Since I posted about Beth the other night, I've been asked several times how I manage to get into such great conversations and get to the heart of an issue. I think this is worth writing about, because I wondered the same thing not long ago. Well, here's the answer, but be warned, it takes commitment and investment of yourself.
First, I read scripture daily. Okay, I try to read scripture daily. I mean, let's be honest. I am so very human. But the point is that I yearn to know Him deeper daily and getting in His Word is important to me.
Second, I surround myself with people who encourage me to share Christ with others and who praise me when I stretch toward my goals and dreams. My friends, colleagues and family are all very much behind me in what I do. This builds my confidence, which is a huge factor when the enemy would throw my fear in my face to keep me paralyzed.
Third, I started saying to the women who come into my life: "I am committed to praying for my team members regularly, so I want you to know I am praying for you. But I'd like to know if there is anything specific or hidden in your heart that you'd like me to pray about." Then I just listen. When someone shares a bit of something with me, I often ask more, or I simply say, "Tell me more about that." Those five words will take a conversation a long way and women yearn to open their hearts and have someone truly listen.
Another thing: I have started to pray regularly that God would help me to see my people and know their needs. I am amazed at how my eyes have been opened when I pray this.
Lastly, in the midst of the conversation, I keep praying that the Holy Spirit guides my words. There are times when God puts a thought in my head that I feel compelled to share and other times when He says, "Be quiet." That happened a few times with Beth, when she just needed to process and hear Him.
Learning to hear the Lord's voice and follow His guiding is a spiritual discipline, and like other disciplines, it can (and must) be learned. If you don't know how to hear His voice, think back to a time when you know God was speaking to you. Think about what He was saying. Sometimes He speaks through events, other peoples' words, or thoughts He places in your mind. If you can think back to that time and remember what it felt like to hear His words, then you can keep looking and listening for more experiences like that. Pray and ask the Lord to help you hear Him and clearly know when He is speaking to you. Then when you think you hear Him, search the scriptures and make sure that what He is saying doesn't contradict his written Word. If it does, it was not His voice you heard.
To many of you, this is basic stuff. To others, it's new. You (like me 3 or 4 years ago) have never been taught these basic disciplines. The great news is that it's never to late to learn and an old dog can learn new tricks.
And now... I'm off to count to eleven with my son.