What does it take to get you to begin work listening to God?
“The Lord came, stood there, and called as before, “Samuel, Samuel!” Samuel responded, “Speak, for Your servant is listening.” 1 Samuel 3:10 HCSB
When Samuel was very young, still a child, God called him. The first time or two, Samuel didn’t know who it was. In vs. 7 we are told that “Samuel did not yet know the Lord, nor had the word of the Lord yet been revealed to him” (1 Samuel 3:7). Samuel thought Eli was calling him. From birth, Samuel had been dedicated to the Lord’s service by his mother (1 Samuel 1:28). He served the temple (see 1 Samuel 2:18-21), and he grew “in stature and in favor both with the Lord and with men.” (1 Samuel 2:26)
Eli the prophet instructed Samuel to say, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” Samuel must have maintained this attitude with the Lord for his entire life. Samuel served the Lord beginning with this interaction for the rest of his life and God used him greatly. Samuel anointed both of the first 2 kings for the nation Israel. He guided Israel and served as the nation’s principle prophet for his entire life.
Focus Shift – Listening to God
When you go to work each day, does your primary focus shift to your job? Mine does. Like many people, I get rather focused on making sure I complete the work my job demands. But then we go beyond completing the work and we work toward excellence. We begin to use what Seth Godin calls emotional labor to excel, doing the hard things with gusto. Higher paying jobs require more emotional labor. We spend more time preparing, listening when we’d rather yell, or working with someone rather than just firing them. We go the extra mile.
Emotional labor consumes energy and produces results. The things we focus on consume our thoughts and our thoughts direct us. If our emotional labor is focused on things of this world, we get temporal results. When we focus our emotional labor on listening to God, our outcomes are eternal.
For where a man’s treasure is, there his heart will be also.Jesus, Matthew 6:21 NASB
That extra mile programs our brains. And we bring the emotional labor to our next level, too. We plan our careers. We apply our mental energy to plan our future success. If we want to get ahead, we think about and act like we are qualified for the next spot up the ladder. We contemplate how to make the next sale, or how to improve the process so we avoid historic mistakes. If we’re leaders, we regularly bring emotional labor and new energy to inspire others to do what we would like.
Command our energy
Energy invested in our work or our career can divide us. Our dedication to hearing God wanes. Listen to other voices and before long, we no longer hear God. When I first became a Christian, I was excited to be God’s man, even though I didn’t like my work environment. After a while, I focused so much on my career that I could go days without thinking about God and how he would have me live. Only after 9/11 did I re-dedicate myself to listening to him. And after 17 years, I still struggle.
Listening to God takes practice. Begin today with the simple prayer, “Here I am” or “Speak, for your servant is listening.” Remember who you work for. If you think you work for your boss, your company, your family, or yourself, think again.
This is a 4th post on the idea of punching into service with Jesus by saying “Here I am.” To read the other posts, click here.