Pursuing God's Will Together by Ruth Haley Barton
In my novel, the religious order is committed to making decisions using a technique of Reflective Listening Visualization (RLV). To illustrate this process, I have drawn heavily on Ruth Barton’s extraordinary guide to decision-making within a religious community. This may be the most important and influential book you ever find on the subject for Christian leadership teams. When compared to the processes typical for secular decision making Pursuing God’s Will Together offers a radical alternative that is both challenging and compelling.
In its broadest definition, leadership discernment is the ability to recognize and respond to the presence of God.
Corporate leadership, then, is the ability to recognize and respond to the presence of God as a leadership team. The message behind the practice is both deceptively simple as well as wildly disruptive: “If we are not pursuing God’s will together as a leadership team, what are we pursuing? Our own will?”
Barton’s book is comprehensive and provides step-by-step instructions for each phase of the process, including two especially relevant practices for assisting leadership teams to become more deliberate and open to the process; the Prayer of Indifference and the Prayer for Wisdom. The first seeks to strip away the team’s inherent biases and place them in a receptive posture to receive God’s will. The second is an act of humility that admits to God and the other team members that we lack something essential to address the specific problem. So we ask God to meet us and to help us so that we understand clearly what is needed before taking action.
In my article on Christian Leadership, I explore how Barton’s process can be integrated into a leadership team’s decision-making process even when the organization possesses a multi-cultural workforce. It is not too much to say that this fabulous book has altered how I view decision-making in a Christian context.