Learning to Follow the Leader
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. — Romans 8:14
When I was a small boy, my siblings and I used to play a game called “Follow the Leader.” I always wanted to be the leader, but my older sister always claimed that coveted leadership role. As leader, she had the right to tell us what to do, what games we would or would not play, who would clean the house, who would take out the trash, who would vacuum the carpets, and so on. No wonder my older sister always wanted to be the leader!
I always think of this when I read Romans 8:14. It says, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” In Greek, the sentence structure is reversed so that it reads, “For as many as by the Spirit are being led, they are the sons of God.” This version puts the Holy Spirit at the first of the verse, and we are placed behind Him — just as children stay behind the leader as they play “Follow the Leader”!
The Greek word for “led” is the word ago, which simply means to lead. It was often used to depict animals that were led by a rope tied around their necks. Once tied to that rope, these animals willfully followed wherever their owner led them.
How interesting that Paul used this word! It tells us that we should be willing to let the Holy Spirit lead us in every part of our lives. We should be so surrendered to Him that wherever He tells us to go or whatever He tells us to do, we should simply be obedient and follow.
However, it must also be pointed out that this word ago is also the root for the Greek word agon, which is where we get the word agony. Even in Greek, the word agon describes an intense conflict, such as a struggle in a wrestling match or a struggle of the human will. This illustrates the fact that although the Holy Spirit wants to lead us, our human will doesn’t like the idea of being led. You see, it’s the nature of the flesh to want to go its own way, so when we choose to walk in the Spirit and let Him dictate our lives, His leadership over us creates a struggle between our will and our flesh.
Just for a moment, think of how many times a child is tempted to rebel against his parents. Or consider the many times our flesh has rebelled against exercise or a diet that we’ve imposed on ourselves. There’s no doubt about it — the human will and the flesh are strong. These parts of us have a very difficult time surrendering control to someone else — and that includes being led by the Holy Spirit!
When I was a child and we played “Follow the Leader,” I didn’t like being led by my sister and being told what to do. I wanted to be in charge myself so I could call the shots as I saw them! Maybe that’s how you’ve been feeling about your own life. But as a child of God, you have to learn to stay in your place — behind the Holy Spirit, following His lead.
Romans 8:14 really means:
“Those who follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit, they are the sons of God.”
However, because the word agonidzo is used, Romans 8:14 also carries this idea:
“Following the leadership of the Holy Spirit is one of the privileges of being a son of God, although it may be agonizing to learn how to defer to Him and to really let Him be your Leader.”
If you want to learn to live a Spirit-led life, there is no way around it — you have to deal with your flesh. The flesh wants control, so you must mortify or defeat the flesh and allow the Holy Spirit to have His way. The struggle may seem great, but it’s the only way to live a supernatural Christian life!
Make it your goal to learn how to discern the Holy Spirit’s leading. Become His constant “tag-along,” watching to see what He’s doing, where He’s going, and how He’s leading. Stay sensitive to Him so you can pick up His “nudge” in your heart. Then once you know what He wants you to do, just fall in step behind Him and “follow the Leader”!
My Prayer for Today
Lord, I want to learn how to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. I know that You sent Him to be a Leader and a Guide for my life, so today I open my heart to Him. I ask You to help me learn to recognize the Holy Spirit’s voice and to know what He is leading me to do. With all my heart, I request that You help me become sensitive to Him so that He can lead me in all the paths You have designed for my life.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for Today
I confess that I am spiritually sensitive and that the Holy Spirit is actively leading my life. I am His constant tag-along — watching what He’s doing, where He’s going, and how He’s leading. I am so sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading that I pick up every “nudge” He puts in my heart. He is my Leader, and I faithfully follow wherever He leads me to go.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer
1. Can you recall times in the past when you emphatically knew that the Holy Spirit was supernaturally leading you to do something?
2. What were you doing at that time in your spiritual life that made it easier for you to recognize and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit?
3. In order for you to be consistently led by the Holy Spirit, what actions do you need to take to keep yourself sensitive enough to hear His voice and to discern His leading?