What You Won’t Hear Christian Leaders Say—And Why That Makes All the Difference


NOT overheard at a local church board meeting, parachurch ministry press conference, year-end megachurch round table, or big Christian conference:

“We’re not going to make plans, set goals, commit to any programming, buy any teaching materials, start any further ministries, hire or fire any staff, or even talk about the future until we see what the Father is doing.”

No, that’s not something you’re going to hear any time soon—despite the words of Jesus:

So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise….”
—John 5:19

How is it possible then that we consider ourselves better than our Lord by acting without first checking to see what the Father is doing?

It seems to me that we Christians in America would be far more effective in nearly everything we do if we stopped with the Type-A personalities, stopped all the works that aren’t working,Seeking God and instead did whatever it took to see what the Father is doing—and then did it.

If that means prayer for months on end, calling an all-church/ministry/organization fast, and actually practicing the revelatory gifts of the Holy Spirit, then that’s what we do. Then maybe we American Christians would see some success and see a changed nation.

Because if we’re truly doing what we see the Father doing, that thing He is doing WILL be effective, and all the more so when the Body of Christ gets on board.

It seems so simple. Why then do we not do this? Why do we charge ahead and waste time on works that God is not in?

The answer: We’re spiritually lazy and unwilling to let our laziness be found out.

Jesus didn’t see what the Father is doing by any means other than a deep prayer life and listening to the Holy Spirit. You can’t fake that, though, and expect to see what the Father is doing. Sadly, many churches, parachurch ministries, and national-stage Christian leaders make the attempt.

Which is how we’ve gotten to this place of disparity where our nation is brimming with Christians yet they have little or no effect on the culture and society at large.

What if a church was bold enough to drop all the worthless running around and instead prayed, fasted, and learned to hear the voice of the Spirit for the purposes of understanding what the Lord is doing? What if a parachurch ministry said, “Honestly, we’ve been wasting your donations because we didn’t first check to see what God was doing before we barged ahead with our plans”? What if a nationally known Christian leader said that he was going to take a year off to seek God so as to know what He is doing so that leader could present that to his followers?

I keep hoping to see this happen, but I’m not getting any younger.

15 thoughts on “What You Won’t Hear Christian Leaders Say—And Why That Makes All the Difference

  1. Isn’t that what John Piper did/is doing?

    You main point is valid. Even on an individual level, we fail to practice the leading of the Holy Spirit.

    • It looks like the block quote didn’t work. What I was trying to quote was “What if a nationally known Christian leader said that he was going to take a year off to seek God so as to know what He is doing so that leader could present that to his followers?”.

      I thought that this was something that John Piper did or was doing. Francis Chan comes to mind as well. However, the majority of the Christian leaders don’t seem to be practicing it.

      • Don,

        Ouch! Right between the eyes comes the stone that fells the giant (which is what a friend called me yesterday).

        You’re right about Piper. His announcement had slipped my mind.

        Now if several thousand others would join him!

        • Well, not to always be the contrarian, but one of the first things I thought when I heard about the national leader taking a year off was: Hey, I could do that, too, if my income were guaranteed! 🙂

  2. Brant

    Right on. I wonder, though, if there aren’t other reasons for this beyond laziness. Shoot, the lack of seeking the Father’s direction like this probably makes us much busier, indeed, and we like it that way.

    Other reasons might include egos, control, fear of loss of influence or income, etc. God might reveal His plan to just anyone, after all. Might not be the experts.

    • Brant,

      You’re right on too!

      I think the last fear is of spending all that time and not getting the revelation. I think that paralyzes people too.

      I think that means that we should wait just a bit longer, but as a noted musician once sang, “The waiting is the hardest part.”

  3. alan

    Beautifully stated, Dan. Among other worldly influences, the church in the USA has also succumbed to the culture’s hyper-emphasis on quantifiable achievements. After church leadership decides what they want to do, a perfunctory prayer asking God’s blessing is offered. This is as close as many churches get to truly seeking to follow the cloud.

  4. This is a great discussion. It is very difficult, even on just an individual level, to be in such a close fellowship with God where we can see what He’s doing and/or wait for Him to show us. Yet that is what each of His followers is called to day after day.

    Working through “Experiencing God” by Henry Blackaby has really brought this truth home for me. I just wish it wasn’t so dang hard! Being busy with new projects seems so easy to do compared with staying still and experiencing our Lord’s presence; to actually walk with Him.

    • Hey, Adam, thanks for commenting! It’s been almost 20 years since Wheaton.

      Too many of us shy away from what is difficult to do spiritually. In truth, those things aren’t difficult, but they require time, which is something we don’t manage well in America 2010.

      • I agree; if the time was set aside to interact with God it really wouldn’t be that hard. Making the time is the rub.

        I look forward to reading more on here!
        (BTW, 20 years…! Thx for making me feel old, Dan… 😉

  5. I think part of it is ingrained in the Protestant work ethic and the guilt complex we feel over “doing nothing.” For example, usually when I hear a prayer about beseeching the Lord of the harvest to send workers into the field, the message is implied, if not stated outright, that YOU are (or could be or should be) the answer to that prayer. Which then precludes the reason for praying. I shouldn’t have to pray about it. Just get out there and start working!

  6. Joshua Hoeft

    Dan. I really appreciated reading your thoughts here, and I have to admit that I am as guilty in this regard as anyone else. Outside of the church, in my own daily life, how often am I following the Father and doing what I see Him doing? Perhaps us leaving Him out of church decisions and action-items is a reflection of putting Him in a corner in our daily prayer/quiet time (if we have them) and relegating Him to that time alone.

    Thanks again. This provided me the opportunity to repent of that, and I am excited for the reminder to walk with Him right now today.

  7. I think Philippians 3 is instructive in this regard. I think we spend too much of our lives fitting God into our life as it already exists, instead of being willing to look at our lives in view of the cross, and begin laying things down to follow Him more closely. Even seemingly innocuous things like sports and drinking coffee (something the Lord has curtailed in my life lately, not saying these should apply to everyone). I believe as we would do that, we would find it much easier to hear the direction of the Father, and a year off wouldn’t be necessary. I also think we would find our lives taking a drastically different direction than we ever anticipated. Paul seems to make a direct connection between gaining Christ and dying to self. If we don’t die to self, and this doesn’t always mean dying just to sin, we won’t gain more of Christ. (See specifically Philippians 3:8)

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