he Doer’s Lists
It seems as if I’ve always been a doer. Getting things done, reaching goals, and achieving results is a very real part of my wiring diagram. That “performance” paradigm caused me to always maintain four lists: office, home, hobbies, and church.
One day a significant change came to one of my lists. It was August 22, 1989. At 11:00 a.m. the president of our company walked into my office and quickly closed the door (always an ominous sign!). He matter-of-factly explained to me that not only was business soft (which I knew) but that the sudden loss of a significant government defense contract meant that the company had to make major cutbacks. “Nothing personal,” he said, “but we can no longer afford a director of corporate development.”
With unexpected time freed up, our family decided to take a week to visit family and friends in Grand Rapids, Michigan. On the way we stopped by to see longtime friends in Ann Arbor and East Lansing.
In Ann Arbor my first spiritual mentor, Bill, suggested that we get up early the next morning to pray over my new situation. Bill started that time by asking, “Tell me what you’re thinking.” I launched into a soliloquy of possibilities. When my monologue was over, I asked Bill for his reactions. His response surprised me.
Bill observed that he had been around businessmen for thirty years. To him they all seemed to be cut from the same cloth; wired to be doers preferring to function with plates overflowing with commitments and demands. Take one plate away, he observed, and they would quickly try to find a new plate and fill it up as fast as possible. “Doug,” he went on to observe, “if I could desire one thing for you right now, it would be this, take sixty days and do nothing but sit at the feet of Jesus.” Bill’s observations caught me by surprise. I couldn’t argue with it. But I wasn’t convinced.
The Challenge Echo
Arriving in East Lansing the next day was “instant replay.” Shortly after arriving, Mark, a longtime brother in Christ, said, “Tell me what you’ve been thinking.” I responded by repeating my Ann Arbor monologue, to which Mark observed, “Doug, if I could push the buttons for you right now, I would love to have you spend the next two months just sitting at the foot of the Cross.”
Hearing the same desire twice within twenty-four hours forced me to accept this as coming from the Lord. But there was a slight problem. I had no idea what it meant to “just be before the Lord”! What was my task? More important, what was the goal? And what would I do?
I knew I couldn’t duck this sixty-days-before-the-Lord challenge; the leading from the Spirit was too clear. But how would it be perceived by others? I had been given four months of severance pay. Could I take half of that time and literally do “nothing”? Would my wife think I had lost my marbles? Would my friends and neighbors think I was being irresponsible? Would anyone at church even understand? More fundamentally, could I even do it?
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