When I was a Quaker Voluntary Service fellow serving in Atlanta, I experienced what felt like a leading to travel to Uganda. Oh man...planning a trip into a country for the express purpose of breaking their laws by assisting LGBTQ people would require a lot of support and preparation. I really did not fear consequences if this was indeed a leading, but I knew that the severity of those consequences meant that I had to be absolutely sure that this was a clear path the Light was leading me towards.
I kept this quiet from most people, expecting that many would think I'd either lost my mind, or respond in an over-protective way. It was in this moment that I was so grateful to be able to call upon a time-tested Friends mechanism of discernment; the clearness committee.
The wise Friends who I asked for assistance took the leading seriously, and did not try to smother it. We knew that we were listening to the same Spirit and trusted that a leading from the Spirit would only make itself more evident and clear to us all through the process. That was a rich and wonderful worship experience, and in the end the message from God was clear: wait.
I didn't feel a moment of disappointment! On the contrary, I felt joy of knowing that I could release an idea that the Guide had not given me, and that other Friends could affirm what I was taught that day.
One of the most precious gifts I was given were the words of one minister on the committee, when she shared a series of questions that she asks herself when she feels led to do something. Is it good work? Is it your work? Is it for now? I actually found them to be so useful, that I put them on my workstation at Atlanta Habitat, and find myself asking them in my mind regularly. I delight when the answer to all three is yes, but have also learned to be equally delighted when the answer to one or more is no.