You could say that a controlled burn is using fire to fight fire, and though that may sound counter-intuitive, it is effective.
According to Wikipedia, a controlled burn is also known as a hazard-reduction burn and is used in the areas of forestry management, farming, prairie restoration etc. In the case of forestry management it would essentially look like this: Forestry management staff target an area with many dead or dying trees and, during the cooler months, purposefully set it on fire. Their intention is to burn, in a controlled setting, a swath of land which would pose an ever greater risk, were it to occur during hot summer months where stronger wind would spread the fire further and faster. It also means reducing the risk of this particular area catching fire while other forest fires are also raging, limiting available fire-fighting personnel to all fires.
Similarly, during the first fifteen months of our preparation to go on the mission field, we made a pointed effort to control the spread of information about our plan. Here’s how we did it.
- In the six days after God had spoken to me (this happened while I was on-site in the country), I mentioned it only to the two missionaries. They had both, at various times, expressed either an interest in having me take part in the the work or simply mentioned that they could easily see me fitting in to the work. At this point I simply expressed that I felt God had spoken something and there was a possibility. I mentioned that as I left France that particular time, it was unlike previous times and I asked them to be in prayer.
- In the two months following my return to Canada, I mentioned it to three people: my current pastor and two previous pastors who had played a great role of mentorship in my life. I wanted their input and their prayer support but I didn’t present it as a “done deal.”
- In the third month following my return, I began discussing it with my wife (my Patience is a Virtue post describes why I waited this long to talk to her about it) and a couple of months after that, she mentioned it to one person.
- In the seventh month after my return, three members of my district leadership became aware as the question of future ministry came up during my interview for Ministerial Ordination. Two other close minister friends also became aware during the same time period… and this is where things stayed until four months after that, when – by virtue of my application to Global Missions‘ A.I.M. Program – staff in St. Louis became aware.
This was definitely a slow-burn situation. For almost a year, there were only a dozen people who were aware of what God was slowly maturing in our life. We knew that it was wise to seek counsel from those with more experience in ministry so we engaged some key voices in our life.
As to the delay… call it our attempt at self-preservation. Perhaps I was afraid of hastily making a grandiose statement about what I felt to be the call of God which would prove, in the end, to not be the case. Either way, one thing is sure… having only limited involvement by others allowed us to keenly distill and discern the will of God for our family. We know that we have heard from the Lord and are not simply seeking to do what others expect… We think of this as hazard reduction… or a controlled burn.
What do you see as the benefits to limiting the spread of info before it’s time?