As I drove to a discipling meeting, I asked God to activate behaviors in me that would be helpful to my friends. I thought through a list from Galatians 5:22-23 that describes nine of God’s character traits that He wants to display in me. (And in you.)
Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Goodness (or Generosity). Faithfulness. Gentleness. Self Control.
Those characteristics show that we are letting God control our lives. I promised that I would cooperate with Him and, by His power, be “patient” rather than lose my cool over stuff that might happen.
Then the Lord gave me a fresh idea. I could also use other passages of Scripture like a mirror to see behaviors and attitudes He wants me to develop, change, or perfect! And who better to guide that process than God?
So let me suggest one way you and I can learn to hear from Him.
First, find a quiet place where you can be uninterrupted. Choose a short passage like Colossians 3:12-17. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you. Then turn the qualities listed there into some questions like:
- Do I have a compassionate heart?
- Am I characterized by kindness?
- Would others describe me as arrogant?
- Am I impatient?
- Do I forgive others as the Lord has forgiven me?
- Do I come across as peaceful or anxious?
Write them down. Ask God to help you choose ONE to focus on. Listen as you read them. Write down the question that best speaks to you.
Then, make some notes about how that question might be important to you. Let’s take impatience, for example:
Observe. I note that being stuck in traffic can be a bad way for me to start a morning. I find myself quick to anger, prone to competition, judgmental…and I know that doesn’t reflect Jesus in me. Or I get irritated when my spouse isn’t ready to leave on time. When my kids don’t cooperate with me, I am tempted to blow my stack. None of these responses gives evidence that Jesus is directing my life. So what can I do?
Next, reflect. Why do I react this way? Is it because my agenda is more important? Perhaps I take the self-will of others as a personal insult? What does that say about me? Is there a better way to respond to life’s irritations? Does it have something to do with my attitude toward God? Write down these reflections.
Now, discuss. You don’t have to, but you might want to share the information you’ve gathered with a trusted friend whose input you respect. Don’t defend yourself or attack others. Tell them what you’ve observed, then seek wise counsel. Just listen. This could be life-changing!
Finally, ask the Holy Spirit: “Lord, what would you like to tell me?” Listen, wait…and listen.
Write down what you hear in one sentence. If at first you get nothing, ask Him for help. Listen. Relax. You’re letting the God of the universe counsel you. This is huge! If you’re out of practice, or if this is brand new, you’re going to have to learn to do this. So…be patient.
The good news? God really wants to speak to you. His goal is to transform you to look more and more like Jesus. And if you listen to what He’s saying to you, you could make great improvements in how you do life.
But there’s a caveat.
He speaks most clearly to those who are willing to obey what they hear. So tell Him that first, and then enjoy learning to hear from God!