Praying to Hear
Leadership is unfortunately not about a destination and let’s face it, if you are even remotely in the Type A category, this makes your heart sad.
If it were up to me, leadership would be all about setting goals, getting things done, and reaching the mountain peak before dawn. The never-ending journey of learning does not meet my need for a neat and tidy bow on the top of a project, an initiative, or an acquired skill set.
This struggle has shown up most poignantly in my communication with God. Why can’t prayer be a project that gets a gold star, a pretty bow, or a check mark?
The beauty and the angst of prayer is in the mystery of how God speaks, and how I hear when I stop long enough to listen.
Over the past few months, I have been struggling with some unsettling habits that are tipping precariously to the wrong side of out of control. My neat and tidy bows, check marks, and gold stars are nowhere to be seen, and as I have desperately asked God for help, I have wondered in moments of despair, if in fact, I am so far gone that I might as well give up. This is my Type A showing up in the form of “if I can’t win then I won’t participate”!
There are crucibles in leadership that are both backbreaking and liberating all in one fell swoop. The hard lessons, the courage, and the humbling moments kill you and then resurrect you to a more grown up version of God’s plan for your life.
As this process continues to unfold in my life, somewhere in the flurry of activity and angst, God piqued my curiosity about Ezra. I cannot explain it. Over the course of a few days, I kept thinking about Ezra and wondered what I needed to know about this prophet. I finally sat down and began to read about him.
Chapter one states that God stirred the heart of Cyrus. Oh boy, here was a Type A Dictator whom God knocked over the head, and the course of events that rolled out make my head spin.
He gave away the equivalent of millions of dollars, sent a conquered group of people back to their home and in the process, acknowledged the supremacy of God. I wonder what he thought as he crawled into bed the night after he had made the proclamation throughout the whole empire, stating that he was actually not in charge? Did he second guess himself and say, “What am I doing? Isn’t this crazy”?
I read this and realized that God stirs my heart the same way for reasons beyond my understanding. This too is crazy!
God spoke to me in the pages of this book: I heard Him say:
Give up Control
AND THIS WAS JUST EZRA CHAPTER ONE!
Here’s the point: My cry for help was met with an intangible nudge toward a particular passage of scripture that held a practical solution. It was a very personal breathtaking moment with reverberating impact.
I am reminded that I need to pray with the intention of hearing because when God speaks, it is profound, life-giving, and always exactly what I need.
Your leadership journey will never be neat and tidy, and you will not get it right every time. The truth is, the longer you lead, the more you will see your need to hear God’s voice of wisdom.
Pray to hear, rather than praying to be heard.
27Blessed be the Lord, the God of our fathers, who put such a thing as this into the heart of the king, to beautify the house of the Lord that is in Jerusalem, and who extended to me his steadfast love before the king and his counsellors, and before all the king's mighty officers. I took courage, for the hand of the Lord my God was on me, and I gathered leading men from Israel to go up with me.
By Krista Penner
Krista enjoys life with her family in Mission, BC. She is actively involved in Leadership Development for Fellowship Pacific and in that role is privileged to travel across BC helping churches develop leaders. When not speaking or writing, Krista loves to spend time in her kitchen. Cooking is a passion that she pursues, even reading cookbooks like they are novels! She is married to Jerome and together they share three great kids, Linden, Erika, and Marty.