Rely less on what we know, more on God’s voice
With the calling that God has placed upon my life, there are certain things that come easier for me now than in the past. In ministry we do a lot of talking. I am assuming that like me, if you are given the opportunity to share from God’s Word with a group of people that you take some significant time to prepare and carefully select the words that you will use to convey the message that the Father has given you.
If we are not careful, we can become so impressed with what we perceive the Lord is telling us to share, that we forget to take the time to truly listen for His voice. Most of us value the words that we speak, simply because they express what is in our own hearts and minds. Now there is nothing wrong with believing that what we have to share is important or even helpful to those whom God has placed in our sphere of influence.
I was reading some thoughts on leadership by A.W. Tozer who writes, “No man has the right to offer advice who has not first heard God speak. No man has the right to counsel others who is not ready to hear and follow the counsel of the Lord. True moral wisdom must always be an echo of God’s voice” (Tozer on Christian Leadership, Ron Eggert, Ed., 2001).
As I allowed these words and the remainder of his thoughts to speak to me, it was evident that there have been times in my life and ministry where I have focused more upon my thoughts than the Father’s.
If we do not take the time to listen for and to His voice, we can become overly focused upon what we know and think rather than what our Creator wants to say to us.
During my teenage years, one of my Sunday School teachers used to remind us about the importance of reading the Scriptures prayerfully and asking questions that would help us hear God’s voice as He spoke to us through His word.
My fear is that this has become a lost discipline in the lives of many of us who are seeking to follow Jesus in our churches today. Sometimes we may study the Word simply searching for the next sermon, Bible Study, or devotional thought to share with others, rather than earnestly seeking a clear word from the Maker of our souls.
Hopefully, you are hearing these words in the spirit with which they are written. Perhaps, it can be all too easy for some of us to speak for God without first getting a word from Him. My opinions and thoughts on spiritual issues are of no value to the Kingdom, apart from the clear and consistent whisper of the Spirit into my life.
Of course, listening for His voice is more challenging than we often want to admit. It is so easy for some of us to become distracted by the other voices that are seeking our attention. Many of these voices are important and helpful in our lives. Still, we must be sure to not place their significance or value above the word that the Father speaks.
My mother used to remind me that God gave me two ears and one mouth. Perhaps this reality should teach us just how important the act of listening is in our relationships. Did you ever notice that students don’t usually get in trouble in school for listening too much?
Some may see listening as merely the passive activity that is demonstrated by a lack of speech. However, listening is anything but passive. Most of us know that it takes considerable effort and focus to listen. Nowhere is this more true than in listening to the voice of our Heavenly Father.
Have you ever noticed how difficult it can be to spend even a few minutes in prayer and silence before the Lord? Perhaps the enemy knows that if he can fill our minds with noise, we will not be able to hear the voice of the One Who truly loves us.
Lately, I have been looking for opportunities when I can shut out the noise and listen for my Master’s voice. Whether it’s in the car driving down the highway, or a nice walk after my morning run, these times of silence enable me to focus upon the voice of the One Who loved me first.
My prayer for you today is that you would hear our Savior’s voice as He speaks to you. I believe that it will be the greatest blessing of your day. (Mike Cooper is Missouri Baptist Convention’s director of Sunday School Discipleship.)