In 1993 the state of Washington passed a Health Services Act that implemented at the state level much of what the Clintons advocated for (unsuccessfully) at a national level. The state issued requests for proposals for consulting firms to assist with implementing various provisions of the law, and I led my firm’s proposal related to one of its primary elements. In January 1994, having been awarded the work, I found myself in front of panels of business, legislative, and policy leaders, and occasionally television cameras. I felt completely over my head and began looking for an escape.
At this time I had also recently become part of a small group at Reedwood Friends Church, and during our check-in one Sunday morning I brought this concern to the group. One friend asked “How, more specifically, can we support you in prayer?”
I answered “I feel excited by this opportunity, but I feel unqualified to lead this project. I need clarity as to whether this is something God is leading me toward or a product of my own ambition. And if it is God’s leading, I need to know what I am supposed to bring to this situation.”
After some silence a friend asked “What about this makes you think it might be a leading from God?” I answered “This legislation is aimed at increasing access to affordable health care, and that is something I have always felt God has called me toward.”
Another friend asked “And there were proposals from other firms to do this same work?” I answered “Yes, eight other firms submitted proposals and ours was selected as the strongest.” Someone else followed up “So, this work will be done by someone no matter what, it’s just that you were selected to do it?” I said “Yes, that’s true.”
After additional silence, one friend said “I can’t speak for the group, and I know nothing of the world in which you work, nor of your skills. But how you were selected means you are likely competent. I do see access to affordable health care as something God cares about, and I would rather see this work led by someone with your heart for this concern than by someone for whom it might be just another project.”
Other friends murmured their assent, and I felt utterly convicted. Uncomfortable or not, I felt clarity that God had indeed led me to this place. I said to the group “That helps me a lot with clarity. Now what I need is your prayers and support as I work through this project over the next few months.”
What was born that day was what I now know is called an anchor committee. This was the first time I experienced the power of a spiritual community to provide clarity and strength in undertaking a walk on a difficult path. I am grateful that it has not been the last!