I hear the protests now. “If we have to think about how everyone will be impacted, nothing will get done.” “You are advocating analysis that leads to paralysis.” But here’s the thing. Jesus tells us that we are to love others as we love ourselves. Self-love is good love WHEN it is constrained by love for others. The Golden Rule applies: do to others what you want done to yourself.

So, go slow in threshold times. Bring others into that space, not to confirm your already- made decision, but who will see with the eyes and ears of the heart, with compassion, concern, and clarity. They are the ones who, when we think our only choices are to go forward or backward, can help us discover that perhaps God is calling us to go in a whole new direction.

Consider these types of people:

  • Barnabases who encourage you
  • Nathans who confront you
  • Jonathans who soul-mate you
  • Pauls who father you 7

I have a spiritual director, a wise woman in her early 70’s, who helps move me slowly through threshold times. Her careful listening and incisive questions cut through the delusions and illusions to which I am vulnerable during threshold times. She helps me understand when I mistake fervor for faith and fear for Holy Spirit caution.8

Young leaders may not need spiritual directors (I believe strongly though that older leaders do need them), but they need soul-friends who function in much the same way a director does. In her book, Hearing From the Heart, Debra Farrington identifies 4 key characteristics of soul-friends: They know how to listen and are unafraid of silence. They ask questions rather than give advice. They are good observers, watching for patterns. They admit they don’t have all the answers (“I told you so” is not part of their vocabulary).9

CONTEMPLATIVE DISCIPLINES: Detachment and Discernment, The Dark Night, Expanding Theology

The Contemplative Discipline of Detachment and Discernment

Threshold times are giving-up times; we let go of something in order to grab ahold of something else. For this we need what Desert Elders called detachment. A good sign of a disordered affection is an unwillingness to be detached. Detachment is not apathy, it is an open

7 Forgive the male only references here. Yet this is deliberately done because I believe men need to be more intentional about building relational equity than women.
8 It is best to get a referral for a spiritual director. You can’t always tell their religious or denominational affiliation by where they got trained. I know evangelicals who got trained in spiritual direction in ecumenical settings, and non-­‐evangelicals who got trained in evangelical settings. It is always a good idea to interview a prospective director. They expect you to do so.
9 Hearing with the Heart: A Gentle Guide to Discerning God’s Will for Your Life, by Debra Farrington, 2002.