When God Speaks Through Other People, Part Two: Expert Selection
Without wise leadership, a nation falls; there is safety in having many advisers. (Proverbs 11:14 NLT)
When I first wanted to learn to drive a car, I took classes at a local driving school and practiced driving with my Dad and my sister. (I failed the first maneuver ability test, much to Dad’s dismay…but I eventually learned to drive, and must say, I’m a pretty good driver now!)
When I first wanted to learn how to sing, I took an elective singing class in college taught by a talented instructor, who also happened to be an opera singer. At the same time, I joined the church choir, as well as any chorale my church would allow me to join. (I still don’t sing all that well, but, hey, I can only do so much with what God gave me.)
When I first wanted to learn to cook, I watched the awesome chefs on The Food Network and my mother-in-law, Mary Anne–she is amazing!!! Then I bought a bunch of cookbooks and tried to imitate them in my own kitchen. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. But after lots of burnt crusts and limp veggies, I’m very pleased with what I am now able to pull together and create when I decide to make a nice meal.
If you want to learn how to do something and do it well, you’ve basically got to do two things:
1. Find someone who knows how to do the thing…someone who does the thing very well–an expert
2. Practice doing the thing yourself
Learning to hear the voice of God is no different. If you want to learn to discern the voice of God, it is very, very important that you first surround yourself with others who hear His voice, and then practice hearing Him yourself.
Let me just interject here: I know many of you just recently started reading this blog. If you have not yet done so, you may want to take some time and scroll back through the previous posts where I laid a lot of groundwork, namely on the importance of relationship with God and knowing His word (the Bible). It will become more and more important that you understand the basics as we move on and plunge more deeply into this subject. In fact, I’ll shush for a moment, if you’d like to read the older posts right now…
(insert Jeopardy theme song here: do do do do do do do do. do do do do DO dododododo. do do do do do do do. DO DO-DO DO DO DO DO)
OK, we’re back! Assuming you’re now up to speed (and successfully humming the annoying Jeopardy theme song), for the remainder of our time today, let’s talk about choosing our “experts”–those from whom we will learn and those with whom we will eventually practice hearing God’s voice.
Who are these experts anyway? Where can I find one? How will I know when I meet one?
Well, a God-hearing expert could be anyone from anywhere around the world, but they will look a lot like this:
1. A God-hearing expert loves the Word of God. He is in the word of God…reading, studying, searching. He does not see this as a duty or an item to check off his to-do list. It is his bread of life. Time spent in God’s word is not up for discussion. It is a non-negotiable in his schedule. The word is hidden deeply in his heart. How do you know what is in his heart? Because…
2. A God-hearing expert talks about the things of God openly. He can’t help it. Matthew 12:34 tells us that out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks…by your words you will be aquitted and by your words you will be condemned. You won’t have to ask a God-hearing person if he loves God’s word…you’ll hear it peppered in everything he says and everything he does, because…
3. A God-hearing expert displays the fruit of the Spirit. Jesus went on to say in Matthew chapter 12 that a tree, whether good or bad, will be recognized by its fruit. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. So if a man is storing the word of God in his heart, he should be radiating love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control.
OK, time interject another quick tidbit: I know a lot of people who don’t believe they are allowed to “judge” anyone because of the following scripture found in Matthew chapter 7:
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.”
But I, personally, do not believe Jesus was warning us never to judge another person. Let’s take a look at the scripture in context:
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. ” (Matthew 7:1-5)
Do you see what Jesus is really saying here? He’s telling us that the measure we use to judge people will be the same measure used on us. In other words, He is speaking against hypocrisy–people who hold others to a high standard that they, themselves, do not keep. He is not telling us to never judge others. He is telling us to be careful that, when we do judge, we hold ourselves to the same standard to which we hold others so we can “see clearly to remove the speck from our brother’s eye.”
Now look at this passage in Hebrews:
“Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings…Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. (Hebrews 13:7-9, 17)
The Message renders verses 7-9 this way: “Appreciate your pastoral leaders who gave you the Word of God. Take a good look at the way they live, and let their faithfulness instruct you, as well as their truthfulness. There should be a consistency that runs through us all. For Jesus doesn’t change—yesterday, today, tomorrow, he’s always totally himself.”
Again, the writer of Hebrews is telling us to submit to the godly leaders God places over us (I believe this would apply to pastors, as well as any of those from which we choose to learn), but he is also warning us to consider the outcome of their lives (their fruit), to take a really good look at how they live, and to imitate only those things that are consistent with a life filled with faith in Jesus Christ.
Friends, when you are choosing people to speak into your life (and yes, you DO have a choice who speaks into your life!), it is vital that you examine their words, their actions, their relationships, and their ministry for alignment to the word of God. Remember, we are talking about selecting the “experts” from whom we will learn to hear God’s voice. The “experts” with whom we will practice. Our “sounding boards,” if you will. If anyone should be totally sold-out to God, it should be these people, don’t you think? That’s not “judging” a person. It’s simply being wise. Speaking of being wise…
4. A God-hearing person is full of God’s wisdom. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding.” (Psalm 111:10) One of my absolute favorite things to do is to sit and talk to God-fearing/God-hearing people…picking their brains, asking questions, discussing deep theological topics or simple everyday issues. I love to hear how God fills those who cling to His word and bask in His presence with wisdom beyond their age, their education, their status or their position in society. And they are quick to give God the glory for their wisdom because…
5. A God-hearing person is humble. I previously devoted an entire post to this subject called “The High Value of Humility.” I suggest you jump over there and read it, if you haven’t yet or if you need a refresher. You can click here to go there: http://godspeakstoday.blogspot.com/2008_04_01_archive.html
If you don’t know anyone in your life currently who meets this criteria, pray and ask God to send you someone. I believe He joyfully answers those kinds of prayers. Especially for, you–His child, who is seeking Him with a pure heart to hear Him more clearly.
We’ll continue where we left off next time! Until then, I pray God surrounds you will God-Fearing/God-Hearing experts and that each of you reading this post will hear God in a real and profound way this week.
Blessings to you!
Thanks Sandy! There have been seasons in my life where I have many “experts” to glean wisdom from. Then other seasons where I smack dab in the middle of the Saharah with only what I have “hidden in my heart”.
I am praying for God to continue to bring godly people into my life — and He has been faithful.
The soil of this heart of mine is being tilled! That’s a good thing.
This has been very valuable. God has recently placed some “experts” in my life and your post just clarified that for me. I even had a beautiful lesson through my little girl yesterday that I blogged about. I thought you might be interested. Thanks again for allowing others to learn from your experience!