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“Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they think they have will be taken from them.”
Do you remember the song “O Be Careful, Little Eyes”? I remember singing this song frequently in vacation Bible School or Sunday School. The song encourages the listener to remain mindful of what they set before their eyes. It teaches us that we have control over what we view and expose ourselves to. The second verse takes this concept a step further by admonishing us to be careful what we hear. Information passes through our ear-gates and often shapes our mindset and outlook. What we hear can either inspire us to move forward, or cause us to freeze under the pressure of fear.
As Christian leaders, there is nothing more important than our ability to hear God. Instructions from God inform our journey as we lead others to a place of divine purpose. Without God’s direction, we are left to our own devices, which often prove futile. God’s voice brings direction, strategy, wisdom, correction, and even comfort. Hearing from God is important, yet how we hear him is critical.
When I look back at prior seasons in my life, I realized that my mindset often dictated my perception and hearing. I distinctly remember the difficult times, where the pressures of life and leadership seemed to be unrelenting. During these times, I would seek the counsel of others – spiritual confidants full of wisdom – only to feel frustrated by their advice. Upon review, I would later realize that my frustration was not a result of bad advice, but how I heard what they were saying. The more stressful a situation tends to be, the more sensitive we become. Even the most comforting words can come across as stinging criticism when we hear out of ears of offense, insecurity, or bitterness.
This is one reason why Jesus encourages us to pay careful attention to how we hear. This means that we must have a sober mindset as active listeners. In fact, I find that active hearing requires us to temporarily remove ourselves from the feelings of the situation and evaluate the merits of what is being suggested. What we hear is important, but how we hear influences our ability to receive affirming words.
Over the next few weeks we will explore the concept of hearing God in various seasons of life. My intent is to encourage and equip you to successfully hear God and understand his voice, particularly in the most difficult times. You may not realize it, but people are depending on your ability to hear God correctly. Let’s explore the power of hearing God.
God, as we encounter this subject of hearing your voice, give us ears to hear. Provide us with clarity as we seek to know your mind and discern your voice. We sit at the table open and teachable. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online Bible commentary: Listening, Taking Action, and Avoiding Anger (James 1:19–21)
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