My wife, Joanne, and I are in the middle of following up with people after our Neepawa Vision night we hosted a while back. We had given people a response card to indicate what level of engagement they might be interested in with getting the new location off the ground. We're now having people into our home to hear their stories and heart and why they're interested in Neepawa.
These are very exciting nights for us - there is something very powerful about a person's story. You hear their history, passions and what God is doing in their lives now.
Having people into our home is probably one of the best things that we can do to help further momentum and excitement with Neepawa - but it also has a potentially greater impact: spiritual listening.
I was first introduced to the discipline of spiritual listening during a very dry and boring college course, Advanced Spiritual Formation. In the class, there were different books and assignments where we would learn about and practice spiritual listening - in which, honestly, I would just use as a great opportunity to skip and do more "meaningful" homework.
Spiritual listening - as I understand it - is the practice of using discernment and guidance of the Holy Spirit to listen to what people are saying and then be able to speak into their lives based on what you are able to discern what God is doing in their life. I ended up getting a pretty low mark in the class because I was so short-sighted that I couldn't bring myself to care about the course or see how it would actually translate into "real world" situations.
The real-world application comes in where because, let's face it, we are all pretty dull most of the time to being in tune with what God is doing in our own lives. We have short memories about what God has already done in us, what the Holy Spirit is doing in our lives and how Jesus is leading us. We can spend so much time "looking" for the path Jesus has called us to follow and end up frustrated that we can't see it - all the while, fellow believers are able to illuminate us the fact that we are currently, in fact, standing on the path.
The other night was one of those nights, where we were able to be blessed by the testimony of a couple, while at the same time, practice some spiritual listening for them. This couple shared their passions and frustration with not knowing where they are supposed to be going in their life. Their frustration was apparent - which was interesting to us - because as soon as they left, Joe and I, turned to each other and said "I know what they're supposed to be doing!"
It was so obvious to us - as we listened to what God was revealing to us about them - what their calling was and how they could be making a big difference in the lives of others around them. They seemed unable to see in their lives what was so apparent to us.
I wonder how many times I am missing out on seeing God work in my life because I don't allow others to practice spiritual listening to my story.
I will be following up with them in a couple days to talk with them about how they are processing the evening and allow my testimony to bless and encourage them.
When is the last time you had people into your home as a pastor just to listen to people tell you their story? Practice some spiritual listening and be prepared to both be blessed as well as bless them by doing so!
What about you? Have you ever practiced spiritual listening for others or had things revealed to you as others listened to your story? Let us know in the comments below!
I am a pastor in rural Manitoba that is passionate about the church, leadership, coffee and bicycles.