Of all the roles a pastor plays—teacher, preacher, prophet, counselor, visionary, fundraiser, custodian, PR person, administrator, cheerleader, event planner—my favorite is God Whisperer.
You remember the Horse Whisperer movie. An unusual horse trainer, played by Robert Redford, was gifted at calming a spooked and traumatized horse. He gently got inside the animal’s head and heart and helped it become whole again. Since then, we’ve been introduced to dog whisperers, ghost whisperers and even whisperers of the walking dead. None of that is as exciting as being a God Whisperer, though.
As God Whisperers, our role is a bit different. We are called to develop sensitivity to the way God works and communicate that to others. I don’t want to sound arrogant here—like pastors are the only ones who can or do. That’s not the case at all. But since we are called to function that way, we might as well be ready!
I don’t know if it’s my Jewish background that lends itself so nicely to God wrestling, and trying to interpret what God is up to. Or if it’s my (nominal) background in the martial arts. But I remember thinking as a pastor, “I can’t believe I get paid to work on my relationship with God! Does it get any better than that?” God wrestling and God whispering have always been my passions.
At the heart of God Whispering is a strong and vital connection to one’s own spirit and spirituality. We can’t teach what we don’t know. We can’t lead others where we haven’t gone. We can’t whisper what we haven’t heard.
But sometimes we get so busy working for God that we neglect paying attention to God. That doesn’t cut it for God Whisperers. As Chief congregational God Whisperers, it’s our responsibility to stay as tuned in to our own souls as possible. Like any relationship, the one we have with God needs time, attention, an openness to intimacy and surprise. We have to be willing to let go of control, say we don’t know, and let the other take the lead. Only after that can we help others develop their own connection with God.
Our people can tell when we’re out of touch with the Divine. Worship is uninspired, dry. Church life is same old-same old. Preaching and teaching covers well-trod ground. Even administration can get wonky. If we’re going through the motions, guess who else will be?
When we are in sync with the movement of God, though, we give off a different vibe. We find courage to be grounded in chaotic times. We have the humility to be both pastoral and prophetic. We have the confidence to question, and to lead in new directions. We are able to distinguish the voice of God from competing voices
Let these 3 questions help you deepen your own quest.
- What is something new you’ve learned about God?
- What is something new you have learned about yourself in relationship to God?
- What can you share authentically about #1 and #2 with your people?
You might think these are impertinent questions. But if God is infinite and we, in our physical bodies, are finite, then there is always something new to learn about God. Not only that, the deeper we go in our walk with God, the more we listen for the whispers of God, the more we learn about ourselves. Our people too are eager to learn something new. Yes, they want to be loved, accepted, understood and appreciated AS THEY ARE. But I think they want more than that. Being authentic with your people keeps you humble, keeps them interested, and fine tunes the ability to whisper God’s message to others.
What’s God whispering to you these days? I’d love to hear about it. So would your people. Do tell!