Dave Everson

Vox: This idea that God has a voice

photo: loudspeakersIn March, after months of prayerful consideration, I sent a letter to the Elders outlining what I had come to believe was God’s guidance for Mosaic related to moving. After discussing it and praying with them, I sent it on to the Board with a second letter, asking them to consider taking a couple of specific steps. After their own prayer and discussion, the Board decided to go ahead with what I had proposed. And last Sunday, Betsy, Larry, Darren and I shared the details of those decisions with the church.[1]

I’ve been uneasy about the whole thing since talking about it last Sunday. It’s not the decisions themselves that bother me; I’m at peace about those. But I wonder if we’ve been clear about the decision-making process, especially the role of people like me who claim to have heard God’s thoughts on the matter.

It takes a special kind of foolishness to claim to know what God wants. Foolishness in the sense that you’re willing to admit that you believe you can communicate directly with the creator of the universe. That’s a category of people that includes lunatics and crusaders, Francis of Assisi, and Martin Luther King, Jr. We God-talkers are a motley bunch, capable of great evil and great love.

As Mosaic grows and moves forward, I hope we’ll be a community that believes in and listens for God’s voice. (We have always described ourselves that way, but it’s worth reaffirming it as the new(ish) pastor.) I’m willing to accept that we will get it wrong from time to time. But I am absolutely not good with us becoming a community where anyone–pastor or layperson–is allowed to bully an agenda into place by the power of “God said so.”

That’s a powerful phrase, and it should only be used with great wisdom and humility. Use it well, and the results can be breathtakingly beautiful. Use it poorly, and you’ll damage yourself and the people around you. Either way, the two greatest commandments remain unchanged: love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. If we cannot do those things, we cannot follow any version of God’s guidance.

At any rate, I think if a pastor feels free to say, “God told me…,” he or she has a duty to explain to the church how he or she thinks that works. And since I’ve said it, I want to explain it. Almost any other time, I’d put my sermon plans on hold and spend a Sunday morning doing just that. But I haven’t felt free to because of the holiday season we’re in. So instead, over the next few days, I’m posting some thoughts here:[2]

[1] I am happy to share those letters with any Mosaic member who is interested in them. Additionally, details of the Board’s discussion and voting will be included in the meeting minutes after they are approved at their April meeting (if interested, contact Paige Langless).
[2] This blog series is not even close to exhaustive. It’s a brief survey of practical principles, so there won’t be long lists of supporting verses or other references. However, we’re planning a mid-summer teaching series on listening for God’s voice. That’s when we’ll go deeper into biblical foundations.
Photo Credits
Loudspeakers: Martin Djablik; CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license