I’ve been writing over the last couple of weeks about how we can grow in our ability to discern God’s voice. I’m convinced that this is an absolutely critical skill if we are to follow Jesus, because I’m convinced that following Jesus revolves around these two questions: “What is God saying to me?” “What am I going to do about it?”
I spent the first post advocating for regular times of listening. We have to step away from the noise. And in last week’s post I shared the first of a few ‘filters’ Christians have used for centuries to hone in on God’s voice amidst the noise: the Scriptures.
So, let’s imagine that you’ve been spending time listening and you believe you’ve heard God speak. You take the step of filtering God’s word to you through Scripture and there doesn’t seem to be a conflict (let’s be clear…if there is a conflict between what you heard and Scripture…you should take great pause). It’s then time to pour what you’ve heard through a second filter: wise counsel.
God’s Spirit is consistently moving us from independence to interdependence. The New Testament makes this clear: we are members of God’s family and a part of one body. So it’s not surprising that learning to hear God’s voice is something that happens best together [Samuel had Eli (1 Samuel 3). The disciples had a number of women (Luke 24). The Apostles had each other (Acts 15)].
Let me put a bit more definition around what I mean by wise council. I’m talking about someone who has experience listening for God’s voice, hearing God’s voice and obeying God’s voice.
This has to be more than just someone you look up to — or someone you consider wise (although those are good things to consider) — we need a person who knows firsthand what it’s like wrestle with the noise and chaos of life, hear God’s voice in the midst of that chaos and then obey God’s voice so that fruit is produced.
This doesn’t mean you’re looking for someone who is a perfect example (does anyone get it right all of the time?). What we’re looking for is a living example. Someone who can listen well — ask good questions (because they’ve been there before and know what to ask) and who can offer, with grace, a word of encouragement or caution.
Now, before you feel overwhelmed – wondering who in the world could ever fit this bill – take a breath. I have no doubt there are people like this in your life, and I say this with confidence because (1) we have a really good God who wants to put good people in our lives for this purpose and many more, and (2) if you’re reading this you’re likely somehow connected to the Branch — a community that has a number of living examples who would gladly walk with you as you discern.
If you are in need of wise counsel and don’t know where to turn, you should shoot one of our staff an email. Seriously. Don’t wait. Do it. 🙂 We’re hear for you and we can walk with you and bring others along side of you to help in this.
We’re meant to do it together.
Next week I’ll write about the final ‘filter’ — which requires that we actually get out there and do something.
Until then…keep listening.