Spiritual Guides: Experts at Listening
Spiritual guides are not experts at talking and giving opinions; they are experts at listening.
1 Samuel 3:1-18 illustrates the role of a spiritual guide in a disciple’s life. In this passage, the young Samuel hears a voice call his name three times, and each time, he runs to Eli – but the voice is not Eli’s. Although his eyesight is failing, Eli sees what Samuel does not; he understands that God is trying to speak and instructs the boy to listen.
Eli provides excellent spiritual guidance; as a priest who has studied God’s word longer than Samuel, he recognizes that the voice could be from God. He does not make assumptions about what God wants to tell Samuel, but rather he instructs Samuel to simply listen and obey. He also encourages Samuel to be honest and report exactly what God has told him, even though it is difficult. And finally, he confirms spiritual truth to Samuel, telling him, “He is the Lord. He will do what He thinks is good” (3:18).
Samuel, for his part, persistently comes to Eli and shows eagerness to listen. The Bible says that “the boy Samuel served the Lord in Eli’s presence” (3:1); his whole spiritual life lies before Eli, and he remains open to correction, unlike Eli’s notorious sons.
Ask yourself, how would you have responded to Samuel’s persistence? Identify the “Eli’s” in your life who have listened to you with patience and helped you name your experience of God.