In order to best illustrate the steps that I’ll describe later, let me first tell you about a very personal situation that happened to me almost a year ago. This is a deeply personal and convicting situation that has greatly impacted me over the past year. Immediately following this situation, I frequently asked myself what do I do with God’s conviction laid on me at the time.
The story goes like this…
I believe that all followers of Christ are called to serve him and share him with others. However, I believe some followers of Christ are called into a deeper ministry and deeper commitment to share the love of Christ with others – most refer to this as vocational ministry. A few years ago my wife and I acknowledged to our families, friends, and church that we felt Christ was placing this deeper calling on us; thus we began to prepare. I entered seminary on a part time basis, since I was still employed full time. Not knowing exactly how and in what type of ministry Christ wanted us to serve, I entered a graduate program focused on Christian leadership. All the while I assumed eventually to be led into a pastorate or staff position within a church.
Shortly after graduating, I was approach by a local church to consider filling the role of pastor. I never sensed a demand to actively seek a ministry position, but considered a church coming to me as possibly a God thing – so I proceeded with the interview process with the personnel committee of the church. It was in the final interview step that I received what I believe is the greatest conviction I’ve ever felt. During that final interview, which is often just a formality, the personnel committee met with both me and my wife. It was during that interview that my wife said something that I’d heard her say before, but it never registered with me like it did this time. She stated that she has often struggled with the fact that she doesn’t seem to be maturing or growing as a follower of Christ. At that very moment, God spoke to me in the thought; “you’ve been married for 20 years, what have you been doing all this time”.
In that moment, I realized that I had received a conviction that I must turn into action. I’ll share some of the actions that I took in response to this conviction as I describe the 6 steps to follow in order to turn a conviction to action.
Write it down
This probably seems simple or even unnecessary, but it is critically important. My wife and I are both task oriented people, we operate from a list. However, she writes her list down, whereas I just keep it in my mind (at least I try to keep it in my mind). You know where this is going. She is much better at completing her tasks because she writes them down. Writing down the details of your conviction forces you to reflect upon the conviction. Writing it down will uncover information and details that otherwise would have likely been overlooked.
The night of my particular situation, I took to my computer to capture a list of comments, thoughts, and questions that plagued me. Writing down the details of my particular situation helped me to conclude that I had to remove myself from consideration with the church with which I was dealing. Writing down the details also helped me to realize that I had to focus on my family and fulfill my role as spiritual leader.
Pray about it
This one seems obvious, but it must be stated here because I realize that we men usually overlook this step; or relegate it to a last resort. Notice that I placed prayer second only to writing it down. First write down the details for memory sake, then pray about each of those details. Prayer forces us to articulate the conviction and represents an acknowledgement of the conviction. Prayer also causes us to pause, be still, be quiet, and allow Christ to speak into our life regarding the conviction.
It was through prayer that I discovered more aspects of my conviction that I had not written down as I reflected upon the situation. During prayer, Christ revealed how I had been playing church, working hard to bless others, and totally abdicating the spiritual growth of my family.
Start with the Bible, then dig into other resources related to the topic of your conviction. Living in the world we do today, pleading ignorance on a topic is a complete cop-out. Through books, audio, and internet, we have access to the information needed.
My study led me to many Bible verses are were familiar, but are now very dear to my heart. It also led me to some books to which I’ve provided links in the notes below.
Men are prideful, so consulting others over a conviction certainly doesn’t come naturally. The Bible is clear (Proverbs 11:14, 15:22, 24:6) that consulting with others brings wisdom to a situation. You never know, those consulted just might have similar situations and convictions from their past and can offer real experience.
I received further confirmation that I was putting on a good mask during my consultation with spiritual leaders in my life. Their reactions and comments made it clear that I was pretending to lead my family well, but the realities inside the walls of our home told a different story.
Life is just too busy to assume that the greatest of desires will get accomplished if they aren’t well planned out. It’s simple, what isn’t planned will not happen. Take the time to define the steps of your plan and put those steps on your calendar.
I had the greatest of intentions for several months to begin addressing my shortcomings as spiritual leader, but it didn’t actually happen until I placed it on my daily agenda.
Tell others about it
Accountability is necessary to ensure follow through. Tell those that will be impacted by your plan what to expect. Simply knowing that others are expecting action will often push us forward to follow through with our plan.
For months, I thought is was best to keep my plans a secret from my wife and just hope she was well pleased with my actions to fulfill my role as the spiritual leader of our family. However, I doubt that she could even identify my feeble attempts. Recently, I shared with her my desire to step up. Sharing that desire with her has certainly help me with follow through.
How about you? Have you experienced a conviction that you haven’t turned into action? What is holding you back from taking the necessary actions? Share you questions, comments, concerns, & cries of outrage with us in the comments below.
Additional Show Notes:
Correction: The podcast references Ephesians 6 in the explanation of spiritual leadership responsibilities of men. The correct biblical reference is Ephesians 5:25-30.
Correction: In the previous podcast, I mentioned that my oldest child celebrated her 13th birthday in January. Her birthday is actually in July. This was simply a case of the mouth not saying what the mind is thinking. Contrary to her beliefs, I do remember my daughter’s birthday.