. But as peculiar people, namely Christ followers, we need to say, “No, that's not the way. That's not the way God wants us to live. He wants us to, yes, work hard, be productive, be fruitful, multiply. But He also wants us to rest.” So I think we need to have a theology of rest. I think we need to have restful principles of our life, and then practice it.

And the way in which I describe rest is rest is anything that's adrenaline free. So when you think about your worship day, your family day, your restful day, where are you not engaging in another adrenaline fix? So Sabbath isn't—just like vacations. The vacations, for whatever reason, they're not restful. It's because we've transferred our adrenaline rush from work to making sure that we're, like, doing as much as we can on vacation. Then, we come back exhausted. Why do we come back exhausted? Because we haven't truly rested.

I'm convinced, Al, that most people, even most Christians, simply do not know how to rest. So I like to ask pastors and leaders the question, how do you rest? How do you find rest for your soul, rest for your body, rest for your relationships, rest even for your mind, so that you're truly taking a Sabbath, pressing that Selah Pause button, like the biblical text would describe, and just saying, “I want to notice. I want to breathe deeply, and I want to practice noticing God so that I can see Him more clearly throughout the rest of the week.”

Al: You’ve just pushed a button for me, Steve. Thirty years ago, I was a workaholic, and my wife hit me on the forehead with a two by four, saying, you know, “I want you to stop that, and there’ll be consequences if you don't.” And as I kind of dealt with, well, what is this, workaholism? And it was the adrenaline thing.

Steve: Yeah.

Al: You know, you mentioned, you know, how we need to be adrenaline free in our rest. And I realized I was addicted to my own adrenaline, and I would create situations where I would work hard to solve problems that caused a positive outcome, from my perspective, and it was all about adrenaline. And then after a while, because I was addicted to it, I just couldn't, I couldn't stop, because I needed to feed the next adrenaline fix. And we see this with leaders, don't we?

Steve: We do.

Al: And that's kind of one of your points, isn't it? We need to rest. And, of course, yeah, how do you rest? What a great question. Great conversation. I appreciate that.

Steve: Yeah. Jesus honored rest, and He came to redeem people, even—who are the ones that gave Him the most hard time practicing, like, healing on Sabbath? It was the religious leaders.

Al: Yeah.

Steve: It was the workaholics of Jesus’s day.

Al: Yeah.

Steve: It was the strong-arm, power-hungry religious leaders who were legislating what people could do and not do on the Sabbath. And I think we need to say Sabbath is for all of us. It’s God ordained. But how you rest is going to look differently than how I rest. So how are we going to choose to be adrenaline free in our own style, through our own means, through our own personalities? I mean, I'm a recovering workaholic as well. I understand exactly what you're talking about. It’s so hard. But by embracing Sabbath, it's been the best thing I've done for our family, my marriage, and for me as a follower of God.

Al: And are you talking about Sundays when you say Sabbath?

Steve: For us, now, it is. It hasn’t always been. But I don't think we need to legislate even that, you know, what the day of the week is, especially for people in pastoral work—

Al: Right.

Steve: —when Sunday is a very full day. But I do say to even pastors, you know, why not participate in Sabbath and create Sabbath ambiance for your people and then invite them into the experience that you're trying to have with them?

Al: Yeah.

Steve: So that's hard to do.

Al: Yeah.

Steve: Not impossible, but it's hard to do.

Al: Yeah. You know, so here we are. We're talking about Sabbath and discernment. And discernment isn't a solo practice; it's relational. You mentioned that we all need at least one relationship where we can be totally and completely honest. And tell us why you think this is particularly important for Christian leaders.

Steve: Oh, Al, talk about tapping into something. It's like, isn't this, like, the issue of the day, that some of the biggest fall from grace that we see today are people that are lone rangers, that feel like they're untouchable, that they don't need anybody else, that they haven't been honest with another person for a long, long time? Not only do I see it as preventative for major failure and the falling of leaders, but I see it as important for just the vitality of a life. You know, we do need people around us that we can be totally and completely honest with, that we can be candid about our struggles and our propensities and our sinful tendencies and the things that would trip us up, because if we don't have at least one person like that, we're much more susceptible to the work of the enemy. The enemy knows when we're alone. The enemy knows that we're lonely. The enemy knows that we're strident and prideful, and he’ll knock us down as quick as possible. I mean, that's what the enemy wants to do. So I think this issue of primary relationships, especially for Christian leaders today, and especially, I would say, for male Christian leaders, we need a place to be vulnerable and honest and candid about the condition of our soul and the needs of our heart and the struggles that we go through physically, sensually. Yeah, I think we need each other. We're not meant to live in isolation—no one is—but especially for Christian leaders. We need to take care of our soul, and we need to help each other take care of their soul.

Al: Yeah. It’s not a solo practice.

Steve: It isn’t.

Al: You know, I think about, in a recent podcast I've had with some key leaders, Jerry White was the leader of The Navigators for many years. You know, one of my mentors, I'll have to say, I'm going to actually see him soon at a conference. And, you know, he's in his mid-eighties and still traveling the world, doing ministry work. But he has a group of people that he's had now since college, so 50 years. Three other couples that they have lived life together that entire time, and they see each other multiple times a year. They even live in different states. They have quality time, where they press into each other's lives. And that's a bit of a Navigator tradition. Doug Nuenke, who just retired as their president of the U.S. Navigators, same thing. He has a group of people, and they talk with each other on a regular basis, and the purpose of that group is just to, “Doug, how are you doing?” And they’re people that are close enough to see how he and his wife are doing, that they can ask those kind of relational questions that wouldn't happen otherwise. Yeah, I think so.

Al: I trust you’re enjoying our podcast today. We’ll be right back after an important word for leaders.

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Al: And now, back to today’s special guest.

Who is it that we as leaders can say is that one person or group of people that we can we can share with on a very deep basis? Yeah.

Steve: So important, I believe.

Al: We’ve got to stop these issues that are hurting the faith of leaders that are blowing up, you know, at the height of their career. No question.

Steve: I know. No question.

Al: You know, in our work at BCWI, we think, Steve, that it's really important for leaders in developing a workplace culture that's flourishing. And you talk about creating a discerning culture and the role of a leader in that process. You know, so what kind of shifts does a leader need to make in order to create a discerning culture? So what would a leader do to create a discerning culture?

Steve: Yeah. I outline in my book a half dozen or so such shifts, and let me just mention a couple of them. I think we need to shift from a human-engineered to a Spirit-empowered organization. So instead of just relying on our own strength and our own greatest ideas, what does it mean for us to actually depend upon the Holy Spirit together? That's critical to this shift.

I think, secondly, we need to shift from a prayerless to a prayerful mindset and experience. And what I mean by that is it's not that Christian ministry teams don't pray. They pray, but it's more a perfunctory prayer or the opening prayer or the closing prayer. And I'm saying, no, this experience needs to be a prayerful mindset, that we’re Spirit empowered; we’re trusting in God; we keep looking to God; we want to interview the Spirit and become more prayerful.

I think we need to shift from this fast-paced approach to a God-paced approach. It's interesting that God is very comfortable with things taking 40 days or 40 years or even a whole generation to accomplish His purposes. And we think that everything has to be fast, and I don't think that that's healthy. Yes, there are going to be decisions that we make that are quick and decisive and agile and flexible. All of those words do matter. But there are many times we just need to slow down and pause and maybe even wait as we discern between options.

I think we need to shift from the strategic to the systemic. I think we're enamored by the strategic. But the systemic way of doing life and ministry is far deeper and more significant when we consider the systemic nature of even the way in which God has designed the seasons and growth patterns. I mean, you look out your window and you see a tree that's there. You can't pull that tree and force that tree to be bigger or greener or stronger than it is. You've got to let it systemically grow the way it's supposed to grow. And I think we get in trouble when we get our strategies and big ideas and it's all got to be bigger, better, bolder, new, next, now. I think we can get ourselves into trouble by thinking that we're the ones orchestrating the growth when it's God who is the orchestration leader of growth and maturity.

So I think these kinds of shifts, you know, shifting from being coerced to be more organic, shift from being static, to be more agile, I talk about these shifts, and it's much more of creating a discerning culture than a corporate culture. And I'm not against what the corporate world has taught us, but I am against it if it's the only thing that we're leaning on. I do think we need to be spiritual leaders. And so by being spiritual leaders, we are trusting in the Lord; we are looking to God; we are noticing God individually and collectively. And so it's a nuance. It may sound more nuance-ish, but it's actually pretty radical when you finally make the decision to move towards a discerning culture that's much more Kingdom minded and much more focused on how God grows lives and ministries like He grows trees and birds.

Al: I like what you say from—and it caused me to think about, so what do you actually mean from strategic to systemic? And, you know, and so systemic is, you know, well, there's kind of a natural, sustainable system that really creates things over time and not us, yeah. So, yeah.

Steve: Yeah. Not us, right.

Al: Yeah. So from human engineered to Spirit empowered, from prayerless to a prayerful mindset, from a fast paced to a God paced. Yeah, I love that. Maybe we wouldn't have 30-day goals; we would have 40-day goals.

Steve: Or 40 days’ experiences.

Al: Yeah, there you go. Yeah, right. Even better, yeah. Yeah, yeah.

Steve: Like the seasons are.

Al: Yeah, yeah.

So as we grow in how to live a discerning life, it could be countercultural—you've already described several countercultural approaches—what are some of the ways a leader might need to repattern what they say yes or no to as they're growing in discernment? Any thoughts on what a leader might need to repattern?

Steve: Yeah. I tell the story of being involved with my mother, actually, as a young child and an experience that was kind of a life shaper for me, when she and a group of other neighbors would go to the home of this disabled child, and they actually would do patterning exercises for this child who had a hard time moving arms and legs. And it was amazing how this child was helped by the repatterning of the way in which his legs and arms would move. And I remember seeing him on the playground, being able to interact more enjoyably, after having gone through this repatterning experience. And it marked me significantly that there are ways that we can indeed work toward a repatterning, a letting go of what was, and an embracing of what could be. And sometimes it takes help of others to come alongside us and help us to repattern the way in which we live our lives. And the repatterning means that we then need to know what we say yes to and what we say no to. When we say yes, it's got to be something that's helpful, that's life giving, that it's transformational, that it's God honoring. And we need to say no to things that, like, competition and this competitive spirit that's kind of destroying Christian ministries left and right, and churches, too, that are looking up the road and saying, “Well, we got to do it just like they did it.” No, not necessarily. You need to do it the way God wants you to do it and stop living in this comparison world where you're feeling bad about yourself because you're seeing someone that looks better than you or doing things more effectively than you. No, it's just God has His hand on you, and we need to trust that the true you will emerge by noticing what God's doing in your midst and in your heart and in your life. And that's individually and collectively.

So, Al, I think there's some repatterning that needs to go on, particularly related to the Kingdom of God. We're building up the Kingdom of God. We're not a part of building up the Kingdom of Earth. So what does it mean to follow Jesus and pattern our lives around His priorities, which were much more graced, much more loving, much more for the other person? You know, He died so that we can have life. How are we dying to ourselves in order to live more abundantly with and for Him? So I do think some repatterning is necessary, but I think it's the best way to go.

Al: Yeah. That's an interesting way to think about it. You know, any improvement, any change from a habit requires new and different behaviors.

Steve: It does.

Al: Even as I've lost a little weight here since the first of the year—

Steve: Good for you, man.

Al: —I’ve realized that—yeah—what you’re saying is I’ve repatterned myself where I’m not eating snacks between meals.

Steve: Yeah.

Al: And that requires a little bit of discipline, doesn't it?, I mean, this repatterning. You know, you have to have an idea of what it is, and then you have to put it into practice. Yeah.

Steve: Exactly, exactly.

Al: Well, one thing I appreciate about the discernment process that you describe is how prayer is infused in the process. And it isn't a step one, two, three, four, to step ten, but it's all the way through. Share with us what you have learned about prayer as you help leaders walk through that discernment process. And I know leaders are leaning in now to kind of hear, “Well, what can we learn?”

Steve: Yeah. I finally, by chapter eight, I get to a process.

Al: Mm, okay.

Steve: I had to hold the reins back even as I wrote the book because I was anxious to get to that place. I’d hold myself back. But I also hold the reader back because I really want to emphasize that to get to a process means that we're living a particular way with God and our particular way with one another. So it's a prayerful sense of noticing God and the prayer-closet experience of my personal journey and that it's in my ministry life, with the people around me, the boards, the board members, and the team members who are walking us together through life, and then as we work with churches and organizations. So chapter eight of my book The Discerning Life is all about a process, and it is ten questions. So it's ten phases or ten questions, depending on how you want to look at it, and it's bathed in prayer. So I will actually write into the process that we're taking it one step at a time. We're framing the question, we're gathering the team, we're releasing all of our biases and preconceived conclusions, and then we're beginning to assemble the facts, and we're critiquing and reviewing options, and then stating the reasons why not and the reasons why we are, and then deliberation and decision making. All of those steps are well articulated in the chapter and in the appendix at the back. Appendix A talks about the ten questions for leaders and teams. But in between each of those steps of the process is an invitation to pray. And even as I work with a church, for example, and I'm walking through the process, we will pause and we will say, “Now let's pray. And what are we noticing that God is revealing to us as we pray, as we listen, even as we sit quietly alone together?” What are we noticing, so that we're then interjecting in between the process what our prayers are inviting us to consider, what God is revealing to us. And it's amazing how it becomes the glue that holds the whole process together. Otherwise, it could just be perceived as jumping from one question to the next. Okay, let's address that. Okay, now let's address that. Okay, now let’s—and we just jump, jump, jump, jump, jump. And I'd rather have healthy pauses of prayerfulness that slow us down, quiet us down, to being more attentive to the move of God's Spirit. It's been revolutionary, actually, to help leaders and teams do this together.

Al: And when you do it, you actually are able to go so much faster, aren't you?

Steve: Yeah. Actually, it’s smoother.

Al: Yeah, right. Right.

Steve: It’s smoother. It may not be faster, but it’s definitely smoother because we’re noticing every step of the questions that we’re asking and seeking God’s revealed will to us from various options that are in front of us.

Al: Yeah.

Steve: I talk about, you know, decision making is really in three big categories. The one big category is the obvious. When the decision is obvious, you know, the building's on fire, you get out of the building. You don't sit and contemplate that or pray about that. You get out of the building. It's obvious.

The second time is when we just have to wait. When there's so much confusion or lack of clarity, you just got to let things settle for a while and maybe just wait. Now, we hate to wait. Most evangelicals that I know today hate to wait. Nobody likes to wait. And so I'll encourage people, for the next week, when you go to the grocery store, choose the longest line and purposefully wait. Waiting, actually, is really good for your soul. So figure out ways that you can wait. And that may be what the team is invited to do is just wait.

But then the third time of decision is when there's options. So when there's options, you have to discern between options. And that's what my chapter eight and my Appendix A is all about, is how to work through prayerfully, discerningly a big decision that's in front of you, that you have some options to consider, maybe a couple or maybe multiple.

But I've seen this process work over and over and over again. And I'm thrilled that it's finally in print, in The Discerning Life, because I can stand by it because I've seen it work in so many settings.

Al: Yeah, great.

Well, Steve, this has just been drinking from a firehose, a great conversation. I appreciate it. And we're all going to now go and reflect in a quiet space and discern what we've just heard.

Steve: Good.

Al: Yeah. But I, just going back, I loved what you said, you know, what discernment is and just having a wider knowledge of God to practice a preference for God in our lives. I mean, how often do we actually just sit and do that or even walk and do that, however it is that we do it? And to be attentive, you know, to the Word, to worship, to conversations, particularly with others, and to listen in that process. And we talked about the Sabbath. I love the way you said it. It's a turn key to a deeper life. And who doesn't want a deeper life, you know, one that's more meaningful? So what's the turn key? It's Sabbath. Just again, work, rest, rhythm. You know, a holy day. It's a commandment that God has outlined. I think of, also, just that we've discovered that discernment is relational. It's just not something between us and God. It's also with others. And do we have somebody that we can actually talk with? and how important that is. And then you gave us a number of shifts, ways to shift our thinking, that it’s human engineered instead of Spirit empowered. Leaders love to come up with ideas, and they're proud of their own ideas. And gosh, this is my idea; let's run with it. But, you know, that's not always the Spirit-empowered idea, is it?

Steve: Right.

Al: So, you know, let's have a prayerful mindset. Let's be God paced instead of fast paced. Let's be systemic instead of strategic. Let's be agile instead of static. Yeah, but just great words for us. And so, you know, even much more. So, and then, we get to the discernment process, as you describe in chapter eight. And I look forward to going back and reading that in more detail.

So, Steve, this has just been a great discussion, how we as spiritual leaders—and this is something that we run into a lot—how do we, you know, each of us in our leadership role, become more of a spiritual leader? And this has really been very helpful and instructive.

You know, as you reflect on our conversation, what else would you like to add that we haven't talked about?

Steve: Well, I just would emphasize the practicing a preference for God. That is my favorite definition of spiritual discernment. It comes from Reuben Job, one of my spiritual heroes. And I've been given permission to put a lot of his material about spiritual discernment and practicing a preference for God. In the back of my book—it's a 50-page appendix, actually—it's designed as a 40-day experience for the reader to do with a group of people, to pray into, what does spiritual discernment really look like as a lifestyle? And so I would strongly encourage our listeners to consider, how can they live a life that practices a preference for God? Let's prefer God. Can you imagine, if we preferred God each time we're together, how that would impact our friendships, our conversations, our worship, our witness, our service to others? So if nothing else, I'd love to really promote that phrase, practicing a preference for God. And that would be the lifestyle that I think is Kingdom minded and Kingdom focused and much more in tune with the way of Jesus. And that's where I want to go in my life, and that's where I know you want to go in your life, and I believe that it's probably where everyone who's listening wants to go. So let's go there together. Let's start this fresh movement of people living a discerning life and practicing a preference for God is the way to do it.

Al: That's great, Steve. Thanks. And I do want to remind our listeners of the title of Steve's book, The Discerning Life.

And Steve, I want to thank you for your contributions today. You know, again, it's just really refreshing. Most of all, I appreciate your commitment to the spiritual formation and needs of leaders and the soul care of leadership teams and churches and ministries and seminary students and much more, so thank you very much.

Steve: Thank you, Al. Thank you for your friendship. Thank you for your good work. And congratulations again on your excellent book. I was delighted to be asked to be one of your endorsers. So I endorse it, and I believe in it, and I’m grateful for it. So thank you for your excellent work.

Al: Thanks, Steve.

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