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The Folly of Self-Leadership

Michael Beck Michael Beck

“Woe to the rebellious children, saith the LORD, that take counsel, but not of me; and that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin” (Isaiah 30:1)

Praying is so much more than making our requests known to God. Prayer is two-way communication. Yes, we pour out our heart to God, we tell Him all about our troubles, we ask Him to work in our situation; but, we also seek His wisdom and His way, we desire His counsel, we fear to get ahead of Him and take matters into our own hands.

Waiting on God is never a waste of time. We hold a matter before God and in our brokenness we implore, “Lord, unto You do I lift up my soul. Show me Your ways; teach me Your paths.” It is so easy when we are fearful or angry or weary to move in the haste of our own spirit. Likewise, when we really want something, it is easy to give ourselves the green light forward.

The immature have not yet learned to discern between the workings of their own spirit and the leadership of God’s Spirit.

The immature have not yet learned to discern between the workings of their own spirit and the leadership of God’s Spirit. They run when they have not been sent. They make momentous decisions that will affect their own lives and the lives around them, without actually hearing from God. They are wise in their own eyes and presumptuous in their actions. Their failure to diligently seek God results in them eating the fruit of their own way instead of enjoying the favor which is the reward of the righteous.

We can be so averse to what we deem to be the “controlling” spirit of another. We don’t want them telling us what we should do. But being led by our own spirit is no better than listening to someone else’s bad counsel. We cannot be our own shepherd. “O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.” (Jeremiah 10:23)

Being led by our own spirit is no better than listening to someone else’s bad counsel.

We should place no more confidence in ourselves than we place in any other human being. Our only trust should be in God. Our only hope should be that we have sought Him diligently and are standing and walking in His counsel and no one else’s, including our own. The only proof that we have sought God with our whole heart is that we have found His true guidance and are not simply doing what we feel like doing.

The folly of moving in our own spirit minus God will be revealed in this life as God allows us to eat the bitter fruit of our own way. And the judgment seat of Christ will also reveal the wood, hay, and stubble in every self-directed life.


Michael Beck is a pastor in New York City and the main author on Signpost. Receive a daily devotional he publishes every morning via email.