The following is taken from a post by Pastor Steven Furtick of Elevation Church in Charlotte, NC. The original post was written to Pastors helping in their understanding how people respond to our preaching based on their perception of us. I have expanded this great principle to include Bible Study/Small group leaders and their attendees. It is a great read into one of the largest roadblocks preventing us hearing from God.
There’s a secret to listening to sermons/lessons that dramatically affects what you and I will get from them. I call it the perception principle. I’ve preached about this before and share it with our staff regularly, but I’ve never blogged about it. I want to give it to you because I believe it will revolutionize the way you listen to sermons and exponentially increase their impact on you.
The perception principle goes like this:
I can only receive someone on the level that I perceive them.
This is true for God, and for every human relationship you have. The way you choose to see someone determines how you will treat them and how you will receive whatever they have to give you.
Negatively, this means that if you perceive your wife to be a nag, that’s the way she’s always going to sound to you. Even when she really isn’t being one. If you perceive your husband to be a loser, that’s how you’re going to receive him. No matter what he does.
Positively, it means that if you perceive someone to be wise, what they say will sound wise. And you’ll give it more weight. If you perceive someone to be ‘cool,’ everything they do will look cool. Here’s how this matters when you’re listening to a sermon/lesson. How you perceive the person preaching/teaching will determine what you’re able to receive from them. And ultimately from God.
If all you see is a person with good ideas and not a person with a message from God, that’s all you’ll ever get. If you go into a sermon/lesson with an attitude of bless me if you can, you’re probably not going to be blessed. If you go in skeptical of every word, you’re probably going to find fault. And only find fault.
On the other hand, if you perceive your pastor/teacher to have a message for you from God, you’re probably going to be a lot more attentive and engaged. If you go into a sermon/lesson expecting to hear a word from God, you’re probably going to get one.
I’m convinced that what someone ‘gets’ from a sermon/lesson has nothing to do with the skill level of the person preaching/teaching. It’s how they perceive the person delivering the message. It’s how they decide to engage. When people tell me, ‘that’s the best I’ve ever heard you preach,’ I always want to respond: No, it’s the best you’ve ever listened.
It doesn't matter who your pastor/teacher is or who is preaching/teaching to you. Whether their podcast is downloaded by millions or their messages are heard by five people, the principle is the same. Perceive them to have a message from God for you, and that’s what you’ll get. Show up ready to hear from God, and don’t be surprised when you do."
We live in a personality driven society. This approach to spiritual things just may be one of our greatest roadblocks in hearing from God daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly. I wonder how much we have missed because of this ignored sinful behavior?
If only we would show up hungry to hear from God regardless of all else!