We Create a Space for Heart Preparation
In emotionally healthy planning and decision making, we don’t simply open meetings with prayer and then leap headlong into our agenda. We begin by creating a space for heart preparation. We intentionally step back from the distractions and pressures that surround us so we can discern and follow God’s will. This preparation takes place on two levels—personal heart preparation and team heart preparation.
Personal Heart Preparation: Before entering a meeting room, our first priority as leaders is to prepare our heart with God. How much time is needed? That depends on the level of the decision or plans being made and how much internal noise might be cluttering your inner life at the moment. The simple principle we follow at New Life is, the weightier the decision, the more time is required for preparation.
Jesus models this kind of heart preparation for us. Before choosing the Twelve, he stayed up all night (Luke 6:12-13). In order to discern the Father’s priorities in the midst of voices clamoring for him to stay in Capernaum, Jesus rose early in the morning for solitude (Luke 4:42-43). Jesus consistently engaged and then withdrew from people and the demands of ministry in order to pray alone (Luke 5:15). Perhaps most instructive of all is Jesus’ struggle to surrender to the will of his Father in Gethsemane. This is, I believe, one of the most significant planning and decision-making texts in all of Scripture. He struggled to surrender to the will of God, we can be sure we will as well.
Team Heart Preparation: In order to make good decisions, we begin our meetings—whether it be a weekly team meeting or an full-day planning meeting—by creating the necessary space for the team to center their hearts before God.
If I am leading the meeting, I’ll begin with two to three minutes of silence, or perhaps we might pray the Daily Office together. I may read a devotional reflection to center us in Christ. The purpose of these opening moments is to create an environment free of striving or manipulating outcomes so we can seek God’s will together.
When our staff team goes off site for one of our three planning retreats in the year (typically September, January and June), we may devote up to half the retreat time to allow team members to meet God personally before we gather to make plans. We like to begin every important planning retreat with a “being” experience before tackling the “doing” component of these longer meetings.