Dallas Willard often mentioned a book that was one of his favorites: Lawson’s Deeper Experiences of Famous Christians. I read it again recently and came across this little paragraph about the difference between surrender and self-abandonment:
A will surrendered is not always a will abandoned.
“…as Madam Guyon says, ‘A will surrendered is not always a will abandoned.’ Many who have surrendered their wills to God are still anxious to carry out their own plans and ambitions, and are greatly vexed when their plans are thwarted.” (Lawson, James Gilchrist. Deeper Experiences of Famous Christians. Uhrichsville, OH: Barbour Publishing, Inc., 1999, p. 99.)
Personally holy, vocationally unholy.
Guyon wants to distinguish between surrender and abandon. I’m not sure that distinction makes sense to many American Christians. Maybe this is like Eugene Peterson’s idea of the possibility of being personally holy, but vocationally unholy. There is a kind of personal surrender that affects one’s life, but when it comes to vocation, ministry and leadership, many of us are still attached to our own plans and visions for God that they believe are good and will be blessed by God.
Abraham’s premature initative.
This would sound like a meaningless subtlety to many leaders, but from where I stand it is a theme that comes up so often in the Old Testament especially. Abraham just knows that taking initiative with Hagar is something God will bless because Abe is just helping God fulfill his promise. The “what” is something God said would happen. Abraham, though, decided on a “how” that was not at all on God’s heart and, in fact, grieved God.
How we grow the church.
There isn’t much difference between this and some of the ways we “grow the church” because God wants more and more people to come to trust Jesus. So these leaders equate whatever it takes to get more people coming as a way of fulfilling the kingdom intentions of Jesus. They are not at all a necessary overlap.
Is there something you feel rather clearly called by God to do? Have you considered whether God also has something to say about how it is to be done?