Following Where the Spirit Leads
The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones; you shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. — Isaiah 58:11
One of the greatest values of mentors is the ability to see ahead what others cannot see and to help them navigate a course to their destination. ~ John C. Maxwell
God is your ultimate Guide on your journey of faith. Through His Holy Spirit, He provides counsel and enlightenment for your many decisions throughout life. In fact, the Bible is full of references to the guiding power of the Spirit of God. In the familiar Psalm 23, we see phrases like “He leads me” and “He makes me,” illustrating the active influence of protective guidance for any follower of Jesus.
Jesus Himself overtly referred to the Holy Spirit as our Guide when He said,
However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. — John 16:13
Throughout Scripture, the Holy Spirit emerges as a revealer of hidden truth, as the apostle Paul said,
God has revealed them [unseen things] to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. — 1 Corinthians 2:10
BEACONS OF WISDOM
When we think about being led by God’s Spirit, we’re usually wrestling with life’s big decisions. We want to know where to go to college, what job to take, whether to date someone, how to grow closer to our spouse, or when to move to another home. One of the best models for decision-making that I’ve ever run across comes from Bob Mumford’s book Take Another Look at Guidance.1 In it he compares making life choices with a certain harbor in Italy that has three guiding lights. All three lights must align or disaster is certain for any boat entering the harbor. Based on this metaphor, Mumford’s three beacons of wisdom for sailing into godly solutions for life’s major decisions are these:
- The Word of God (Objective)
- The Holy Spirit (Subjective)
- The Circumstances (Confirmative)
This simple yet profound method works amazingly well, and I’ve referred to it for more than forty years. Based on Mumford’s model, I have often taken this mental quiz when facing a crossroads:
- Although it may not be specifically mentioned in the Bible, does it agree with the general principles of God’s Word? Does it conflict with biblical understanding?
- Does this feel right in my spirit? Or do I feel that warning in my heart that I feel when I make wrong choices? Is peace present in my process?
- Finally, are the circumstances aligning with what I have been sensing? God will make a way. If alignment doesn’t occur, it may not be the correct choice or the right timing.
Whether or not you find these three beacons and questions helpful, you will discover that God communicates His leadership in a variety of ways. Building a relationship with the Holy Spirit will open your life to direct access of wisdom in numerous ways. The Bible will become a guide for your path and create wisdom and empowerment for the bigger choices in life.
God will also bring trusted friends and advisors for you to confer with. The Bible tells us,
Without counsel, plans go awry, but in the multitude of counselors they are established. —Proverbs 15:22
Some of your counselors, such as pastors, parents, or teachers, have already had influence in your life. Their wisdom often lingers through time. Their words and deeds become an example that resonates powerfully throughout your entire life. But there are also times in your life when the wisdom of the Spirit compels you to seek assistance from other people.
Looking back, I have developed numerous guides in my life. Some of them were birthed out of organic relationships and others emerged in more deliberate, professional settings. Whether you visit them in their office or treat them to a casual lunch, many professionals love to help give you insight based on their expertise. Business owners, bankers, accountants, artists, and entrepreneurs are often willing to become mentors or friends, providing a relational context for their shared information. The best guides for your life will care about you and want to look out for you and your best interests. These are the ones who will pray, guide, instruct when asked, and support you even in troubled times.
The best guides often reflect the wisdom and grace of God. They display an innate desire to create solutions and help others discover how to move forward. If their motives are wrong, their help can easily become manipulation. But true guides will empty themselves and invest all they are in the success of another. They have passed where you are and know the pitfalls and challenges. While they’re not perfect, they’ve learned a thing or two and want to help others know what they wished someone had told them.
A spiritual guide is able to understand the timing of when you need advice and when you need silence, and a listening ear are essential.
A godly guide will lead you to truth, either pointing you specifically to God’s Word or presenting fundamental principles from the Bible.
This kind of guide will speak with authority yet not be an authoritarian. These guides will impart truth that is beyond them. The goal of a Spirit-led guide is to help you find your own way, trusting that God is already at work in your life.
1.Bob Mumford, Take Another Look at Guidance (Plainfield, NJ: Logos Publishing, 1971), 65.