Sacred Pace: 4 Steps to Discerning God’s Will in Your Decisions / Step 4 – Get Neutral
By Terry Looper, author of Sacred Pace: Four Steps to Hearing God and Aligning Yourself with His Will (W Publishing, 2019).
God uses these first three steps of a sacred pace to help open our hearts to the vital question: “What do you want me to do, Jesus?” This is so important, because I’ve found that the longest distance in our life with Christ is that 18 inches or so between the mind and heart.
To reach this point, where you actually want what God wants for you more than your own solution, may seem like an odd goal. But the decision to slow your pace until the most subtle desires of your flesh have been graciously neutralized is what perfectly positions you to receive the answers to your prayers: the gift of God’s will!
I call this fourth step “Getting Neutral.” Theologically speaking, it’s called “dying to self,” and it involves letting God work in us to clear out both closets and corners—any place that we might be hiding dysfunction or sin that could keep us from His best.
Just as it sounds, it’s not easy to die to those secondary passions and desires that so often bind us in sin. Crucifying the flesh (Gal. 5:24) can be painful for a time. But like a visit to the dentist, that temporary pain yields a permanent and far better result: we become alive to God (Romans 6), finally seeing and savoring him as our true Prize. And we awaken to his dreams for us—dreams that he “knit” within each of us (Ps. 139:13 NIV; see also Ps. 103:1–5) for his glory before we were born. In this place of awakening, Jesus “speaks.” His Spirit registers his truth and his answer, along with confirmation and peace in the deepest part of me, where the worries of the world cannot reach.
I’ve come to recognize that peace in my gut as God’s signal to act, to take the next step of obedience. Such peace isn’t something that Satan can duplicate. It doesn’t go away either, even if others disagree with me . . . even if the answer scares me . . . even if I’m being called to do something far different from what I was planning. My life has proven how real that is. God provides a peace that can’t be shaken—and a supernatural courage to act on it—all because we serve a Lord and Savior whose character can be trusted.
The first time I ever got neutral, I didn’t realize that’s what I was doing. I hadn’t yet clarified the four steps of a sacred pace; I was just living them out. What I was clear on was that I felt very convicted by the Lord to avoid making the same mistakes that had led to my burnout just a couple years prior. This meant following him wherever he might lead me.
All the indicators in my life—including the Christians I sought out for advice—were saying, “Start your own company.” But I wasn’t willing to do it unless I could somehow honor God and my family without burning out. This was my deepest desire in this decision.
For three years, I saw no way to be successful without compromising my newfound commitments. But eventually God led me to a crazy solution that inspired me to take the biggest risk ever in my career: to start a company with no sales goals, working only 40 hours a week. By all accounts, 40 hours a week for a business launch was ludicrous. But I had to put my trust in God because that was his answer for combating my own flesh and old habits.
I didn’t know if the business would succeed—in fact, I expected it to fail. But I knew he could make it thrive in just 40 hours a week if he chose to, and I could be the husband and father he had called me to be.
What persuaded me to take the risk on this out-of-the-box answer was that I had a physical and spiritual peace in my gut that I couldn’t deny, what the Bible refers to as “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” (Phil. 4:7 NKJV). So I obeyed. And to my shock, the company thrived. So did my life at home. And my friendship with Jesus. Thirty years later, Texon is not only a market leader, but we’ve been independently recognized as a trusted employer, and we’ve been profitable for 29 years running. (Incidentally, I still hold to those original commitments: a 40-hour work week, with no sales goals.)
The results I’ve experienced in living out these steps are the simple reason I was called to write the book Sacred Pace: I’ve been guided to joyful, amazing, peaceful answers from God amid some very tough decisions like this one. I want others to experience the sweetness of his answers too.
For anyone who’ll dare to depend on God’s wisdom rather than their own, risk getting neutral to their desires, and trust his mind and heart in their decisions, he’s eager to do similarly amazing things.
Interested? If so, let me challenge you to give this process a try for one pressing decision that’s before you for which you don’t yet have an answer. It could be a budgeting challenge, a job move, a relational concern, a family matter—anything that you care about but don’t have clarity on.
Slow down, work through the steps, and wait on God. His answers and methods won’t necessarily fit the world’s wisdom, or even your own. But he’s designed them as mile markers to your next destination, and these mile markers lead to glorious places if you will follow them all the way to the end.
Whenever he delivers his answer, signaled by that clear, abiding peace, do it. With confidence. Not only is he leading you to his will for you; he’s leading you to your joy in him.
See other posts in this series:
- Sacred Pace: 4 Steps to Discerning God’s Will in Your Decisions
- Sacred Pace: Step 1 – Consult Your Friend Jesus
- Sacred Pace: Step 2 – Gather the Facts
- Sacred Pace: Step 3 – Watch for Circumstances
Sacred Pace is published by HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc., the parent company of Bible Gateway.
Bio: Terry Looper (@TerryLLooper) is the Founder of Texon LP and has served as the organization’s President and Chief Executive Officer for almost 30 years. He’s the author of Sacred Pace: Four Steps to Hearing God and Aligning Yourself with His Will (W Publishing, 2019). Terry is married to Doris, his wife of 48 years, and has two married daughters and five grandchildren.
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