It can be all too easy these days to nearly drown in the distractions that bombard us every waking minute. They can come from as many sources as we allow into our lives. Screens keep us busy, entertained, and overwhelmed. Tumultuous current events demand our focus and sap our energy. More than ever before, it is vital to remember Psalm 46:10, “...Be still, and know that I am God…”
If we are not directly connecting with God, hearing His voice, and receiving His guidance in our own lives, then we cannot lead those around us well. We might also find ourselves getting off-track from what it is that God wants us to say and teach.
While some things might initially seem like not too big of a deal, over time, they can become a big deal. A good example illustrating this point is how pilots are taught the, “...1 in 60 rule, which states that after 60 miles a one degree error in heading will result in straying off course by one mile.”
Distractions from God’s voice can be just a degree off, but eventually take us miles from where we are supposed to be. If that transfers to teaching and preaching, those degrees off can end up impacting the lives of those under our leadership.
3 Keys to Avoid Getting Off Track
Key 1: Grow in Sensitivity to the Voice of God
Every person can hear God’s voice, but we often don’t recognize it. Learning to listen to our heavenly Father is one of the highest callings of Christians. His voice transforms our lives and develops our character. Our relationship with God is life’s greatest treasure, and developing an ear that is sensitive to His voice is critical to developing that relationship. He created us for relationship!
What sort of genuine relationship involves only one party talking? None!
Real, meaningful relationships develop from a two-way dialogue. That means we need to learn to listen to God as much as we need to practice speaking to Him. Mark Virkler, founder of Communion with God Ministries and author of over 50 books, absolutely nails it with this short but powerful definition:
“When I learned to recognize the voice of God as the bubbling flow of spontaneous ideas that welled up from my heart as I fixed my eyes on Jesus, I discovered a new way of living...” —Mark Virkler
For decades, I thought hearing from God was a privilege reserved for prophets and a select few men and women. I had no idea that communicating with God was something available to everyone. Jesus teaches in John 10:27, “My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me.”
What Does God’s Voice Sound Like?
God communicates to us in many forms. He communicates through the Bible. He also speaks through other people, circumstances, signs, promptings, numbers, wonders, miracles, angels, visions, dreams, nature, and occasionally, He might even speak through a donkey, as He did to the prophet Balaam.
When He speaks to us, it is always in line with His nature and character as revealed by the Holy Spirit and through Scripture. For example, we know that the fruits of the Spirit include kindness and gentleness (Galatians 5). Therefore, God’s voice will be kind and gentle to us. We also know from Hebrews 12:6 that “...the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” The voice of God will lovingly correct us to protect us and keep us on the straight and narrow.
For decades, I didn’t know that God wanted an intimate, personal relationship with me. Once I started to communicate with Him and allowed Him to speak into my life directly through His voice, His Word (the Bible), and occasionally others, it changed everything. I was no longer alone. Now, I include God in everything I do. In my business decisions, ministry ventures, family life… everything. Why would I want to go back to doing life alone?
Key 2: Commit to Obeying the Voice of God
The second key is also incredibly important. Committing to obey the voice of God is a big decision, but He is the only person worthy of taking full charge of our lives. John 14:21 begins, “Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me…” Hearing God’s voice is important, but failing to act on what He has told us to do is not a good idea. As His children, His commands should be important to us. We should be motivated to act the moment He speaks, not out of fear or performance, but out of love. Everything the Lord asks of us is for our own good.
Key 3: Die to the Fear of Man
The third key will hit home for many of us. Dying to the fear of man is one of the most important things that we can do. Fear of man keeps people under the control of others or the opinions of others. When we allow people to control us, our actions, or our decisions because we are afraid of what they might do, think, or say, we are treating man as an idol. When we give decision making power over to people, we are not giving full authority to God. This doesn't always appear to be wrong from the outside because fear of man can look like peacekeeping. However, it can do serious damage.
Check your own heart for a moment.
Do you omit certain lessons from your teachings because you’re afraid of what certain congregants might think? Are you afraid of losing powerful or wealthy people in your church, so you allow them to influence what you do or don’t do? If so, then we are not giving full authority to God. People’s voices might seem louder than God’s voice but putting Him at the helm ensures God’s best.
Fear of man is a form of pride, and the antidote for pride is humility! We can humble ourselves through repentance and be freed from the enslavement of pride. As the fear of the Lord grips our hearts, the fear of man has less and less power over us.
Humility is fear of the Lord and fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
Humility is the fruit of a transformed mind by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Humility precedes honor.
Humility precedes wisdom.
Humility precedes glory.
Humility is a powerful key to the Kingdom!
Embracing God’s Voice in Your Life and Church
While many of today's distractions come from outside the church, there are many within the church that try to distract us from the centrality of Christ and simplicity of the Gospel. Church programs promising entertainment, altruism, and perhaps even inspiration without Jesus at the center miss the whole point of Christian ministry. The way to stay out of the brambles of wasted time, energy, money, and manpower is to remain sensitive to the voice of God, obey His instructions, and not allow fear of man to keep us from doing any of what He is instructing us to do.
Please take a moment to consider the following two questions:
- What did the Holy Spirit reveal to you through this reading?
- Which of the three keys most applies to you today?
- How can you apply these keys to your life and in your ministry?
More Than Gold: Reflections on Living in Glorious Freedom will be available on Amazon on March 17, 2023. Pre-order on Kindle today and don’t forget to check out Bryan’s new podcast along with his daughter, Bryn, The Father Pursuit where they dedicate two episodes to what it means to experience the voice of God.