Pastoral Advice

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I have signed up as an intern leader for a person in our church who is completing her education. In the conversation today, I shared something that I thought might be helpful for other people. This is my simple, humble approach to sharing a thought with someone.

What do I mean by thought? Well, as a Christ follower, the Scripture is clear that Daddy God loves to speak to and through His children. But let’s be honest, most of the time when you believe God is speaking, you are not 100% sure it is Him. After all, is it simply wisdom? Or is it your own thought? A word of encouragement? Or is it actually the voice of God in your head? Any humble follower of Jesus will admit that from time to time (more often than we would like), it can be somewhat difficult to decipher where the thought is coming from.

When I am ministering to someone (whether that be in a normal conversation, praying for that person, or in a counseling setting) and a thought pops into my mind, I do one of five things:

1. Keep it to myself. Not everything that pops into my mind needs to be shared (even if the thought is from God). Might just be something the Lord knows I need to know to help this person.

2. Pray it over the person.

3. Share it with the person. However, before I share the thought, I say, “I want to share something with you that is NOT from the Lord, but I think it might help you.” Then I share it.

4. Share it with the person. Before I share the thought, I say, “I want to share something with you that I believe may be from the Lord, but I am not sure, You need to take this and bring it before the Lord and see what He says about it.”

5. Share it with the person. Before I share the thought, I say, “I believe the Lord showed me…for you.”

Now, I do not use #5 very often, especially as pastor. My words carry weight, more with some people than others. However, I hold a firm conviction that if I really sense the Lord might be saying something, #4 is the best option. It’s not that I am afraid of missing God, rather, I like to leave a little wiggle room for that person to seek God himself/herself and possibly come to a different conclusion as to what He is speaking. If a spiritual leader of any type uses the language, “God told me,” it can be hard for some people to hold that with loose hands before the Lord.

That being said, I am not afraid to tell someone, “I believe the Holy Spirit has showed me (or spoken to me) about you.” If I believe that with all my heart, then I MUST say it. It is meant to be shared with the power and authority that comes with saying, “God said.”

One of my intentions in writing this post is to help us as Christians be humble in what we do with those moments when we believe the Lord might be speaking. If you are not 100% sure, use option #4. If you are pretty sure it is not Him, then use options #1 or #2 or #3. Remember, even Paul once wrote, “To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord)…” (1 Corinthians 7:12). Wow. Part of God’s inerrant Word is a man admitting that what He is about to share is not a command from God but rather, his own opinion. And remember, if a thought you are not sure about is actually the Lord, I have a hunch that the Holy Spirit can follow you up and tell that person loud and clear that the thought is actually God. He is pretty good at what He does.

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