Our instinct as leaders is to find ways to do things that are productive and, hopefully, predictable. This is understandable and often helpful. But there is a technique mindset that can move us into an orientation in which we fail to pay attention to God’s guidance. Listen to some thoughts on this from Marva Dawn:
“As Jacques Ellul noted, it is not technology that is a problem; it is the Technique, the technological mind-set that deceives us into thinking that if we get just the right technological fix we will solve our problems. If we choose just the right style of music, we’ll attract great crowds to our churches. If we use the right methods, our youth group will grow. If we develop a good gimmick, our Vacation Bible School will be the fastest growing in the world!” (Dawn, Marva & Eugene Peterson. The Unnecessary Pastor: Rediscovering the Call. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2000, p. 97.)
Technique, as Ellul seems to put it, is that orientation whereby we expect to find some approach or method that, once established, provides predictable and positive results. Techniques, as it relates to the spiritual life and ministry, can create a situation in which a divine surprise would be an unwelcome intrusion rather than a desired gift.
Such a “technique” approach would have rendered Paul oblivious to the voice of the Spirit saying “No” to his travel to Asia or Bythinia (Acts 16:7). What if he kept on going with the conviction that he was obeying a clear command of Jesus to “go preach the gospel to all nations,” that the region of Asia was one of those nations, and the only thing left was to go?
How do we learn to do our work with energy and enthusiasm, as well as with a heart attuned to the guidance of God’s Spirit? How do we learn to work with the Lord in our lives and follow God’s lead in our work? What unexpected word of counsel or direction might God be wishing to speak to us for our good and the good of those we wish to serve?