How to help with inner work

The heart’s real intentions are like deep water;
but a person with discernment draws them out.

Pro 20:5

When we look at the time the Bible was written, there was no notion of inner work. Though the Bible is talking about the soul, it is only in the last century or so that humanity developed an idea of the psyche that is more than just the eternal part of a person.

This is when psychotherapy, psychology and psychiatry were founded, when we heard about personality, thrives, shadow work, consciousness and subconsciousness, and most personality models were developed.

As always, there were pockets of this in earlier times, but most of them seem to have focused on physical characteristics or external influences.

The four temperaments came from body fluids, and the Enneagram evolved around the Christian deadly sins.

No wonder, the person drawing out the hearts intensions by discernment was not the same as the one that had those intensions in the traditional reading.

I have come to believe that other people often, if not always are wrong about the heart’s real intentions or motivations in others. They can help drawing them out, but it is the person itself that does it most reliably with tons of work and discernment.

We usually project, assume, and interpret when we “discern” somebody else’s motivations and intensions.

We project our own motivations and intentions upon them, or we assume that they just have the same intensions that we experienced with so many others. We can also interpret what they intended and why from the framework and image we have of humanity.

Maybe that is the reason the word was translated counsel in most English translations. (Above, I quote the Complete Jewish Bible.) To discern somebody’s counsel, their plan or wisdom for the problem at hand is not a morally loaded issue and takes away the problematic dimension of our doing.

What problematic dimension?

Discerning somebody else’s intentions based on our own, our experience, or our worldview equals judging others by some arbitrary standards.

This is maybe best seen in projecting one’s own intentions unto others. This makes me the center of the universe, even if unintentionally, or displays my belief that humans are all the same.

In Christian terms, this could sound like this: we all are the same, as we are the image of God and are to be like Jesus. Whatever in me differs from that pattern or mold has to die as it is a manifestation and imprint of the fallen world.

I as a pastor have invested so much time in my spiritual practices and God has anointed me into ministry, a lot of my old nature has died, I know how to deal with the rest, have studied the ideal, and am supernatural perfected for the time I am under the anointing.

This gives me authority to tell people the intentions of their hearts that they cannot discern, as above verse clearly tells us.

The problem is that we are not the same. God is creative and has created a multitude of shapes and shades of everything. We come in different shapes physically, and we do not only differ in personality because of imprint and socialisation. And of course above self-analysation of the pastor were laughable if it were not dangerous and mislead.

I think that behaviorists and Christians share a big part of their view of humanity. While behaviorists believe that we are born blank slates and in principle can become anything, but that all of our personality therefore is induced by nurture or socialisation, Christians believe that we are born blank slates regarding goodness, that is, we are born inherently bad and in a fallen state, and that socialisation builds on our inherent fallenness unless we accept Jesus in our lives.

Maybe people would not express it like this, but be honest: can we look at something truly good, like the works of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, and not downplay it because he was not Christian?

Some would say that we are born with potential for both good and bad, but then would also tell us that we as humans are not capable of good because we fall short and all good comes from God.

But let’s get back to our previous thought.

Let’s look at interpretation next. Maybe we are baffled by the actions of another and cannot explain why somebody would do such a thing. We cannot project our own intensions because what we experienced or saw is way out of our framework. We then start educated guessing more or less until our own framework has found an explanation we can live with.

This is about our own inner peace more than the real intentions of the person because I need to be able to explain things from my worldview or I experience disintegration.

Our experience also leads us to judge somebody’s intentions. This is normal, as we learn through experience. But our experiences are flawed at best in this case, as they just lump together multiple instances of projection or interpretation.

What then can we do?

First, we need to realize and appreciate that each person is inherently different as they are mirroring another glimpse of the divine, are true individuals, and have been imprinted in unique ways. This gives us three plains, three dimensions at least: divine make, nature, and nurture.

To appreciate all three dimensions is important and so difficult in todays environment, as they are part of three distinct philosophical worldviews called traditionalism, modernity, and post-modernity, respectively. And neither of these worldviews is willing or capable of accepting the other, as we can see played out in front of our eyes in the Western world today.

Once we know that we have to approach everybody in their own way and as a deeply individual and unique being on three plains at least, we can start to bring in experience.

In all our differences, we are similar too. We are similar enough that we can group, plan and act together, and understand each other enough to build incredible things and communicate grand concepts.

Therefore, some of the tools, practices, and revelations that helped me will help you draw out your real intensions. Some of the models will click with you and help you explain yourself and the world for a while, while others won’t.

I can help you discern and draw out your real intensions by adding my experience to yours, giving you some tools you did not know, and providing a different viewpoint.

This is why I wrote my book the way I did, offering a toolset and my own experience instead of telling you how it is and what you are experiencing. Maybe it helps you.

The Unfiltered Thoughts of a Pastor in Exile