The Virtual Clearness Committee-
I have long been envious of a great practice used by the Quakers. Since the 1600’s they have been using the Clearness Committee as a form of communal discernment that I happen to find beautiful. There is more than you would ever want to know about this practice here, written by Parker Palmer.
In general, the person seeking discernment describes their upcoming decision or problem as clearly as possible. Then they select 4-6 people to make up their committee. Ideally you are looking for people who know you in different ways and in different parts of your life.
If one of these is to go well, you must select the right people. You are looking for those who can ask really good questions. This is not the time to have someone who loves to give advice or already thinks they know what you should do with your life. The purpose is for the committee to help YOU discern what God is saying or doing and not what your friends think.
Virtual Clearness- So I have done previous versions of this and now I am attempting to do a virtual version. I really have some wise friends from different walks of life who happen to live far away. I am curious if it will be as powerful since we won’t be face to face, but I want to try. Instead of a 2-3 hour intense retreat, I want to have a longer, drawn out season of questions from friends near and far. These friends I am asking are more contemplative and thoughtful than I tend to be and I know they will also pray for me in the process.
I will be using Google Docs or Google Drive so the entire group can see the questions and responses in real time. If you have other ideas on how to do this virtually, let me know.
What do I need clearness for?
Let me invite you inside my head and heart. I have been in youth ministry for almost 15 years and I really love what God has shown me and continues to show me through young people. Being newly ordained in the Presbyterian Church has brought up several conversations about calling. Am I a life-long youth pastor or a church planter or a solo pastor or bait shop owner? In some ways it doesn’t matter what I’m doing in 10 years because I want to honor Christ and serve his people whether in the church or selling worms to fishermen. Yet, I am fidgety right now. Am I right where God wants me? I am interested in getting a Doctoral degree, but would I be doing this for the right reasons? I have never really been in one spot for more than 7 years my entire life. Springfield, MO for 7, Wilmington, NC for 7 and now I am approaching my 7th year here in Colorado, so is the fidgety-ness just a 7 year itch, or is God calling me to something else or deeper into something in my very midst? I don’t know, hence the Clearness Committee.
Finally, I have found in my life that the Holy Spirit often speaks through caring friends. This whole conversation may have little to do with “what’s next” and more to do with my lack of trust in my Heavenly father who has given me so many reasons to trust.
Let the adventure begin, Quaker style.