The word “listen” or “hear” is found more than 1,500 times in the Bible. The problem is that it is easy to lead FOR God without listening TO God. That is why the most important question every one of us must ask throughout our days is:
“God, how are you coming to me, and what might you want to say?”
The question then needs to be applied specifically to different areas of our lives. Let me provide you with a few examples of what that looks like in my life:
Time with God
“God, how are you coming to me in Scripture and silence today?” At times he leads me to linger over a passage, a phrase or a text for several days—even weeks. At times he leads me to read whole books of Scripture in one sitting. While I practice 20 minutes of silence and stillness each morning, I am also listening to discern if he wants to extend that or include other, longer periods of silence and stillness throughout the day. I practice a rhythm of morning, afternoon and evening prayer, and I spend at least one day alone with God each month. Yet there are seasons when he invites me to extended times to be apart with him.
Unless I ask, “God, how are you coming to me?” I miss his promptings.
In my better moments, I ask: “God, how are you coming to me about what you want to do at this staff meeting?” How much time are we to spend in development, prayer, sharing about our personal lives, planning, particular issues, etc.? Do we need additional time off-site in a relaxed setting to prayerfully talk about larger, long-range issues? If so, what might you want us to focus on?
Like most of you, I have a general template from which I lead meetings, but unless I ask, “God, how are you coming to me (and to us) in this meeting?” I miss his promptings.
My To-Do List
The most difficult person I lead is myself. Developing and discerning the priorities of the week is one of our greatest challenges as leaders. I work on a weekly to-do list multiple times prior to Monday morning, always asking the same question, “God, what are you saying around my priorities for the week?”
Every Monday, I offer each item on my list in stillness before God, listening for changes he may desire. And each morning I offer to God my specific meetings and plans for the day.
Unless I ask, “God, how are you coming to me around what I am to do and not do? Is there anything else you may want to say?” I miss his promptings.
Geri and Our Family
Because I am convinced that God calls us to lead out of marriages, or singleness, as a sign and wonder (see The Emotionally Healthy Leader), I ask regularly, “God how are you coming to me in what I can do to cultivate a greater oneness with Geri?”
Tonight, this means cooking a nice fish dinner. Tomorrow, it means coming present and prepared to a meeting that is very important to her area of ministry. It has led me to dates with my adult daughters, shifts in my Sabbath and stopping work early at New Life Church and Emotionally Healthy Spirituality.
Again, unless I ask, “God, how are you coming to me in my relationship with Geri and each of our four daughters?” I miss his promptings.
Reading broadly is one of our more important tasks as leaders. The key question, however, is: “God, how do you want me to read this book? Am I to skim it? Study it? Do I read this slowly, prayerfully and reflectively, journaling how you speak to me? Are there specific ways you are coming to me regarding how I lead for you out of this book?” I am now reading, for example, Thomas Friedman’s Thank You for Being Late, but I have slowed my pace considerably so that I can pray through what I’m reading and think about its implications for discipleship.
Why? Unless I ask, “God, how are you coming to me, and the church, through the enormous changes happening in our world?” I miss his promptings.
Why not take a moment now and ask: “God, how might you be coming to me, or speaking to me, through this article right now?”
Pete Scazzero is the founder of New Life Fellowship Church in Queens, New York, and the author of two best-selling books: Emotionally Healthy Spirituality and The Emotionally Healthy Church. This story was originally posted on Scazzero’s blog at EmotionallyHealthy.org.