Going With the Flow

by Curt Taipale

The popular Charismatic phrase – “flowing with the Spirit” – has caused more harm and more strife and more heartache than probably any other phrase in the Christian's vocabulary I can think of. There have been times when there I was, happily busting my rear to get a particular audio ministry job done, only to hear the immortal Charismatic church trademark of “oh, by the way, we're changing this, this, this and this – can you be set up in ten minutes!?!”

Now, no one here is any more willing to make last minute changes that will make a positive difference to the production at hand than I am. I've proven that time and time again, to the point that it should be accepted as part of my easy-going manner. The one thing that does stir me up, however, is when those last minute changes are made on a whim, especially without counsel from or considering the needs of those who will have the job of making it happen.

Here’s where that classic catch phrase gets misused. The response to my questioning such an ill-considered idea will be something like “well, ya gotta go with the flow of the Spirit”. Excuse me? This often has nothing to do with flowing with the Spirit. This has to do with sheer irresponsibility and poor planning on the part of the whim makers.

So how do you know it’s God and not a whim in disguise? Check your heart. Did you get a witness in your heart that what they had to share was right on? If your walk is on track, and you’re seeking God, you’ll know in your knower whether to jump in or stand back. But keep your eyes on God. Perhaps the person you are dealing with has a history of textbook “oh, by the ways”. Satan and “human nature” will try to get you to remember their poor track record. Don’t fall for it. Keep your heart pure and God will straighten it the situation out eventually. That’s His job – let Him do it.

It would help everyone if you would setup guidelines for communicating changes, and then follow them. You DO have some means of communicating the plans for the service and other meetings, don’t you!?! Include some provision on that paperwork for revisions to those plans, and please make sure to include everyone involved, even if you don’t think it would matter to them. It just might. At the very least, they will appreciate your attempt at keeping the lines of communication open.

The reason I share this is that I know for a fact that I’m not the only one who has gone through this. If you know you’re right, don’t let Satan throw feelings of guilt on your heart simply because you challenged the viewpoint of some decision maker above you. There may be little you can do other than grit you teeth, forgive them, and proceed with the demand, ’er, request. On the other hand, if you know for a fact that sheer irresponsibility on someone else’s part has created this situation, and you are faced with cancelling your long-planned night out with your wife in favor of following through with their request, then the thought of mutiny should not be discounted.

I remember the time when I had worked especially long hours taking care of the sound needs through the week, and the head of the youth ministry approached me on my way out the door Sunday afternoon asking me for the first time if I was going to be there later that night to do sound for their annual get together. They had planned this for months. Every detail had been thought through and taken care of. Why didn’t they request technical support well in advance as well? That’s just common courtesy. In such a time as this, remember that it’s also okay to say no. In God’s own list of priorities, your ministry and even your job is below your responsibility to your family.

You workaholics (like me) are going to defend your actions by suggesting that “it’s just one night”. Oh yeah? Ask your wife about that. I married one of the most understanding women on the planet. I’ve seen my fair share of candlelit, romantic dinners that were unlit and cold when I finally got home. Remember that there is a proper time to stand up for your rights, to remind even the pastor if need be that the great I Am set those priorities; likewise, there is a time when flowing with the Spirit of the God of the Universe must take priority. At that point you have a responsibility to heed the call. Still, I have to wonder how many divorces that old misused “flowing with the Spirit” line has caused. Now that’s a real witness to the world, eh?

Copyright 1997. Taipale Media Systems. All Rights Reserved.