Revelation is about hearing God, and hearing God is a matter of faith. God rarely speaks so clearly that there is no possibility of doubt—to do so would compromise our free will. We see through a glass dimly because to see God in his fullness would completely overwhelm us. God has designed the world to work on the basis of faith because that’s the only way we can relate to an omnipotent God as free agents.
However, since God doesn’t eliminate the possibility of doubt, doubt arises when hearing God. You see it in clients who seem to spend forever “seeking the Lord” before they take a single step, because they doubt that they have heard accurately, or those who know which way to go but pursue it hesitantly, afraid of failing or missing the mark. Sometimes the word “calling” is freighted with such spiritualized expectations that nothing God says can meet our standard of proof.
Remember: the vast majority of the time, the problem is not hearing God say something, but having confidence that you heard. Given that, simply believing in the doubting client is often the biggest service you can give. I like to approach these situations by assuming that God has already been speaking, and constructing my questions accordingly. Here are some of my favorites:
- “So what have you heard so far?”
- “Take your best shot: what is God saying here?”
- “What do you think you might have heard?”
- “What’s the clearest thing you have heard from God on this, even if it seems fuzzy?”
- “Have you had any experiences where you thought it might be God’s call, but then later you discounted it?”
Many times, just recounting what they thought they heard and being taken seriously provides enough confidence for them to move forward in what they’ve heard. Another tack is having them talk about what they might have heard, or heard and doubted. Sometimes the box they have for “God’s voice” is too small. Verbalizing those expectations can reveal when the issue has been over-spiritualized. So I might ask, “If God had spoken to you about your call, what would that have looked like?”
For those who still don’t believe they’re hearing God, inquire into what the client gains by hanging onto their unrealistic picture of calling. “Why is it important to you to hear a call in this particular way? What does that give you?”
Tony Stoltzfus is a best-selling author, leadership coach, master coach trainer and director of the Leadership Metaformation Institute. Additional information on this topic can be found in Tony’s book, The Christian Life Coaching Handbook.