I came across this little paragraph by Marva Dawn and Eugene Peterson in their discussion of how our methods of Christian leadership can pull us away from God’s call rather than drawing us closer to God. Listen to what they say:
“Ephesians 6:11 reads literally, ‘Clothe yourselves with the panoply of God for you to continue being able to stand firm against the methods of the diabolical one.’… The original Greek word is actually methodia, which is used only twice in the New Testament–both times in Ephesians and both times pejoratively. What does Paul mean here by ‘methods,’ and why is the term methods a negative one? His rare use of the word causes me to contemplate how often our methods in our ministries and churches pull us away from our true call. How easily our methods degenerate into practices not of God, but of the diabolical one!” (Dawn, Marva & Eugene Peterson. The Unnecessary Pastor: Rediscovering the Call. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2000, p. 94-95.)
We can find ourselves defaulting to predictable methods of getting things done that give us a false sense of freedom from being dependent on God’s real and present intervention. I find that part of me prefers the predictability of “what works” over the unpredictability of a more dependent-on-God approach to my life and my work.
I identify a method that works, for whatever reason and to whatever end, and then I keep using that method just because it “works”. Perhaps the method was even born of divine inspiration, but the way I use it seems like cutting a rose so I can carry it with me. It remains beautiful and lively for a season, but eventually it withers because it has become detached from its source of life.
Question: What are some methods you use that have proven to help you draw nearer to God in your work? What are some methods that, if you’re honest with yourself, end up creating more distance from God?