Listening for God in People

Listening for God - women sharing conversation and coffee

Do you ever have a moment when God speaks clearly to you through another person? I had one of those moments recently during lunch with friends. As is often the case, our conversation wove in and out of parenting woes and joys, to our children, to what was going on in our faith lives, to our hopes and our struggles, to what was going on in the world.

My friend, Kelly, asked me at some point what was new in my ministry. I shared with her how there were some new invitations coming for retreats and speaking that I was not sure if I would say yes to or not. She paused for a few seconds and then questioned me further about my hesitations. I shared with her my fears of being in front of a larger audience, the questions I often get about being a younger woman talking about prayer and spirituality, and my own self-doubt.

She listened to me for a bit and then got quiet. Then Kelly looked me straight in the eye and said, “Becky, do you know how often we talk about wanting to hear from someone who is living our lifestyle and incorporating faith into our lives, our marriages, our work, and our parenting? Every time we get together, our conversation turns to how we long to hear from someone who lives a life like we do.”

I nodded my head in agreement. Before she spoke again, Kelly raised her finger, pointed it straight at me, and said, “God is giving you, a woman who is living our lifestyle, who is married, who has children, and who has your ministry experience, the chance to speak about it, and you are considering turning it down? I can’t believe it.”

Her words pierced right through my heart and made my heart skip a beat. I froze and sat there stunned. As I came out of my stupor, I stammered a bit and tried to respond, but I couldn’t. I realized that her words were the voice of God to me. She was right. Many times, I shared how I wanted to hear from someone juggling the roles I do and seeking to incorporate faith into all aspects of life. And honestly, there were stirrings within my heart of God nudging me to write and speak more about how to make room for God in the busyness of life. The truth was, I thought God would ask someone else, not me. Kelly’s words, though, shifted everything in me and opened my eyes to see and hear what God had been trying to speak to me for months. I knew I could not ignore the invitations before me, even if I was afraid to say yes.

Lunch with my friends that day reminded me of how often God speaks to us through people—someone saying just the right thing to affirm what God is doing within us or what God is inviting us to do or maybe to teach us something new about God. Since Kelly’s courageous words to me, I have been listening more to others I encounter not only to listen for what God might be saying to me, but also for what God might be teaching me about God at work in the other person.

What about you? How might you listen to God in other people?

After an encounter with one of our family members, friends, colleagues, or even strangers, we can pause, turn our hearts and minds to God and ask, “God, what went on in my time with this person? How did I experience you in this moment?”

Perhaps we might come to a new understanding of the other person or ourselves. Maybe the conversation opened our eyes to understanding a topic in a new way. Whatever arose in our encounter with the other person, we can stop and consider it listening for God in the people in front of us.

About Becky Eldredge 114 Articles
Becky Eldredge is a writer and spiritual director in Baton Rouge, LA. The author of Busy Lives & Restless Souls, Becky holds Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Education from Louisiana State University and a Masters in Pastoral Studies from Loyola University New Orleans. She has her Certificate in Spiritual Direction from Spring Hill College. Becky has been involved in ministry for more than 15 years, with the majority of her work in retreat ministry and adult faith formation. While ministry is one of her passions, her greatest joy is sharing life with her husband, Chris, and her children, Brady, Abby, and Mary.

6 Comments on Listening for God in People

  1. Your words, “The truth was, I thought God would ask someone else, not me,” speak of the struggle of discerning God’s will. We are blessed when someone in our life holds up a mirror to show us what they see in us. And isn’t it funny that they think it should be so obvious to US! Your words today are encouraging me to listen to what God is asking of me. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Becky, have you forgotten that those of us in a public ministry use not our own words but those that come to us from the Holy Spirit. Perhaps that is why you were having second thoughts about doing specifically what your ministry is, that is, speaking out in behalf of the Lord. Focusing on yourself rather than your audience doesn’t help remember this. God loves you and will always provide the words, IF WE ASK HIM TO HELP. Read some of Paul’s epistles again. He writes that it is not he who is performing his evangelization but the Holy Spirit Who is using him to speak. That is what happens in any public ministry if we trust in the Lord.

    God bless you and help you get over your disinclination to do your ministry’s engagement with your audiences. I offer these words in the spirit of Christ’s love.

  3. Becky – Thank you for your story and for your courage to share with others your efforts to find God amidst a hectic life. I can totally relate as a working mom drawn to Ignatian Spirituality. Please keep sharing!

  4. I GREATLY ENJOY THIS SITE, AND HAVE BENEFITED GREATLY BY JESUITS. THIS ARTICLE PROVES THE IMPORTANCE OF SMALL GROUP BIBLE STUDY. MULTIPLE TIMES I HAVE HEARD EVERYDAY CHRISTIANS MAKE SUCH INSPIRED, SCHOLARLY STATEMENTS THAT DESERVE TO BE IN ANY COMMENTARY OR THEOLOGICAL WORK.
    THANK YOU, REV. DAVID DRAPER, BAPTIST PASTOR, BOSTON, MA.

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