The goal of my spiritual life is such close identification with Jesus Christ that I will always hear God and know that God always hears me. If I am united with Jesus Christ, I hear God all the time through the devotion of hearing. A flower, a tree, or a servant of God may convey God’s message to me. What hinders me from hearing is my attention to other things. It is not that I don’t want to hear God, but I am not devoted in the right areas of my life. I am devoted to things and even to service and my own convictions. God may say whatever He wants, but I just don’t hear Him. The attitude of a child of God should always be, “Speak, for Your servant hears.” If I have not developed and nurtured this devotion of hearing, I can only hear God’s voice at certain times. At other times I become deaf to Him because my attention is to other things— things which I think I must do. This is not living the life of a child of God.
I find when I act out of my own discernment or “gut” feelings without prayer and having heard His will on the matter, I am disrespecting God. Sadly, I recognize there have been too many times where I have shown an incredible disrespect to God because I, along with other leaders, made decisions that impacted many lives without really seeking His will on the matter. For many years, decisions were made based on “best practices” or our own thinking. I thank the Lord that the past 4-5 years He has surrounded me with men and women who do listen to God.
Why don’t we hear God more? I believe it’s simply because we don’t listen for Him. He is reaching out to each of us, but our attention is elsewhere, so He might as well have never spoken to us. I fear the spiritual climate in many organizations does not reflect Hebrews 13:17, Obey your leaders and submit to them: for they watch over your souls, as men who will give an account.
As leaders, we need to understand that we hold the hearts of our people in our hands. The people trust us with their very lives. And that trust includes a belief that we are seeking God’s best for their lives and not their best for our own lives or even that of the business or mission organization.
As leaders we are referred to as shepherds of the flock. There is much imagery in the picture of a shepherd with his flock, imagery we all know well. But stop and consider what being a shepherd, a leader really involves. As Sanders points out, it first and foremost entails paying attention to the Master Shepherd. And in doing that we should be aware of those things which hinder us from hearing His will. We cannot allow our attention to be diverted to other things. In believing the best, I believe most leaders do wish to hear God, but because we are devoted to the wrong things, our ears are deaf.
Giving the people we are accountable for meaningless report forms, and “team” exercises for the sake of checking an assigned leadership box are indicative of the wrong things. These are empty gestures which create more mistrust than unity or team-ness. And without trust people are unlikely to follow. If we are doing accountability right, there’s a level of leadership that is both personal and compassionate. There is also a toughness which allows the mentor / leader to say “Get behind me Satan,” when a person falls off of God’s plume line. Yet the leader MUST strive to know where that plum line is for each person God gives him/her responsibility for. When advising and leading those He’s entrust to us, we are to be sharing God’s thinking, not our own.
Leaders, how much time do you invest in praying for your people?
Leaders are you listening to God for your people?
Are hearing God both with the people and for them?