By Bill Harley
In our book, TRANSFORMED: How to Make the Decisions That Change Your Life, Jean and I explore a powerful decision-making process for groups or individuals called Compassionate Consultation (CC). CC is transformative; it changes the equation; it reframes the reality and truth of any given situation. That is why it leads to such robust, wise, effective, just and unifying decisions.
The process begins with Step 1: Praying for Divine Guidance. It’s an easy step to forget or omit. We can inadvertently forget it because our environments are often not in the habit of including prayer in the deliberative agenda. We can consciously omit it because it may not seem politically correct in many group settings. However, if we want to access the transformative power of this process, we can’t forget or omit it.
Think of it this way. We know people who have very strong faith in a higher power; nevertheless, they are sometimes troubled by pangs of doubt. We also know people who are very strong doubters; nevertheless, they are sometimes troubled by pangs of faith. All of us moment-to-moment will find ourselves somewhere on a continuum that stretches from “Total Doubt” at one end to “Total Faith” on the other. Welcome to the club! All that is needed to honor Step 1 in the CC deliberation process is willingness to call on a higher power for assistance with the thought, “What can it hurt?”
If we look to scriptural guidance, we find that God has wanted to be an invited contributor to human deliberations from ancient times to the present time. In the ancient Book of Isaiah, we find the words, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord”. And in recent times the Bahá’í Scriptures indicate that a requirement for the use of Compassionate Consultation is that “They must when coming together turn their faces to the Kingdom on High and ask aid from the Realm of Glory”.
If you think about it, most deliberative environments in the world today are sadly lacking in two key ingredients that are required for transformative decision-making: humility and open-mindedness. And these two attributes are fostered in human beings when they pray for assistance to a higher power. In the words of Bahá’u’lláh who brought the CC process to humanity, God is the One “…before Whose wisdom the wise falleth short and faileth, before Whose knowledge the learned confesseth his ignorance, before Whose might the strong waxeth weak, before Whose wealth the rich testifieth to his poverty, before Whose light the enlightened is lost in darkness….”
Who could afford not to request assistance and guidance from such a Being during deliberations? And who could resist feelings of increased humility and open-mindedness in the face of such infinite capacity? These are a few of the reasons that Compassionate Consultation begins with “Praying for Divine Guidance”.
To learn more reasons and about additional steps in this transformative decision-making method, see our book, TRANSFORMED: How to Make the Decisions That Change Your Life.