As Christians, we are constantly seeking God’s direction about the decisions we make.
What should I do with my life?
Where should I go to college?
Who should I marry?
We pray and listen and wait on God until we have an answer. This may sound like the right thing to do, but sometimes seeking God’s direction for your life can actually be a big time waster — and a stressful one, at that.
One of the most quoted scriptures about seeking God’s direction for our lives is interpreted backwards. Proverbs 16:9 says, “A person plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps.”
Too often this verse is used as a rebuke to those who over-plan. The thinking goes, “You don’t need to plan because the Lord will direct you.”But that’s not the point here. This verse not only encourages us to make plans, but even assumes we will. And then it says that as we follow that plan, we will see along the way how God orchestrated our path in ways we would have never expected.
The problem with seeking God’s direction.
The truth is, God rarely gives us clear direction for life decisions. Instead He has given us the ability to plan, seek wisdom, and make smart decisions on our own.
But we want certainty about the decisions we make. We want to remove all risk of possibly making a mistake, so we seek direction from God. We look for a sign, or confirmation, or a sense of peace to try to combat our uncertainty.
The result is often discouragement and indecision.
I love what Kevin DeYoung says about this in his book, Just Do Something:
Passivity is a plague among Christians. It’s not just that we don’t do anything; it’s that we feel spiritual for not doing anything. We imagine that our inactivity is patience and sensitivity to God’s leading.
I would suggest that most of the time our inactivity is ultimately caused by fear. We’re afraid of making the wrong decision so we don’t make any decision at all, and we call it “Waiting on God.”
But if we’re honest, usually we’re not really waiting on God. We’re just buying time. We’re stalling because we aren’t sure we’re making the right decision.
So as it applies to big life decisions, here are 4 ways to know God’s will for your life in almost every circumstance.
1. Do what you want to.
One of the major inner conflicts Christians face when trying to discern God’s will is knowing the difference between God’s voice and their own desires.
“Was that me or God?”
This is not only frustrating; it’s actually the wrong question. God often leads us through our own desires. He’s the one who has placed those desires inside of you. So if there is something you are interested in and want to do, go do it.
Make a decision, take a risk, chase a dream.
You don’t need God’s permission; you already have it. He designed you with the desires you have for a reason. Go explore them and find out what that reason is.
2. Do what you have to.
The question really shouldn’t be, “What do you want to do with your life?” It should be, “What do you have to do with your life?”
In other words, what are you so passionate about that you can’t not do it? What has grabbed your heart and wont let go? Go do that.
I love this quote by Howard Thurman:
Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.
3. Do what magnifies God.
To magnify is to make something look bigger. Another way to say it is, do what makes much of God. Or to say it Biblically, “Whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God,” (I Cor. 10:31).
This can be just about anything.
You can magnify God as a plumber, an accountant or an actor on Broadway. You can magnify God by going to the local college, to Harvard, or even by not going at all. And you can magnify God, not by choosing your perfect, God-ordained spouse, but by being faithful to whoever you choose to marry.
Magnifying God is about having a heart of worship, and you can do that with just about any life decision you make.
4. Do what’s in front of you.
This might be the most important one.
Many people believe they have a big calling, but they don’t want to do the hard work to get there. Instead, they wait for God to drop a big opportunity into their laps. But following God doesn’t mean you get to take a shortcut to your calling.
We all have dreams and desires. But, at least in the beginning, those things are far off.
You might want to be a CEO, or a successful artist, or even a pastor. Those are all great desires, but none of those opportunities will just fall into your lap. They take time, experience, hard work, and even a bit of luck.
Your focus, instead, should be to do what’s in front of you. Because that’s the only thing you can control.
You can’t make someone hire you as a CEO, but you can work hard to earn a management position, and you can seek wisdom from other business owners you know. You can’t make someone pay you for your art, but you can start a blog or form relationships with local artists who are further along than you. You can’t make a church hire you as their pastor, but you can disciple the people around you and ask your pastor to mentor you.
Dreams are out of reach, that’s why they’re called dreams. But the next step is not. It’s right in front of you.
If you liked this, you’ll love my FREE eBook, “6 Lies Your Need To Stop Believing About Your Calling.”