When God Speaks
I have a favorite preacher. He pastors a very small church in South Carolina called The Father’s House. His name is Van. How did he edge out the competition to take the coveted title of “Doug’s favorite preacher”? It’s all in what he doesn’t say. You see, Van won’t preach if God doesn’t tell him what to say. Van never plans out a sermon series. He doesn’t even start with a topic in his head. Every week he prays and waits to hear from God. Some weeks he doesn’t hear anything. On those occasions, Van tells congregants that he loves them, that he didn’t hear anything from God, and that they’re free to go home. But when God does tell him what to say, you better listen closely. It’s powerful.
What about you? Do you listen for God’s guidance in every aspect of your ministry?
I’m not saying that you should gather up your curriculum and the notes for your large group talks and toss them out the window. The Holy Spirit can guide your thoughts during the planning stage just as well as off-the-cuff speeches. But think closely about the entire process. Where does God fit in?
Do you listen for God’s direction when you’re casting vision for your ministry? Do you ask him for guidance when you’re devising curriculum? Do you pray about what he wants to teach your students? Do you look to him when studying Scripture? When searching for illustrations? When writing the outline of your talk? And do you leave room for him to act when you’re engaging students, from up on a stage or just behind a coffee shop table?
It’s tough to quiet that buzzer in your head that says, “Just get it done.” It’s always easier to bury yourself in the tasks of speech preparation, event planning, and staff meetings. But until we make room for God to act in amazing and mysterious ways and guide every aspect of your work, all of these things are worthless.
At the end of the day, your student program isn’t your ministry to students. It’s God’s ministry to students. Sometimes his ministry is done through you. Other times it’s done through volunteers. Or parents. Or even other students.
“Your student program isn’t your ministry to students. It’s God’s ministry to students.”
By relying on yourself and staying too busy to invite God into the process, like a clog in the drain, you’re actively hindering his influence in your ministry. But by listening for God’s voice in everything you do, you become an open valve through which God can flood your ministry. There’s no middle ground here—you’re either the blockage or the Drano. You choose.
When I got married, I asked Van to officiate our wedding. He said he would be honored, but only if God told him what to say. Two days before the wedding, Van called me and said, “Good news! I had a vision of your marriage, and God told me what to say.” My soon-to-be wife, Angie, and I looked at each other and let out a simultaneous, “Phew!” Sure, we were relieved that our ceremony could continue as planned. But more importantly, we knew that Van was inviting God’s influence to drive his words as he blessed the covenant we were about to make. And that’s a good way to start a life together.
About the Author
Doug Franklin is the president of LeaderTreks, an innovative leadership development organization focusing on students and youth workers. Doug and his wife, Angie, live in West Chicago, Illinois. They don’t have any kids, but they have 2 dogs that think they are children. Diesel and Penelope are Weimaraners who never leave their side. Doug grew up in… Read More