The Tripod of Being Spiritually Led

Jay BransfordLeadership Messages, Spiritual Leadership, Spiritually LedLeave a Comment

By Jay Bransford

The bible makes it clear that Christians are meant to be led by God’s spirit.  Romans 8:14 says, “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.”  In John 10:27 it describes how being led by God works, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”  This highlights two main responsibilities we have as followers of Christ:

    • Hear God’s voice, and
    • Follow or obey what He says

A common challenge that we face as Christians is knowing WHEN it is actually God who is speaking to us so that we can have faith and confidence to obey.

Loren Cunningham, YWAM’s founder, identified three pillars that I am referring to as the “tripod” for being spiritually led.  Loren originally identified these three things as key elements for seeing apostolic growth.  But they also apply well to our own processes of learning as leaders how to be led by God.  The three legs of the tripod are:

    • Freedom in the Spirit
    • Spiritual Eldership
    • Relationship
Freedom in the Spirit

Every person, regardless of age, should have freedom in the Spirit to hear from God and obey.  This means giving people a chance to receive revelation from God, interpret that revelation, and apply what they understand.  However, it can be dangerous to do this in a vacuum (without involving others).  Healthy spiritual leadership encourages us not to live, think, and make our decisions independently.  This leads us to…

Spiritual Eldership

Spiritual Elders have a generally recognized depth of Christian experience and maturity.  As such, they are submitted to the Lordship of Jesus and to being servant leaders.  Involving spiritual elders in your decision making process means inviting them to pray about the things you believe God is speaking to you (or your team) and allowing them to test those words against scripture.


God represents to us the perfect example of unity in relationship.  He is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  The 3-person Godhead (or Trinity) works in perfect relationship in speaking, listening, and doing.  This mirrors well the relationship that we should seek with our team and respected elders as we desire to be spiritually led.  We should strive to avoid complete autonomy and independence, and as elders we should avoid clenching onto absolute control.  Decisions should first and foremost be based upon honoring and respectful relationships – trusting that God can and does speak to each one of us.

Where to Start in Being Led by God

 Note:  The following is not meant to be a process to follow, but rather to be helpful principles and practices to try to incorporate into your life.

  • Awareness.  Be aware of the times when you are making a decision and choose to invite God into the process.
  • Bible reading and reflection. Choose a section or chapter of scripture to read.  What was the meaning of the passage? How might it apply in your current life situation?  What words or phrases seem to be standing out to you?  What may God be trying to say to you through that?
  • Prayer. Talk to God, tell Him how you’re feeling, ask Him questions, and listen.
  • Involve others.  Who needs to be involved with this decision?  Whose input should you consider?  Talk with other respected, Godly people about what you believe God is speaking to you.  Ask them to pray with you and for you.  Consider their input and take it back to God.
  • Process.  Take time to process all that you feel God may be speaking to you and/or to the group you are making the decision with.  Is there anything that seems out of alignment with the word or character of God?  What do you feel God is saying in all of it?  Are you and your team (or key stakeholders) in agreement?  What else, if anything, might you need to do, ask, research or pray about before making a final decision?

Two things to help you on your journey of learning to be spiritually led:

  • Keep practicing. Just like anything in life, the more you practice a skill, the better you get at it.  The same thing is true for developing your ability to be spiritually led.
  • Accept that you will make mistakes. Realize that no one hears perfectly from God 100% of the time.  It’s OK to make mistakes.  Keep developing your discernment to hear from God through the power of the Holy Spirit.


*For more information on Spiritual Eldership from Loren Cunningham, go to:

* For more ALLC resources on Being Spiritually Led, go to:

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