Have you ever had the right counsel and advice but had it rejected with negative circumstances resulting? Do you wish you had more favor in your family, with leaders, or in other situations? Do you want to know what to do when it seems people are not listening to you? If so, this blog is for you.
In Acts 27 the Apostle Paul’s wisdom was ignored and a huge problem resulted. Paul was a prisoner on a ship. He perceived it was not safe to set sail and shared this with the captain, but his wisdom was ignored. After the ship embarked on its voyage, a huge storm created a seemingly hopeless situation for everyone on board. In the middle of this disaster, Paul rose up and became the most influential voice and caused everyone to be saved (even though the ship was lost).
Some of you reading are in a storm, because someone did not listen to your sound advice – whether it was a decision by a spouse, a child, a leader over you, a governmental leader, or someone you are leading. The storm may be minor or it may be major. It may be a financial storm, a relational storm, or something else. Learning from the Apostle Paul, here are some keys for what to do:
Stay on the ship in the relationship – Paul stayed on the ship physically (he did not have much choice!), but also in his attitude. I can conclude this by the fact he was respected when he spoke up in the middle of the storm. When we are ignored, we will be tempted to disengage our hearts and distance ourselves from those who disappoint us, or those we disagree with. This will only lessen the likelihood of being able to really help them in the future. Certainly, there are times when we will need to set boundaries in a relationship (like not letting a drug-abusing adult child live in our home, or separating for a time in marriage as part of a healing plan to address dysfunctional issues), but difference makers will learn how to “stay on the ship” in relationships when they are not being listened to.
Receive a fresh word from God – “For there stood by me this night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve, saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must be brought before Caesar; and indeed God has granted you all those who sail with you’” (Acts 27:23-24). When we are in a storm, we need to hear the now (proceeding) word of God. “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). Paul pressed into God during this difficult time. He encountered an angel and heard a word which gave him the confidence to speak faith-filled words in a crucial moment. He became the leader who led them out of the storm. Just like Paul, God will give you a clear word, promising wisdom (James 1:5), provision (Philippians 4:19), protection (Psalm 91), or good coming from the storm (Romans 8:28).
Use wisdom when you speak during the storm – “But after long abstinence from food, then Paul stood in the midst of them and said, ‘Men, you should have listened to me, and not have sailed from Crete and incurred this disaster and loss. And now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship’” (Acts 27:21-22). During storms, people’s hearts tend to be open to divine connection and direction. Paul connected with them by 1) reminding them of what he said at the beginning, 2) releasing faith to the people, 3) giving a strategy of what to do and 4) being a strength by helping those on the ship work out the solution. (We need to be careful with #1 and not have an “I told you so!” attitude.)
Our position doesn’t always lend itself to influencing people. This was true for Paul, who was a prisoner. Like Paul, you will grow in influence as you offer supportive advice in people’s storms, and “stay on the ship” with them.
Steve Backlund was a senior pastor for seventeen years before joining the team at Bethel Church in Redding, CA in 2008. Steve is a leader developer, joy activist, a revivalist teacher, and as Senior Associate Director, is a key part of the Global Legacy (a ministry of Bethel Church) leadership team. He travels extensively throughout the world encouraging churches and leaders and has authored a number of books.