The indispensable aspect of spiritual leadership is guidance from the Holy Spirit. I often remind myself, our staff, and our church leaders to “obey every prompting of the Holy Spirit.” But it’s hard to obey His promptings if you don’t hear them.

We so need to hear the Holy Spirit’s voice—guiding our decisions, prompting our witness, directing our time and activities, giving counsel to our needs, directing our ministry. Why do we not always hear His voice?

Listening to the Holy Spirit takes time.

The Holy Spirit is God—not a magical genie that exists to answer our quick prayer at the moment we decide we need to hear from Him.

Hearing the Holy Spirit’s voice is part of a bigger relationship. It takes time to listen, and it takes time to build the patterns of walking with Him.

This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.—Galatians 5:16

Listening to the Holy Spirit requires sensitivity.

It’s hard to hear His still, small voice when we never silence the voices around us. Most Americans are so inundated with the voices of media and culture—not to mention the continual beeps and reminders of their own schedules—that they wouldn’t hear the Holy Spirit if He shouted to them. If we want to hear His voice, we must keep a sensitive ear and a willing heart.

We not only drown out the Holy Spirit’s voice through external noises, but we lose the sensitivity to hear His voice when we harden our hearts by violating the commands to not grieve Him or quench Him.

And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.Ephesians 4:30

Quench not the Spirit.1 Thessalonians 5:19

Listening to the Holy Spirit involves response.

What good is it for the Holy Spirit to burden our hearts if we’re not already committed to respond? When He prompts you to change your schedule to witness to someone or to pause a moment to jot a quick note, do you obey?

As you read through the New Testament, you’ll notice that those who heard the Holy Spirit’s voice were those who had a habit of responding to the Holy Spirit’s voice. He speaks to those who listen and obey.

Without the Holy Spirit’s fullness in our lives and without His direction in our steps, our ministry is nothing. Daytimers, computers, ideas, systems, processes, plans—none of it is worth anything without the Holy Spirit guiding our steps and blessing our work.

Successful ministry and successful leadership take place when we hear and respond to the Holy Spirit.

Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.—John 16:13

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