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Learning to follow the Spirit's lead


This story comes from episode four of TMS Global’s podcast: Thy Kingdom Pod, hosted by TMS Global staffers. To listen to the full episode, click here.  

One of TMS Global’s values is Spirit-led adaptability: allowing the work we do to be shaped by the Spirit of God in every context according to what God is already doing in each heart and community.  Jim Ramsay is chief of global operations for TMS Global, and one of the hosts of the podcast. He says cross-cultural witnesses need to daily be in tune with the Holy Spirit.  

“You go into a culture, you’re not in control, and you need to have the Holy Spirit’s eyes, and the Holy Spirit filter to see what God is doing in that culture, how the culture operates, what are people’s needs, what are the question’s they’re asking,” Ramsay says.   

The podcast hosts note there’s not a specific formula for living out Spirit-led adaptability, but there are some practices that can help us better follow the Spirit’s leading. 

Ramsay says the Holy Spirit speaks in multiple ways. “When we say relying on the Holy Spirit, that doesn’t mean you get in a room and you hear whispers in your ear,” Ramsay says. “That could happen. But it’s also reading the Word of God. It’s also being in community with each other. It’s also seeking believers from a diverse community so you get those other perspectives from the same faith.”  

Vice President for Mobilization Sarah Parham advises to start out by listening to the Holy Spirit’s voice on smaller things, so that you learn to recognize His voice.  

“Don’t test this on a question like is this my spouse or not, but test it on something like should I buy this gift for my friend or not,” she says.  

Parham says she was once struggling to figure out what to buy a friend as a shower gift. While in the store, she asked God what He wanted her to buy. She sensed He was telling her to purchase a $50 gift card, though money was tight at the time. So she bought a $40 gift card instead. 

“And I went home, and I had a $50 check in the mail,” Parham says. And it was like, oh, oh that was Your voice. So I coach people to test it out.” 

When considering whether or not something is from the Holy Spirit, Regional Director of Church Culture Sonji Pass says to think about who gets the glory out of what you’re doing or what you’re being led to do. “The Holy Spirit points back to Jesus,” Pass says. “That is His purpose. And if I’m doing this because I’m thinking about what they’re going to say about me, or what’s going to happen to me or someone else, then maybe it may not be Spirit led. But if Jesus receives the glory, then naturally it’s going to be Spirit led.”  

Sometimes, Pass says, the Holy Spirit’s voice comes as a thought that would normally be out of character for you. She says once during a trip to visit her parents, she felt the nudge to turn off the radio and pray for the vehicle during the remaining 45-minute drive. When she arrived at her destination, she pulled into an auto shop and asked an employee to check her tires. “And he comes back and he has this really scary look on his face like he’s seen a ghost,” Pass says. “He said, ‘When I took the tire off the car, I touched where the lug nut was, where that screw was, and the entire thing disintegrated. Where did you come from? When I told him that I drove 80 miles in that vehicle, he said, There’s no way that you drove for 80 miles. 

Pass says she knows that it was the Spirit of the Lord who told her to pray during her journey. “So definitely test it,” Pass says. “And if it’s something completely out of the ordinary, that gives God glory, then go with it. 

Jim Ramsay says Spirit-led adaptability means going into situations with some ideas, but also having open hands, relying on the Holy Spirit, and adapting based on the shape things take. He says the Lord enables us to do this. Though unchanging, God Himself is adaptable.  

“Look about the whole history of the Bible. People screwed up. And yet God adapts. The way His grace came out, the way He revealed Himself to people, it adjusted to the reality that people were in,” Ramsay says. “And that gives me great hope that God has plans for me, but that doesn’t mean if I forget Friday was the day I was supposed to talk to so-and-so, God just says, ‘Well, crumb, Jim screwed up my plan. I guess it’s over now. But He adapts and adjusts.”  

Ramsay says this gives him hope that if he stays in touch with the Holy Spirit and walks in faith, he can’t get out of God’s plan. He says this is the reality of a life with God. 


In addition to Spirit-led adaptability, TMS Global’s values include humble learners, people in community, and integrity. These values were written and adopted by the TMS Global community in 2020.