Develop a Seeker's Heart
- Monday, March 07, 2005
All human beings have an innate drive to seek meaning and hope. This drive is constantly at work in your life, even when you're not aware of it. The urge to seek is as automatic to the soul as breathing is to the body.
But sometimes, we humans aim too low in our quests, seeking after worldly things that can't fulfill the deep desires of our souls. It's only when we focus our search on God that we can develop the kind of hearts He wants us to have.
Here's how you can develop a seeker's heart:
Acknowledge that there is always more you can discover about God. Admit that your current knowledge of God is limited, that He is much too big to fit inside any mental boxes, and that you can keep learning more about God every day of your life and still not come close to learning all there is to know about Him.
Listen to your longings. Pay attention to the things for which you're longing. Consider whether your yearning for those things might be urging you to venture out in ways that will rekindle your excitement and reshape your life.
Move from answers to experience. Don't settle for a stagnant belief that you have the final answers to all questions in life. Don't arrogantly think that there isn't anything new you can learn. Instead, remain open to learning something from every new experience God brings your way. View the answers you currently have as steps on a ladder that lead you through experiences meant to draw you closer to God. Accept your human vulnerabilities and acknowledge your need for both God's grace and His power to help you keep changing for the better. Be with God in a relationship that isn't based on what you can figure out, but on what experiences you can share with Him. View each experience you have - even mundane ones - as spiritual pilgrimages. Invite God to use each situation to transform you. Schedule some regular times to get away by yourself in silence to pray about ways God wants you to grow. Write new insights you receive in a prayer journal.
Move from activity to meaning. Ask God to help you infuse every activity you do with a sense of wonder and passion. Look for expressions of divine goodness and beauty in everything you do. Don't avoid or hurry through the ordinary things in life; know that extraordinary insights can emerge from ordinary situations if you're expecting them. Know that the sacred is all around you, not just in big events or religious contexts. Understand that all action - even routine action - contains a sacred dimension. Anchor yourself in the present and be aware of what's going on around you. When you're bored, don't simply distract yourself by moving on to another activity. Instead, let boredom lead you to more deeply consider the present moment and find the sacred in the unexpected. Regularly notice the blessings God has given you, and thank Him for them. Be aware of your own mortality and strive to make the most of each moment God has given you.
Move from control to compost. Stop trying to control life; realize that it's beyond your control. Ask God - the One who is in control - to help you trust His wisdom and power more. Don't avoid life's messes. Understand that life is meant to be messy sometimes, like a compost pile, to help people grow. Know that the forces of the compost may look and smell bad, but they work together to bring about new growth and maturity. Realize that greater creativity can flow out of chaos and ambiguity. Understand that deeper faith can flow out of disillusionment and doubt. Be humble and flexible as God brings treasures out of the compost piles in your life. Embrace decay by dying to a preoccupation with your own agenda and allowing God's agenda to prepare you for a new season of growth.
Move from shadow to substance. Don't settle for meeting just a shadow of your potential in life. Reject shallow-minded thinking that focuses just on presenting a certain image to others. Instead, ask God to show you who you are and give you the courage to be true that knowledge as you make decisions. Be genuine and candid with others, without abandoning gentleness and kindness. Stop trying to be perfect and admit it's impossible. Don't be afraid to let other people see your pain and flaws; that's the only way they'll be able to see God's transforming power at work in your life. Build authentic friendships with trustworthy people who will encourage you and hold you accountable as you grow closer to God. Do the same for them.
Move from performance to expression. Don't waste your time and energy pursuing work that will only lead to temporary, performance-based rewards. Look beyond paychecks and status to rewards that have eternal significance. Rather than running after lesser things, decide to pursue God's purposes for your life by using the talents He has given you and expressing yourself in original ways to contribute to the world. Choose your work not on the basis of what riches or fame you might get from it, but on the basis of how well it will let you express the unique talents you have. Instead of focusing on your own ambitions or own trying to please other people, work to please God alone. Ask God to give you the peace you need to invest your time and energy in the right places. Practice prayer and Scripture meditation regularly.
Move from segregation to community. Know that you haven't been designed to seek alone. As you journey closer to God, travel in the company of other people whose own spiritual growth will complement and enrich your own. Ask others about what God is doing in their lives, and genuinely listen to them. Seek to learn from other people's experiences and perspectives. Accept the differences between yourself and others without being threatened by them. Share the story of how God is working in your life. Give others your respect and goodwill, remembering that God has made all people in His image.
Adapted from The Seeker's Way: Cultivating the Longings of a Spiritual Life by Dave Fleming, copyright 2005 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Published by Jossey-Bass, a Wiley imprint, San Francisco, Ca., www.josseybass.com.
Dave Fleming is a spiritual mentor and leadership coach, with a doctor of management in organizational leadership from the University of Phoenix. After 20 years in pastoral ministry, Dave now helps organizations maximize their potential in order to better serve the world around them. A contributor to and columnist for Leonard Sweet's Website, www.preachingplus.com, Dave is the author of Leadership from Unlikely Voices: People of Yesterday Speak to Leaders of Today and has written for leading magazines and journals, including REV and Strategy and Leadership.
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