I am going to make a pronouncement.
Chapters 5 and 6 from Facing Danger: A Guide Through Risk by Dr Anna E Hampton should be mandatory reading for:
- Everyone on the field
- Everyone who screens people to go to the field
- Everyone in leadership or member care for those on the field
To review: everyone.
For those who have not gotten Facing Danger yet, Chapter 5 is entitled Listening for God’s Voice in the Risk Moment. She started off with hearing the Holy Spirit through seven sources:
- Security consultants
- The communities around us (local and expat)
- The Bible
- The Holy Spirit’s voice
- Those in authority over us
- Dreams and visions
I marked three places in “One guiding principle” and put two exclamations in my notes by page 68. “Often I see the emphasis in theology-of-risk discussions focusing on what Paul did in a variety of situations. It would be easy to tell someone that since Paul fled a situation, they should also flee. Likewise, to tell someone to remain because that is what Paul did is equally inadequate. Instead, our primary focus here needs to be on how he heard the Holy Spirit.”
From the same section, “The Holy Spirit’s leading is the one overarching guide in risk analysis and management. This is why it is so important to know how we each uniquely hear his voice and discern how he is speaking in each situation. One of the ways God matures us is that he creatively speaks to us differently in different situations and at different stages of life. He wants us to learn to pay attention and to develop the eyes of our hearts. He may even speak to our emotions.”
What I am drawn to is the way Dr. Anna keeps pointing us, not to a formula, but to God and to discernment. She also emphasizes the interior world. When it comes to discernment, are you moving towards or away from God inwardly? On the outside, you may look like you have it all together. I understand the need in some forums, say Facebook to appear put together. But in other situations where it is appropriate to let your guard down and be honest about moving towards or away from God, are you able to? Can you let your guard down? If moving away from God inwardly, can you ask questions like the one Dr. Anna asked?
“How am I increasing or decreasing in faith, hope, and love?”
I wrote “Boom!” in my notes next to this quote: “Over-spiritualization is one of the most common tendencies of those immature in the faith or those unwilling to face their sin. Those with the spirit of pride will often blame the demonic realm instead of accepting their sinful contributions to the problem.” Again, Dr. Anna is advocating for spiritual maturity and growth of behalf of all of us.
The questions she asked in “Making Decisions in Risk When Confused” are ones to be starred and returned to when in risk. Knowing such a list exists is helpful.
Chapter six looks at spiritual maturity, building on the need for spiritual discernment in times of risk. I do not recall hearing that God’s question to Adam and Eve in the garden after they had eaten the fruit was about surprise, not location. And that He cried from the depth of His heart! “In pain he howled, ‘Where are you? Why are you hiding from me?’ He was communicating the devastating grief he felt over the separation that now existed between humans and himself.”
What did you think of her description of spiritual maturity and the movements it involves? Does your organization talk with you overtly about spiritually maturing? Or is the focus on how you are spiritually doing? The questions she asked in “diagnosing our awareness of spiritual maturity” were helpful and I have marked them as a resource.
I appreciated the distinctions she made in how people describe their spiritual journey—and for some the need to have more biblical literacy and for others more spiritual awareness. In the conclusion to six foundational components to our relationship with God, I liked: “Instead of suggesting that field workers need to ‘just have faith,’ a better question to ask is this, which of the six foundational components do you need at this time to begin cultivating a regular basis for your own faith to grow?” Yes. Just yes.
Another rich section, friends! I look forward to your thoughts, insights, and questions in the comments.
P.S. Next week chapters 7 and 8.