What could be more encouraging than to help someone hear and understand God’s calling on their life, i.e., to help someone clearly discern and do exactly what they were created to do?
As a mediator, I spend a great deal of my time sitting and listening to warring parties expressing their pain in, sometimes, pretty unhealthy ways. And I love that I get to do that. I love it because it is what I am wired to do. I believe it is what God created me to do. There is a scripture that says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10. There simply is no other sense of fulfillment quite like getting to make a living doing exactly what you are uniquely wired to do. I am blessed.
But how would I have ever stumbled into this work if I had never felt a sense of calling to it? I am an introvert. And my tendency is to run from conflict. So, had I merely done what “felt good” to me, I would never have chosen this path. Had I not learned better tools for discerning “God’s will”, I would surely have missed getting to do the things God created me to do. Learning to “hear” God speak, learning to discern His will, and learning to know with certainty his calling(s) on our lives are critical to this level of fulfillment.
In Five Conversations for Healthy Relationships, when we think about conversations that encourage others, one of the ways we do that is through conversations about what could be. If I want to be an encourager in someone’s life, it is more than just patting them on the back and telling them “good job”; it includes helping them see the good paths in front of them. In short, it is helping them discern what God created them to do and to be. It is helping them to “hear” from God.
One man who came to know his purpose in this world and whose story is told in scripture is Samuel. He learned to hear God speaking with amazing clarity. And he became one of the most influential voices in Israel’s history as a result of it. He also had an encourager in his life: Eli, a priest. Samuel had gone to live with Eli in the temple when he was just a very young boy. One night, Samuel heard a voice he thought was Eli’s calling to him. But when he went to Eli, Eli told him it was not him at all. It happened again, and again, Eli told him he had not called him.
When it happened a third time, Eli recognized what was happening, and said this to the young boy, Samuel: “Go back and lie down. If the voice calls again, say, ‘Speak, God. I’m your servant, ready to listen.’” 1 Samuel 3:9. The next time Samuel heard the voice, he answered the way Eli taught him to answer, and he would hear from God often for the rest of his life as a result. Here is what scripture says about him: And Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. 1 Samuel 3:19.
Samuel was blessed to have Eli in his life to help him see the possibilities of what could be. I was blessed that way too, having parents and mentors in my life to help me learn to hear God speak. One question you should ask yourself is, who has played that encourager role in your life? But even more important than that, in whose life will you play that role? Do you know how to hear from God? Whom are you teaching to do that?