“In this quest to seek and find God in all things, there is still an area of uncertainty. There must be. If a person says that he met God with total certainty and is not touched by a margin of uncertainty, then this is not good.”
We are often asked how we measure success. As an apostolate that focuses on leadership, we are nearly obsessive about SMART goals, the “S” being specific and measurable. Occasionally, the question goes beyond how we measure, to really asking for us to guarantee. Several years ago, after one particularly frustrating conversation in which I felt like I was being asked to predict the future and promise ridiculous results, I had a mini-anxiety attack and quickly self-diagnosed the beginnings of a savior complex. I decided it was time for something that I had been putting off for a while – spiritual direction. Within about 4 minutes of talking, my spiritual director opened her bible to the Temptation of Christ in the desert. She asked me what the Devil was tempting Jesus to do. I answered literally, turn stones into bread, jump from the temple roof, etc. She shook her head no. Satan was tempting Jesus to prove it. She leaned in, “Dan, you have to ask yourself, “Am I doing this to be faithful or to prove it? Faithfulness is of God. Proving it is not.”
It’s true, what gets measured, gets managed. Is my measurement meant to help me refine and improve my faithfulness or is it about winning? In my prayer life, do I wait for guarantees of success and become disappointed with insufficient rates of immediate return? Am I asking for God to prove His ability before I exercise mine? It strikes me the early disciples had a pretty clear SMART goal – “Go and make disciples of all nations.” At first glance we might doubt the “Attainability,” but then we’d be forgetting what past performance would tell us about future possibilities.