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Follower Trap #3

#3 Confusing Emotion with God’s Leading
I hear this all the time:  I feel God is leading me to….I feel God wants me to….It just doesn’t feel right to me so the Holy Spirit must be telling me to…..I felt like God was so totally in it so it must be right. And often those sentences are completed with things that really don’t stack up with scripture, or seem to be reflections of a person’s personal struggle for recognition or appear to be linked to some insecurity or struggle they are facing, rather than a reflection of God’s priorities.

I’ll say it out loud: I’m just not sure our feelings a reliable indicator of anything except how we feel.

Christians today confuse emotionalism with faith, moods with promptings, inclinations with divine leadings.  I’ve heard Christians say "I’m not going to serve in ministry until God tells me exactly what to do." Let me use my outside voice again: isn’t that just…arrogant?  Who are we to expect God to directly reveal specifically to us what we are supposed to do?  Who are we to think we get exempted from the biblical directive to serve God and others because we "feel" we need a special revelation? 

Feelings are mostly just that…feelings.  If I acted on my mood all the time, I’d probably be nominated for sainthood one hour and then commit a crime the next.  My feelings seem to wander all over the map.

God does speak to us, but mostly He speaks to us in His Word.  And in His Word He gives us direction about what matters to God and how followers should live.  That pretty much applies to all of us. 

The discernment comes in when we try to apply God’s clear teachings to our specific situation.  Through prayer over God’s word, community and listening to those God has given particular wisdom to, we can figure out how to live in the moment for Christ.  And true humility would move us to serve selflessly. Scripture directs all of us to serve, to give, to devote ourselves, to read the Bible, to worship, to show compassion.  Honestly, what the Bible tells each of us to do is not rocket science.  We know the drill. Often we just don’t want to do it.

How do you feel about feelings?  Or better yet, what do you think God feels about your feelings?


  1. Bill Laxton on January 17, 2008 at 8:22 pm

    I agree that our "feelings" are not a clear indicator of God's will in any given situation. My personal experience shows me that often, my feelings can lead me to miss or even ignore God's will in my life. Over the past week I have been reflecting on the idea of a 'small still voice' in concert with God's word from the Bible as an indication of what direction that I need to follow in any given circumstance. It is that 'small still voice' which I have found that says something (quite often), very different from the loud clamorings of the world around me, as well as my own emotions and temptations. I find myself wondering these days if it is that 'small still voice' that I would do well to listen for when I don't have a biblical reference immediately at hand to help guide me. Being human, I confess that I am not 100% certain of this idea, but in my reflections on my personal history and in particular, God's friend Abraham, I believe that it is a step toward God and not emotion.

  2. Sarah Flemming on January 17, 2008 at 12:47 am

    I think my feelings about things are all over the map – I'm glad I'm not the only one!

    I have an opportunity to serve God in the near future that I NEVER saw coming. How I feel about it and what God's word says about it are two different things.

    How I feel:
    I want to run

    What God's word says:
    "take courage"
    "I am with you"
    "I will bless you"
    (Haggai 2)

    I'm not sure if it's what I should do… but Carey, if I listen to my feelings I know I wont be doing it at all.

    I think you are right, our feelings are only and indicator of just that – how we feel.

    I have a question though, when we feel peace about something… we are acting according to God's will? Is that a feeling we can count on?

  3. june stables on January 16, 2008 at 11:28 am

    I believe God is intrinsictly interested in our feelings and our emotions as he is about everything that concerns us, but I do agree that we as Christians far too often depend on our feelings as a measure for doing what we already know is right and good and what pleases God. I for one am very thankful that we have the Holy Spirit that we can daily ask to help us to do God's will and he will do it when we are sincere. Thanks for the input Carey, we need to be stirred up all the time. God Bless

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