Monday, October 8, 2012

On Outrunning Your Guide

[An edited version of an email I sent to a Friend recently, posted with permission.]

Dear Friend,

When we spoke, you said that you were worried that you may have outrun your guide in giving vocal ministry.  I have a number of responses to that.  As usual, take what is useful and leave the rest!

First, I have not had any sense of you outrunning your guide when I have heard you speak.  Your messages have felt grounded and encouraging and have spoken to my condition.

As for whether you have outrun your guide elsewhere, I don't know.  Here are some things that have been useful for me when I have been worried that I spoke in error.

One is that we never know who the message is for, even when we think we do.  Giving a message is like tossing out seeds, which fall on all sorts of soil.  The question, as always, is whether you were faithful with what you were given.

If there is a particular time that you feel you may have outrun your guide, it may be useful to find someone who was there, who you trust to be honest with you, and ask how that message felt to him or her.  Afterward, sit with the Friend's response and see how it feels to you.

The minister does not have sole responsibility for the message.  It is the responsibility of the meeting to hold the space, support the minister, and receive the message. That is one of the reasons I try to leave space before and after I give a message―to invite Friends to help me.  Sometimes I explicitly ask for that help.

Finally, even if you have outrun your guide, that's okay.  Ministry is messy!  The sense of outrunning your guide means that you are using your gifts at the edge of your ability, which is a way to grow.  God forgives us every time we make mistakes, and those mistakes give us an opportunity to forgive ourselves.  Then we pick ourselves up and try again at faithfulness.

That was probably much more of a response than you had in mind!  It was helpful for me to write it out, though, so thank you for giving me the opportunity.  I am grateful for our talk and I look forward to talking with you again soon.




  1. I wrote a blog post in response to your post. thanks for your thoughtful and compassionate words.

    1. Thanks for sharing your post here, Victoria!


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