The Soul of Development


Dear Friend of WCIU,

I get asked from time to time what I do, and when I say I am involved in equipping men and women to work at the roots of human problems globally, and describe "development" I always add the term, "holistic", and hasten to add: social, economic, environmental, and spiritual.

What is the spiritual dimension of development? What is its soul?

Christians will often be quick to assume that it means that the spiritual aspects of life and wholeness are the most important, and sometimes also assume that everything else will follow.

But that is inadequate for at least two reasons.

First, of course, God made us body, mind, soul, spirit....and God's "development" of people also aims at every aspect of what it means to be human.

Second, the understanding of "spiritual" above, is only focusing on "them", on the people whom we very understandably want to help.

But this puts all the shoes on the wrong feet!

Thomas Kelly, in "A Testament of Devotion" addresses what he calls the "simplification of life" and in the chapter by that title, he describes in a powerful way the spiritual core of development. Here are just a few examples:

"There is a way of life so hid with Christ in God that in the midst of the day's can live in well nigh continuous state of wordless prayer...directed toward people and enterprises...(and with) no hurry about it all...Our fellowship with God issues in world concern....He, working within us portions out His vast concern into bundles, and lays on each of us our portion."

Such a centered life is the truest center and foundation for authentic development. It keeps us grounded, calm, unhurried, and free from the fetters of all our false "yes's" to pleas for help, and for FOR a deeper yes to the promptings of God and the portions God chooses to lay upon our shoulders.

Of course, this is true for the life of each of you reading this as well. And may you and I come to know ever more deeply the reality of a life "hid with Christ in God" (as Paul puts it in Colossians).

In Him (quite literally)

Kevin Higgins