Throughout January we’ve been thinking about hearing God’s voice. But how often do we limit that to the four walls of the church? And how can we start to tune into God in our “normal” lives as well? Today we’re privileged to share some thoughts on that from Gemma Longfellow, a senior member of an international creative marketing agency. Enjoy…
I am completely convinced that God has always intended prophecy to be part of our everyday lives; wherever we go and whatever we are doing. The church is an amazing place to get trained up and practice hearing God within our communities, but limiting it to this is a far cry from God’s full plan.
As Shawn Bolz puts it in Translating God (2015);
“The goal of revelation is so simple: See what God sees, hear what God hears and speak what God speaks so we can all love the way God loves. Revelation is given to us so we can carry a piece of God’s heart from eternity into the world… His eternal plan is for us to see what he sees, which enables us to love like he loves.”
How exciting and amazing and different would our world look if we were all living out lives connected to God, hearing what He thinks about the people we meet and situations we’re in? How amazing if we were sharing the secrets and treasures we discover with those we share life with, revealing the truth of God’s uncontainable love for them? I believe we’re in a time where God is expanding our vision and awakening dreams so that we can really see the awesome way we, the Church, can be living out in our prophetic (and other) gifting and calling as fully in the world as we do in the Church, or even more so!
The key is being authentically who God created you to be. Being fully yourself with your gifts, your way of seeing the world and your personality and letting Him use all of it wherever you go. It’s about being intentional to use those gifts you have; to have them on alert ready for God to use whenever He wants to.
I know that my primary gifting is in the prophetic. I have been and continue on in a journey of learning to see Him and hear His voice. Since my first realisation that I could personally hear God back when I was a fresher at Uni through my then new church family, I have spent lots of time at church doing prophetic training, serving on Prophetic Teams and practising hearing God personally as well as in meetings and gatherings.
That time has been invaluable and continues to be so vital in me going deeper with God and in my gifting. However, this is not where my gifting and time is meant to solely remain. Hearing God; tuning into what He is saying and doing, has become a normal part of life so that it is part of who I am.
It actually always has been, I have just had to learn how to recognise how it is that God speaks to me individually and grow in confidence in that. He’s been speaking to me since I was tiny, I just needed people further along in their walk with God to help me recognise that, and then run with it. I’m on a daily adventure of hearing God more clearly and in new ways, but I’ve been on the journey long enough for it to become normal for me to tune into God. I believe that this is God’s intention for every single Christian; everyone who is in relationship with God can hear his voice and it should be a fruitful part of their everyday life. When that happens, and we are willing to take the prophetic out of the church into our lives, wow, the world is an exciting, beautiful, hope-filled place.
Think back to or imagine a time when you didn’t know God – if someone had spoken into your life (or maybe they did) with something they had heard for you direct from His heart, how He saw you or a situation you were in, how life changing would that have been. We get to be the people that do that, I don’t fully understand it, but in His kindness and desire for connection and to live alongside us, God uses us to speak His heart, perspective and vision to people.
I work for a creative marketing agency in a senior HR and Operations role. Around 9 years ago when I was preparing for my first interview at the agency, for a much more junior position that I would be starting out in, I spent time asking God about the company and the role. I wanted to get His perspective on the company and the place I might have there, and His guidance on whether this was the right move or not. He spoke to my about a number of things in that time but two big things really stood out:
- I needed to be myself, fully myself because that is what THEY needed me to be.
- He wanted to use me to positively change the culture within the company.
I didn’t know if I was going to get the job at that point, but I approached the interview with God’s perspective and began as I meant to go on; being myself, everything I am in my Daddy God, trusting in His ability and not my own and leaning on Him and His guidance.
After getting the job and through the various changes in my role and the agency I have held on to that perspective that God gave me. It is the most freeing and life-giving thing to bring myself, fully myself, including the God-hearing part of me to work everyday. God has repeatedly spoken to me about my workplace, given me a heart for it and all we can achieve (yes, that includes being commercially successful) and for the people who work there. It has been about being intentional to lean into Him in the everyday, to want to hear Him and tune into what He is saying about the agency and ask Him for strategy on how I take my place in that and what that practically looks like. God speaks to us and gives us His perspective and He also follows through and will speak to us about the very practical things to do in order to walk in that too. We just need to practice and learn to tune into what He is saying. I’ve had the privilege of seeing Him practically fulfilling so many things that He has spoken to me about over the years and that has really built my faith and encouraged me to pursue Him more for my workplace.
From things like seeing the culture of the agency transform to honour people, be built on life-giving values and foster creativity and excellence to seeing individuals discover what they are brilliant at and being given space to grow into that; it is amazing to see God at work and be part of it.
In my job I have the privilege of being in an HR advisory role to almost all of the team as well as doing coaching and development sessions. Time and again I have faced different personnel issues, management situations or other HR circumstances where I have been in the heat of the moment and needed to speak direction or advice into a situation. I fully believe that God has positioned me where I am, to have his perspective and speak into those situations and people’s lives with His vision and hope. In those moments I don’t have time to retreat into private to ‘seek the Lord’ on the matter and come back with a fully formed ‘word’ to share. Instead it has become a normal way of being for me to be tuned into His Spirit inside of me, speaking, giving my vision, showing me things, bringing thoughts and ideas to mind that will help. It happens as those times just crop up through my normal day. I see Him move amazingly in those times, and it’s not about my ability (inside I regularly whisper ‘Help Jesus’!) it’s Him dropping His truth into my mind and heart to speak out into my colleague’s lives. There is no differentiation between believer and non-believer. There isn’t any space for religious terminology or jargon, it’s just seeing and hearing what He is saying at that moment and communicating that in a way that will bring hope and life.
It has taken practice to get to this point, and I’m excited about how much more God will use me and stretch me in these situations. It’s about starting out with the small things. Direct your focus towards Him while you are at work, ask Him what He thinks. It might feel strange and clunky at first but it will become your normal. Don’t compartmentalise prophecy to a Christian activity just for ‘Christian moments’ in life; God’s desire is to walk fully with you and speak to you ALL the time. Also practice outside of work, when you meet up with friends or at church, practise leaning into God, tuning into what He is saying to you and speaking that into whatever situation or relationship you are in and share it!
The key thing to remember is that the whole point of prophecy is to love people; so that they know and experience how loved and valued they are the perfect Father, God. That is where prophecy must start and end; with love. Just look at all the encounters of prophecy in the bible and what God says about it; building people up, edifying, encouraging and ultimately revealing God’s plan of love for people, to reconcile them to Him. I believe that God’s first thought for everyone on this planet is LOVE whether they know Him or not, and that He has made everyone unique with specific skills and gifting that He wants to speak to them about. When we take prophecy out into our work places, we take out His love to the people there and tell them how God sees them.
There is a ‘buzz phrase’ in HR at the moment that I’ve been reading about; it’s that we need to have ‘unconditional positive regard’ for every person we interact with in our roles. This made me smile because, in my opinion, this essentially is LOVE. When we prophesy we must have love as our goal; similarly, when I am coaching or advising someone I must have unconditional positive regard as one of my goals. Whatever you call it, this will help direct the person, point them towards things that will help them and enable them to walk in the things they are good at and were made to do and will enable them to leave the interaction feeling encouraged and positive. Now many an HR situation involves correction, pointing out development needs and sometimes discipline and addressing negative behaviour, but if I can speak into those situations with my experience and HR training and also call out God’s truth about that person, the gold He has put in them and the things that they were put on the planet to do, how much more hope-filled will that conversation be? God wants to use the whole of me; my professional experience, my intellect and my mind, as well as my gifting to hear him, so it has been about learning how to balance all of the parts of me to learn what is appropriate, and how to communicate well in those situations.
You don’t have to work in HR to speak into people’s lives and situations like this. My advice is to ask God to give you His perspective of your work and how you can speak His heart into that place. And then keep love as your reason for doing it.
Keep in mind what your end goal is… My goal in prophesying is for people to encounter God, to know He loves them and that they are precious and treasured to Him. My goal is not the salvation of the person I am sharing with. A ‘successful’ prophetic encounter at work for me is not that I have shared the gospel with the person, but that they would encounter God’s love and see how He sees them, though my interaction with them. At the right times God puts me in situations where I can share my faith, but that is not my exclusive measure of success. Every person is on their own, individual journey with faith, they might be near to or far away from God, I just need to be faithful to turn up where God directs me to. In the times when I meet people the best things I can do it be fully myself, walking in my gifting, being an authentic version of myself. I know that by being intentional to ask God what He’s doing and whatever part I need to take in that I can reveal the loving heart of my Daddy God to them, as my road of life intersects with theirs.