First: The active life must be surrounded not with acts of devotion (we are often too busy for that). The active life must be filled with the age old skill of listening to God in every circumstance that comes our way. If we find ourselves in a season of dryness or depression as someone who is trying to make a difference, we approach the season itself as a gift from above and abandon ourselves anew to the higher power Who cares far more than we ever could.
Second, we pay attention to our limits. We can over-express our call to join God in the dark places. We trust that God will protect us as we join Him, though we also know that we cannot work along side God in every way. We listen to the ways we have been uniquely made and led and gently but decisively press into limited areas of God’s broken but sacred creation.
Third, obedience is less about gritting-it-out especially when you don’t want to. It is more about what originates in the hidden sanctuary and the guidance found there. I used to hate the part of ministry where you had to approach somebody in the cold or worse write a card to him or her if they put their name on the attendance ledger that week. I disingenuously did it anyway out of a lower sense of obedience. Obedience as more of a faithfulness to our unique selves and what bubbles up from it.
Fourth, in social work, we often experience a God like impulse for care. This can be very dangerous. I put myself in a kingly role while you, poor you, are the recipient of my care. This way disregards the hidden nobility in others and the texture of God’s kingdom that persistently reminds us of the spiritual riches we might find in the marginalized and physically destitute. In reaction to this possible abuse of power, some throw the baby out with the bath water. We must not crush the impulse to be God-like, we must reorient ourselves to God’s true self. When we discover that God is a glory giver, not a glory grabber, we see that our most God-like moments will be filled with suffering and self-giving.