What's the number one question I get asked about as a pastor: How do I determine God's will for my life?
Should I go here or should I go there? What if I make the wrong decision? How do I know for sure? What do you think I should do?
Let me first say that God can speak to us in a variety of ways. Sometimes through prayer, through his word, through a trusted friend, mentor, or spiritual advisor. When trying to decipher God's will I believe that obedience trumps everything. If God speaks or leads then we must follow.
What about those moments when we're not sure? When God hasn't necessarily spoken to us? This is when things get a little trickier. This is when it's easy for our own selfish motives and desires to get mixed into "God's will" for us. Let's get one thing straight. I don't believe we are supposed to walk around in fear of missing God's will. I think his grace is sufficient in our weakness and uncertainty. I do, however, believe there are certain principles that should help guide us on the journey.
The first question we must ask is this: What is God's primary purpose for my life? Although our verbiage may differ, I believe our biblical response would be to enter into a loving relationship with God through his son, Jesus Christ.
Let’s please stop right there for a minute. You need to let that settle into your heart and mind for a second. God’s primary plan and desire and will for my life is to know him intimately. As Dr. Robert Clinton says in his book, The Making of a Leader, your secondary calling (what God has called you to do) must always be birthed from your primary calling (who God has called you to be). So, if God’s primary desire for us is to know him more then shouldn’t that be at the center of our decision making process? Shouldn’t our primary question be somewhere along the lines of this: Will this decision I’m about to make draw me closer or farther away from Christ?
This single question has helped me navigate many crossroads along the way. This question has caused me to stay put and persevere through a season of difficulty as God does some deep work in my heart. This question has caused me to step out in faith, quit my job, move to a different city and trust God in a way I never had previously. Answering this question honestly has given me a great deal of direction that has helped me align myself with God’s desire for my life. In fact, I believe it's extremely difficult to go off course when we are honestly asking ourselves that foundational question.