Whose Voice am I Following?
One of the greatest footballers (soccer) to ever play the game is Zinedine Zidane, the French midfielder who played the sport as an artform. Late in his career, he described a very unique aspect of being a professional and playing in front of millions of people: noise. If you’ve ever been in a stadium, you know that the intensity of noise in the midst of action is equal to the general noise in the background when there is a lull. It’s constant and indeterminable from anything specific. Zidane stated that while this remained true down on the pitch, he also found that when he was hyper-focused on the game, the general noise would disappear and he would start to notice individual sounds: “I can hear someone shift around in his seat. I can hear someone cough. I can hear someone speak to the person next to him. I can imagine that I hear the ticking of a watch. When things go badly, you feel less concentrated and more inclined to hear the insults, the whistles. You begin to have negative thoughts, sometimes you want to forget ..."
Notice the Voices
When I’m focused, I often think the noise around me is just in the background. But what am I actually hearing? What individual voices do I let through and how do they affect me?
I’ve written many times before that I’m a people-pleaser. One aspect of this is that I have a hard time not believing something said about me, no matter how untrue I know it to be.
Beyond the actual things that are said about me are the daily voices I project inside my head. They are the voices of hundreds of people throughout my life that have impacted me in positive and negative ways. What’s interesting to me is that most days I treat this as the noise of the crowd - it’s background. In doing this, I forget whose voice it is that I’m listening to.
Confront the Voices
My pastor talked about this recently and discussed the various tasks he goes through and the voice he might be hearing - working in his yard, hearing his dad’s voice ‘make sure you measure twice and only cut once!’ For me, I can hear professionals at various stages of my life saying ‘don’t give up just because it’s hard.’ Or I hear the voices of people who told me I wasn’t that great.
I’ve internalized so much of this that when I’m facing a problem or decision, I react and feel things that I don’t quite understand. I’m feeling the incongruence (or disconnect) between being my own person, following what I believe, and listening to the voices of people I live to please. What would happen if I started to ask myself ‘whose voice am I hearing?’ In other words, who is causing me to feel/decide/think about this particular issue? Is it me or someone else?
This knowledge doesn’t necessarily implicate that all voices are bad. But more often than not, I’ve allowed the negative messages to go beneath the radar. They’ve gone unnoticed for years and subtly they sound like my own voice now. “You’re not good enough…” “Nobody will like you if you say that…” “Don’t take risks they’re dangerous…” “All pain and struggle is bad, avoid it!”
The Voice of Christ
If I’m trying to live for the applause and appreciation of men - I’m going to listen to these beliefs without question. I’m going to accept them as true. I’m going to adopt them as my own. And I’m going to live an incomplete life, chained to half truths that dictate my thoughts and actions. Paul’s words to the Galatians crushed me this week:
“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
Service to Christ cannot happen if I am living for the approval of man. They are incompatible. I will either live to please the voice that told me I wasn’t good enough as a young kid or I will live for the voice of Christ telling me “you don’t have to be good enough, I am good enough for you.”
How can you replace the voices of man with the voice of Christ this week?