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Hearing God’s Voice

Written by Chuck Olson

November 2012 – “Box out! Box out!”

If you have ever played on a basketball team, you know exactly what that sidelined shout is all about. Every year, every season, every coach will invariably drill his players on how to BOX OUT. Now for those who have somehow missed out on the agony and ecstasy of the hardwood, in hoops vernacular, boxing out is the fine art of “creating space” by aggressively backing away your opponent from under the basket. This activity in turn increases the chances of your team getting the rebound. Got it? (As I write this, my heart is pounding and the adrenaline is pumping!).

Creating space by boxing out is not only true for a basketball player, it is also true for a spiritual leader. Let me unravel that thought a tad.

It is my contention that job one of a spiritual leader is to create space to hear the voice of God. Now admittedly that’s a different mental model from what we are exposed to in the marketplace day-in and day-out. Right? For example, a CEO of a Fortune 500 company does not think or act in this manner. In her universe, it’s all about hearing from stakeholders and stockholders.

But for the SPIRITUAL leader who is seeking to lead an endeavor in a manner consistent with God’s plans and purposes, whether large or small, it becomes acutely necessary to hear clearly what those plans and purposes are.

Like so much in life, easier said than done. You know it like I know it. We live in a world of distractions. A world of noise. Traffic horns blast out impatience. Flat screens decorate the walls of public spaces with never-ending news alerts. And iPods continuously echo in our ears.

So how do spiritual leaders “box out”? How do they create space to hear the voice of God?

To these questions, allow me to put a few thoughts into play for your consideration. And for the sake of ease (and to placate my preacher proclivity for alliteration!), let’s call this the “three Ps” of hearing the voice of God.

 Posture. What posture of body seems to best position you to commune with the Lord? Standing? Sitting? Kneeling? Personally speaking, my greatest moments of clarity in hearing God’s voice have come while I have been walking or jogging.

• Pace. When you are most apt to hear from God are your RPMs ramped up or throttled back? We get some pretty good clues and cues to this question from Jesus who often retreated to a “secluded place” and from the prophet Elijah who heard from God not in the wind or the earthquake or the fire, but in the whisper.

• Place. What is the location that most often creates the space for you to hear from God? A backyard garden? Shoreline of a lake? A local retreat center? If you are like me, communing with God in the quiet and beauty of His creation is fundamental. Since I live in the San Gabriel Valley of Los Angeles, I am close to the foothills of the Angeles Crest forest; and after a very short hike, I can be completely detached from the sights and sounds of the city—ready to listen.

So while Wall Street leaders owe it to their constituents to hear the voice of their stockholders, spiritual leaders owe it to their followers to hear the voice of the One Who most often speaks in the whisper.

So when it is all said and done, in the middle of the noise that attends the game of life and leadership, don’t forget to…

“Box out!”


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Chuck Olson

As founder and president of Lead With Your Life, Dr. Chuck Olson is passionate about inspiring, resourcing and equipping Kingdom leaders to lead from the inside out.  To lead, not with the external shell of positions, achievements or titles, but from an internal commitment to a deep, abiding and transparent relationship with Jesus. Serving as a pastor and leadership coach for over forty years, Chuck has a track record of building these truths deep into the lives of both ministry and marketplace leaders.

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