I was puzzled. During the months of training, Jane had faithfully attended classes, completing her courses with passing grades. Yet as I began to compare her spiritual growth and maturity with others in the class, I realized something was missing.
What could it be that had so retarded her spiritual growth? Could there be something in her past—a need for healing perhaps? Or a person to whom she needed to extend forgiveness?
"Lord," I prayed, "show me the clue to praying for and counseling her."
Over a period of time the clue I had been searching for began to be revealed. Jane was not in control of her emotions!
I began to see that she was seeking one emotional "high" after another by attending various meetings and other spiritual events. It was affecting her, as any addiction would.
She made statements about how tired she was and talked about problems at work, problems at home and with her children. In her "sphere of influence" both the saved and the unsaved were seeing inconsistencies in her walk with God. Enthusiasm was present, yes, but friends began to avoid her because of the drastic changes they had seen in her life.
Jane noticed the exodus of friends and family, but her reasoning was that they were not as "spiritually minded" as she. Her friends, on the other hand, were saying, "Jane is so heavenly minded that she is no earthly good. She's spacey!"
Still, the need for the "emotional fix" continued—one more meeting, one more prayer group, one more conference. Jane became a person who made all her life's decisions, spiritually and otherwise, based entirely on how it "felt." If it felt good, it had to be God!
Who's in Control?
God created us with emotions that have a powerful effect on our lives. We cannot, however, allow these emotions to control us.
When we are controlled by our emotions—by how we feel—we are settling for so much less than what God has planned for us. We begin to judge the value of things by the nature of our response to them. The world says, "If it feels good, do it." But that is not God's way.
One of the greatest problems with being led by our emotions and judging our daily walk based on how we feel is that feelings cannot be trusted! They will deceive us. People who deliberately walk into situations applying the "How does it feel?" method rather than God's truth often suffer dire consequences!
This is especially true in making decisions about important life issues such as choosing a mate, changing jobs or spending money. But it is also true in deciding how much time we spend with God. If we spend time with Him only on the days that we feel like it, we will have inconsistent lives. If we apply the Word of God only when it agrees with our feelings, we will not be walking in the wholeness God intends for us.
Our personalities are uniquely different. Some of us, as my friend Babe says, "cry even when the mail comes or when the flag goes by." She feels her ministry is "crying."
However, personality type cannot be used as an excuse for being ruled and governed by our emotions. Yes, many of us are more emotional and seem to have stronger feelings than others. But the Word of God says we are to be "led by the Spirit," not by our emotions.
"For those who are according to the flesh and controlled by its unholy desires set their minds on and pursue those things which gratify the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit and are controlled by the desires of the Spirit set their minds on and seek those things which gratify the [Holy] Spirit.
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