For some time now I have been encouraging leaders to follow their gut or their instinct when faced with a decision. Some seem to understand; others want more data. So let me say some more.

Lately I’ve become convinced that one of a leader’s most valuable characteristics is instinct. Instinct can’t be taught; it can only be caught.

Where do you catch instinct? Good instincts come from two places. First, how well one can trust their gut feelings is dependent on how strong and clear their call from God is. Strong and clear are the key words. If a person knows beyond a shadow of doubt that he or she is called to do something specific, then that person has a bench mark from which to evaluate how to respond or act. The clearer and sharper the call, the easier it is to trust your instinct.

For example: My call has always been to make disciples. But not only that, I also felt called specifically to restart the church I stayed at for 24 years. So my gut always either tightened up or felt right based upon whether my actions or decisions lead to those two goals no matter what anyone else thought. So, how clear is your call? Do you need to re-examine it? Are you living that call out in your ministry? If not, don’t trust your instinct; change the way you live your life.

Second, the stronger a person’s prayer life the more apt a person’s gut is to be the best barometer on life’s issues. If a person is working himself too hard and not nurturing their spiritual life, telling them to trust their gut is meaningless. But if that same person is spiritual fresh and alert, trusting their gut makes total sense.

So the next time you hear me say “Trust your gut” also hear me ask “Are you doing what you were called to do,” and “How close are you and God these days?” How you answer these questions determines how well you can trust your instinct.