While I was talking with my wonderful cousin Lisbet on the phone today, I had a flash of insight on how to make better decisions. Our conversations are always thoughtful and wide-ranging, and she was telling me about the welcoming and inclusive culture of her new church home. We discussed the importance of being able to “live the questions” of life and faith without feeling judged. I've always believed God honors honest inquiry and seeking, even when they lead to doubts about conventionally accepted beliefs of the church.
“Surely God didn't give us brains and compassion and intuition without expecting us to use them,” I opined.
“Yes,” she agreed. “Head, heart, and gut are a holy trinity.”
I hadn't heard that before, but it resonated with me immediately—not as a theology but as common sense. As I've pondered the implications, I realize how often I separate those three ways of understanding the world because I've felt they were somehow mutually exclusive. But isn't it healthier to recognize each as a unique filter for processing input from our environment and combine the results to create a transcendent whole?
I think so.
I suddenly realized I'd put this into practice this year as chairman of our church's search committee for a new rector/pastor. That process is decidedly different from that of selecting a business employee. Our committee members feel they are working for God and looking for a candidate who can most effectively help our church do God's work in this community.
If you've ever been active in a church congregation, you know there is no scarcity of opinion about what kind of person should be selected as the rector. If you've got 100 people in the congregation, you've got 100 opinions. Many think our committee is working just for them and that whoever we choose will be working just for them too.
But shouldn't we all be working for God?
Our committee can't possibly please everyone with our rector recommendation (and as a natural “people-pleaser,” that's tough for me), but using the combination of head, heart, and gut, we committee members have worked prayerfully and faithfully through the process of identification, evaluation, and selection. We have trusted in God's guidance and God's timing. We have let love be our guide and our shield.
From now on, whenever I have a decision to make, I'm going to give a lot more thought to this “holy trinity” of head, heart, and gut. Instead of making rash determinations only from my gut feelings, I'm going to be sure to take the time to check in with my head and my heart. Or instead of letting only my heart lead the way, I'm going to pause and think. They may sometimes give me conflicting messages (and perhaps that will be a sign not to move forward with the decision), but surely God's Holy Spirit will use all three of these gifts to guide me on the path of truth.
When have you used your head, heart, and gut together? Or when did you use them singly? Did relying on only one ever get you into trouble? Do you think there are times when one should prevail over the others? I'd love to hear your thoughts and ideas in the comments below or on our Facebook page.