John Herring, CEO of Iron Stream Media, says discerning God’s will really comes down to discerning His “next best thing,” and God has provided tools for that.
In a conversation with Sandy Wisdom-Martin, executive director-treasurer of Woman’s Missionary Union and host of its podcast On the Journey Conversations, Herring laid out four simple steps to determine God’s will in any situation:
“It begins with love,” he noted. “That was Christ’s ultimate way of expressing Himself. He expressed love first.”
Likewise, love should be His followers’ first response in any situation . Rather than thinking, “Oh, I wish he hadn’t said that” or “I wish she had not done that,” believers should think first about showing love to those who have wronged them.
Value of listening
The second step is to listen. Herring suggested believers listen to two voices: 1. the person present, and 2. the Holy Spirit. When we are with someone, we have to listen in order to see how we can show them love, Herring asserted.
“I want to hear their story,” he explained. “I want to hear what they really feel and what they think.”
Believers also should listen to what the Holy Spirit is saying, which often is a reminder of truths learned from scripture in the past.
After listening and understanding comes discernment.
“If I didn’t love them first, if I didn’t listen — how could I discern what the next best position would be for me in helping that person?” Herring asked.
It’s only after believers have loved and listened that they’re in a right position to discern how to move forward, and, finally, to respond — the last of the four steps.
“So many times I’m guilty of loving last,” Herring admitted. “I want to hear you out before I decide whether I’m going to love you or not. I want to wait until I can trust you. But I think Christ trusted first … and if that’s the model, then I’m going to trust you first.”
Herring concluded by reminding listeners of the story of Zacchaeus: When Jesus walked by, looked up and saw him sitting in a tree, His first thought wasn’t, “Oh, there’s that tax collector.” Rather, Jesus said, “Zacchaeus, come down — and we’re having dinner at your house, by the way. I want to hear about you. I want to spend time with you.”
Jesus saw through what everyone else saw and loved Zacchaeus first.
Find On the Journey Conversations at the WMU website or wherever podcasts are available.