John 10:27 (NKJV)
John 20:1-18 (NKJV)
In Seminary we have to choose a major area of study, much the same as choosing a major in college. Since I love to learn, I tend to get caught up in all the possibilities when making that choice. I ended up majoring in leadership because through the years I’ve seen many many pastors struggle to survive. I wondered if there are leadership challenges that need to be met in order for young pastors to thrive. While I did learn about leadership, I walked away wondering why some pastors are great leaders while others just tread water. I’ve also noticed that some pastors succeed because they know how to surround themselves with successful people. In other words, they intentionally build a team.
If we take a step back, we realize that Jesus surrounded Himself with a team of misfits. Peter was a hothead. Matthew had baggage from being a hated tax collector. Judas was not faithful.
Actually, the only disciple who stayed with Jesus to the end was John, the beloved.
If we were to use Jesus as a model leader we would see He did not surround Himself with successful people. What Jesus DID do was to spent significant time in fellowship with God the Father. Think about it...even Jesus who WAS God spent significant time communicating with His father.
In the mid-1800’s, Charles Spurgeon was a very successful pastor in London. He was known for his powerful sermons. I wrote about Spurgeon while I was in Seminary and I learned that he believed his greatest strength was prayer. See, as his church grew, so did a team of prayers who sat in the boiler room under the chapel during services. According to Spurgeon, he attributed his success to those prayers. As it turned out, hundreds of people sat and prayed while he preached. Those dedicated prayer warriors knew the voice of God. They knew how to seek the face of God and I’d say they knew how to listen to God. I believe they prayed as God directed them to pray.
Knowing the voice of God and listening was the secret of Spurgeon’s Boiler Room Prayer Team’s success. In John 10:27, Jesus taught, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.”
They heard the voice of God and spent time with Him.
As they spent time with Him, they came to recognize His voice. That was because God knew them. They were in intimate relationship together.
When Jesus said at the end of this verse that they followed Him, He really meant they FOLLOWED HIM. They spent time getting to know Him. Many of them listened and they knew His voice.
Mary Magdalene was not one of the twelve, but she was one who listened and followed. It’s no accident that Mary was the one who went to the tomb on Sunday morning after Jesus died. In John 20:1-18 we read about her early morning trip to the tomb. When Mary went to the tomb that morning she found the tomb empty. She stood outside the tomb weeping because she thought someone took the body of Jesus. She did not expect what happened next!
There were two angels in the tomb and Jesus appeared. At first she didn’t know it was Jesus and since she saw him die, there’s no reason she would expect Him to appear. However, when Jesus spoke her NAME, she instantly knew it was Him. She knew that because she knew the voice of Jesus. She recognized His voice.
We also know that one of the twelve also spent time with Jesus. He did not believe. He did not know Jesus. Because he had his own agenda Judas did not know the voice of Jesus. His ears were closed.
It’s up to us. Surrendering, believing, turning to Jesus, and spending time getting to know His voice is a choice. It’s a choice that gives peace, love and life.
I can tell you from studying about Charles Spurgeon’s Boiler Room folks and by studying about Mary Magdalene, the WAY to recognize the voice of Jesus is by spending time listening to Jesus.
I can also tell you there are definite perks. Smile.
Today’s Spiritual Practice is: Recognize the Voice
Practice sitting in silence with Jesus. Wait for Him to speak and remember His voice. Tell God you want to know His voice. Allow God to call your name throughout the day. The way you allow it is to ask God to call your name, teach you and listen.
In God, Deborah