Dubli+finger+ears Kids who don't want to hear what someone is saying will put their fingers in their ears, close their eyes, and say, "La, la, la, la, la, I can't hear you…la, la, la, la, la." So do churches. It isn't usually intentional, but it is rooted in the need to avoid the pain of hearing what needed to…what someone (perhaps even God) is trying to tell them. This is to be distinguished from tuning out ungodly voices that are intended to do little more than discourage, demean, and inflict harm. Those voices need to be dealt with differently.

Some churches fail to hear the voice of the Lord because they put too much stock in "expertise" and worldy wisdom. Others fail to hear the voice of the Lord through expertise or wisdom of experience or age. Other times it's good ole fashioned pride—the simple conviction that, "I'm right, therefore I am."

In either case, failure to listen at a crucial moment can be a small mistake with huge consequences.

Imagine someone receiving bad news from their doctor. The doctor says the person needs to have surgery. Upon receiving poor news, the patient chooses to believe the doctor must be wrong. They seek a second opinion, which verifies the doctor's diagnosis. Still in denial, the patient goes to their friend who is a massage therapist (not a doctor) who says they see nothing wrong with the patient. So, the patient goes forward, living as they had before—convinced the doctor was wrong and the masseuse was right.This, even as the symptoms of the sickness worsen day by day.

Six months later, they're dead.

A church can be told they need to make a particular change or die by someone who knows. They disagree. So, they ask someone else, who verifies the church needs to change or die. Still unconvinced, they harden their positions and enter the proverbial "echo chamber" in which they can only hear and validate the opinions of those who tell them what they want to hear. So, the advice they receive is more positive. However…

Six months later, they're dead.

This isn't to say that all advice is created equal. Advice from fools will sink a church or a leader perhaps even faster than not listening at all. But, listening for God's voice among His people and in His word is one of the keys to wisdom…and blessing in ministry. Remember these verses:

"The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice." – Proverbs 12:15

"The ear that listens to life-giving reproof will dwell among the wise. Whoever ignores instruction despises himself, but he who listens to reproof gains intelligence. The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom, and humility comes before honor." – Proverbs 15:31-33

Pray. Look to God's Word. Stay humble. Stay open. Seek wisdom. Listen.

Any stories out there of failure to listen causing a problem for your church?

What types of things are hardest for churches to hear?