Merton drops some great wisdom on us when he writes, “The most important part of a person’s education is the formation of a conscience that is capable of seeing God’s will in this correct light, and guiding the response of that person’s own will in strong, prudent and loving decisions. So to live is true wisdom” (p. 27 in Bridges to Contemplative Living). Merton has shown us what we are to shoot for as ministry leaders: finding ways to form our conscience so we can see God’s will correctly. As followers of Jesus I am sure we all have felt it difficult to know God’s will for our lives. I have struggled with this from time to time.
Some of the “Directives for the Interior Life” that Thomas a Kempis gives us in his book, The Imitation of Christ, seem to help us develop that conscience to see God’s will and have the ability to make decisions to follow it. Kempis tells us “the interior man places his spiritual welfare before everything else, and because he diligently attends to himself he does not gossip about the actions of others. You will only arrive at a devout inner life by watching over yourself and by being silent with regard to others” (p. 53). Reading Kempis’ words helps to remind me that I need to focus on God and I together and allow the rest of the world to fall into place. When I start to think of how messed up parts of our world are, I begin to judge others and become pessimistic. Instead, I should seek to be “interior” by placing my spiritual life with God as an important part of my life and allow that to guide the decisions I make, which inadvertently will positively affect the world.