Can I know God’s will for my life?
“What is God’s will for my life?” It’s a question I formerly heard with great frequency but not one that I hear as much now. Last evening, surrounded by millennials in a group we call 28U, I tackled tough questions swirling around the subject of the will of God. Through dialogue following the study I realized that this is still a legitimate question that people are asking with regularity. Scripture does not explicitly answer for us questions like “where should I go to school?” or “should I take this job?” or “is he the guy I should marry?” Therefore, I think it would be helpful to attempt to answer this inquiry: how can I discern God’s will for my life?
Now obviously when we assert this query we are not referring to the decreed will of God (what will actually come to pass), or even – for the most part – the declared will of God as revealed in the pages of sacred writ. We are instead referring to what I call the directive will of God which carries with it the concepts of discernment and possible failure from the unknown. What I mean by this is that when we look into Scripture (the declared will of God) we can easily ascertain what He desires of us. However, when we address the often times ambiguity of His directive will things can appear convoluted and far from clear.
So, my objective in this blog is to simply state what I believe to be the necessary steps that need to be trod in order to determine God’s directive will for your life.
(1) Scripture. Yea, I know that this is the declared will but we must never forget that our highest authority in this life is the revealed Word of God and therefore if Scripture forbids x,y, or z, then x,y, or z is not in the directive will of God for us. Scripture can also be used to confirm God’s directive will.
(2) Passions, desires, burdens, and gifts. If God has given you, as you walk closely with Him, the passion or desire for a particular field or avenue that does not run against the grid of Scripture then this could be a good sign. The caveat though is that if you have aching desires that flow from a heart that is not walking closely with Him or passions that are antithetical to Scripture then those desires and passions would in no way serve to confirm God’s direction for your life. In addition to passions and desires, the Lord will also often times burden our hearts and equip our hands for the direction that He would desire us to walk in. This is not always the case, and just because you have certain giftings does not automatically mean that you are called to a specific place or venture, but these things can serve as confirmation.
(3) The Holy Spirit. As we submit our lives to Christ and are filled with the Spirit He grants peace and clarity in the direction that He would have us to go. Careful and targeted prayer and reliance on His guidance cannot be understated when striving to determine God’s specific calling on your life.
(4) Godly counsel. No matter how ardently we are pursuing God and desperately striving to know His will, we have to admit that we are still, at times, led away by our own selfish desires and fall prey to the inner enemy of our minds or hearts. Therefore, godly, wise counsel is imperative when seeking God’s direction. I am very specific when I say godly and wise counsel. Everyone and their mom will want to bend your ear with their ideologies and it is critically important that you approach men and women who you know love Jesus, love His word, and will take seriously the counsel that they give you. Conversely, if you are praying or thinking over a particular thing and wondering if it is God’s will for you, yet you refuse or are hesitant to seek godly, wise counsel for fear of them saying “no,” then that it probably a good sign that the direction being sought is not within God’s design for you.
(5) Affirmation from authorities. In an age where no one wants to submit to any authority this final step is more often than not completely ignored. I have been a pastor for 13 years. In that time I have seen countless shipwrecked lives, broken dreams, and missed callings because consistently people (especially young people) refuse to seek affirmation from authorities in their lives. Folks pack up their entire lives and move across the country, men take jobs that separate them from their church and family, and students run off to whatever school they get accepted into without a second thought to go to the shepherd that God has placed in their lives asking if this direction for their lives is something that authorities affirm. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a play for power on my part. I am fallible and I have made mistakes in judgement. I do believe though, that God gives parents (if you are a kid) and pastors to be in positions of authority over folks to protect, direct, and affirm the calling of God on lives. If you have a godly pastor or mentor to whom you have submitted yourself, then you should definitely seek his or her counsel and affirmation when making these monumental life choices.