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Following the Leading of the Holy Spirit

Last month I wrote about an all-day pastors gathering where I was asked to speak on ‘Ten Practices of Highly Effective Pastoral Leaders.’  Last month, I highlighted one of the practices – Do not allow antagonists to set the church agenda. This month, I thought I would highlight another point from my seminar – the importance of pastors seeking and following the leading of the Holy Spirit.

John 5:3-9 presents Jesus coming to the pools at Bethsaida, an infirmary to thousands of desperately needy people looking for a miracle.  John tells us…

Here a multitude of disabled people used to lie — the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”

“Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”  Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.    

From what we understand from John’s account, Jesus goes to Bethsaida and heals one person.  One person.  The obvious question is – why not heal more.  Jesus could have healed everybody – but he chooses to heal only one.  No doubt, there were thousands begging him for his healing touch. Later that day, did Jesus feel guilt and remorse for only healing one?  Of course not!  Jesus’ actions were not driven by opportunity or need.  His actions were not dictated by the expectations of others.  He was led by the prompting of the Holy Spirit.  While the Holy Spirit is not specifically mentioned – he is all over this passage. While we struggle with regret – Jesus did not.

What if pastors committed themselves to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit before fulfilling the expectations of their congregation?

Needs and opportunities confront pastors every day.  And, pastors are called to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit every day.  Faced with an overwhelming to do list, countless phone calls to be returned, long lines of members seeking a meeting with the pastor – pastors need to look to the Holy Spirit to determine which appointment, which call, which task should take priority.  This would mean that they would be following the leading of the Holy Spirit rather than allowing their schedule to be dictated by church members.

Pastors are so driven by the expectations of others that they go to the hospital instead of the little league game of their child.  Because of expectations, pastors attend another church board meeting rather than going to the local bar to meet with the man struggling with his marriage.  Even though they may be living a life controlled by the Lord, when pastors cease to fulfill the expectations of the church, they commonly get fired.  What would the church look like if pastors committed their daily schedule to being set by the leading of the Holy Spirit – not by the expectations of their congregation?

At PastorServe, our passion is to help pastors listen to the Holy Spirit.  Our mission is to provide relationships and resources that will allow every Pastor in America to have access to equipping and care for the challenges and crises they face.  Please join us in praying for pastors – your pastor – that rather than living a life marked by regret – they would joyfully follow the leading of the Holy Spirit living a life of obedience to our gracious Redeemer.