Spiritual Detective

I walked through the door staring at him and there he was expressionless. The suspect sat in the chair with his hands folded, the light shimmered off the stainless-steel handcuffs. I wanted answers, but for both of us the scenario was not our first rodeo. With a quick gaze and my past experience as a law enforcement officer I knew I had a tough road ahead. I danced around his expressionless attitude with some small talk; hoping to gain his trust. I fired off my first question. He avoided it like Neo dodging bullets in the Matrix. The whole time he was talking I was formulating my next move to set the trap, thinking he’ll never see this coming. In my fervor to get him to confess I actually missed his confession. I became so focused on asking questions to elicit a response I was not listening to understand. My desire to be heard by the suspect blinded me to his actual confession. When I walked out of the room my partner was laughing hysterically and said, “I was wondering how long you were going to continue to ask him questions”?

After 20 years in law enforcement, you would think that I would have learned how to listen to understand. Instead of listening to understand, I was focused on the next clever question that would get the confession. I was listening to respond, not listening to understand. Since retiring and joining full-time ministry I have become what I would refer to as a “Spiritual Detective”. Growing in my ability to ask healthy questions.

Listening with the intent to understand has been critical in helping others with their spiritual walk. I am a “Fixer” by nature, and wow this is not easy for me! Much like Jesus modeled, great questions help people process biblical truth.

A great “Spiritual Detective” possesses three main keys when listening to understand:

  1. Remain Curious. Be curious not only about what they say, but how they say it. Pay attention to the tone of their voice, as well as their body language. Do they seem closed off, turned away from you, arms folded, no eye contact? This could be a very difficult or sensitive topic for them. You want to understand the why behind what they are saying.
  2. Asking Good Questions. Nothing closes off a conversation quicker than a closed ended question. Avoid asking yes or no questions. Seek to understand. For example, “How long have you believed “X”? Where did you first learn “Y”. Tell me more about “Z”.
  3. Actually LISTEN. Turn off your cell phone. Sit forward in your seat and make eye contact. Stay focused on the person you are listening to. Avoid interruptions.

I said before, it is not our job to fix other’s spiritual walks, but it is our responsibility to lead them in biblical truth to the one who can, King Jesus. This is the hardest for me because I am always wanting to solve this spiritual case and move on to the next.

In order to be a great “Spiritual Detective” you have to be able to sit back and just listen to people.

by James Andrew – Senior Pastor
Real Life Ministries Waller
Waller, TX