One of the top questions I get asked as a pastor is – What is God’s will for my life? Or it might be asked in different variations:
- How do I discover my calling?
- Should I marry this person?
- What college should I go to?
- Have I settled?
- What job should I take?
- Should I become a missionary?
All of these questions, in one way or another, is a question attempting to figure out the will of God.
I have written the last few posts about how to seek wisdom and the ultimate will of God for your life, which is your sanctification, or becoming more like Jesus over the course of your time on earth. However, how do we discover the will of God for our practical life decisions such as our college, spouse, or vocation?
Today, I want to give you four questions that I ask myself and anyone else who comes seeking counsel on decisions they should make.
Full disclosure: I have been deeply impacted by the thinking and teaching of my friend Joey Shaw on this topic. All of this content is his and you can read a more in depth series here on discerning the will of God.
4 Questions to Ask
1. What does the Bible say? The first question we must ask is what does the Bible say? Is our decision in line with the Scripture? If we want to marry someone, but they aren’t a Christian then we know that we are not permitted to marry them according to the Bible (2 Cor. 6:14). We must first line our lives up to the will of God that has been revealed through his authoritative word.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” – Romans 12:2
We must make all our decisions through the lens of the Bible. It is be reading, meditating on and letting the Scripture dwell in us richly that we fight against conforming to the world and allow our minds to be renewed. This allows us to discern what is the will of God and make decisions that honor him.
Now, the Bible won’t tell you what school you should go to or who to marry, but it will give you the guiding principles to make those decisions.
2. What does my community say? The next question you should ask is what does your community have to say about your decision? You need people in your life that know how your wired, know the Scriptures and are willing to speak honestly with you.
God has a way of speaking through his people to help give us guidance. Look at this passage from the book of Acts.
Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a member of the court of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off. (Acts 13:1-3 ESV)
The Holy Spirit spoke to the community so that they could communicate to Barnabas and Saul (Paul) God’s desire for them to be sent as missionaries. God speaks through his church.
My advice wouldn’t be to ask a large number of people because then you’ll be swimming in opinions, but to seek the advice of your mentors, pastors and friends who know you best. Listen intently to discern if you can sense the guidance of God through your community.
3. What do my circumstances say? Circumstances play a role in our decisions. Sure, there are times when you have to kick down the door to make an opportunity, but often a few scenarios are presented to us.
When a student asks me what college they should go to, my first response is usually to tell them the one that accepted them!
And he [God] made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us. (Acts 17:26-27 ESV)
God has placed you in a specific place during a specific time. There are certain circumstances that God has placed us within for our good and his glory that direct our steps. We must trust his goodness and providence with our lives, whether he is opening doors or closing them.
4. What does my gut say? At the end of the day, God has placed the Holy Spirit within you along with certain desires, passions and talents that all help guide you. One of the factors has to be the question – what do you want to do? I think some Christians feel like they can’t ask that question because it seems unspiritual. That’s not true.
“When I came to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ, even though a door was opened for me in the Lord, my spirit was not at rest because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I took leave of them and went on to Macedonia.” (2 Cor. 2:12-13).
Paul went to Troas to preach the gospel because a door was open to him. The circumstance was right! However, his spirit was not at rest. He didn’t have a certain peace about him. His gut told him something different. Why did he leave? Titus wasn’t there, so he went on to Macedonia.
Make sure to factor into the decision your desires, passions, talents and your “gut”.
Trust God and Make a Decision
At the end of the day we must make these life decisions. Often we spend too much time fretting and not enough time trusting.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV)
The Scripture says we can trust God and he will make straights our path. He is a good Father who is working all things together for good of those who love him (Rom. 8:28).
So ask the questions, pray, fast, converse with your community and then make a decision trusting that God will be with you and will make straight your paths because he will.