As a pastor, this is one of the biggest, hardest, and most common questions that I’m asked, “How can I know God’s will for my life?”
Pastors let’s be honest, it is one of the biggest, hardest, and most common questions we wrestle within our lives. We can sometimes frame it, “What is God’s will?” or “Where is God leading?” It all boils down to the same thing, we don’t know what we are doing.
I guess that’s why we call it, faith.
I believe that there are three ways we can know God’s will for our life. However, before we get into that, I need to point two things out.
1) As Christians, our primary goal has been spelled out in Matthew 28. We are to go telling of the Good News, making disciples, and teaching them to obey. That means it doesn’t matter what you do, whether a sanitization worker or the Pope if you are making disciples you are not outside of God’s will.
2) God isn’t trying to trip you up. He isn’t waiting for you to make a mistake so he can charge you with a demerit as though he is some corporal camp counsellor. God isn’t angry when you make the wrong decision. Hurt? Sad? Yes! Just as I am disappointed when my kids do the opposite of what I tell them. Are there consequences? Yes, but they don’t lose child status. As you try and discover God’s “will” for your life, remember to do your best and invite the Holy Spirit to help you.
Now that we have those two points prefaced here are three
1) You prayed, and it feels right to you.
You have prayed, and you feel at peace. You may not think it is the best idea (or maybe you do), you may not even feel that you’re qualified (which you may not be), but that never stopped God. Look throughout the Scriptures, and you will find a motley crew, both men and women, who God used to change the world in big and small ways which were not qualified and often God’s plan for them was anything but logical.
It’s not a question of whether it makes sense or that you’re qualified, or whatnot, it is a matter of inviting God into the process and allowing Him to give you the peace and strength you need.
2) Test in Community
Even the apostle Paul brought what God had called him to before others. We need trusted people in our life who we can share what we believe God is saying to us. These need to be people who have shown that they, in faith, have followed God’s will for their lives. They need to be people of wisdom. They need to be people who aren’t going to blab (loose lips sink ships), and you need more than one.
How do you know it’s not some crazy idea you concocted yourself? How do you know it wasn’t the leftover pizza you ate last night. Community is a resource in this area. As you seek God’s face together, you can ask the Holy Spirit to speak to each of you regarding the situation and compare notes.
These two steps are incomplete without the third, and vis versa.
3) Test with the Scriptures.
We have the blessing of ancient wisdom that God inspired. The book of 1 Timothy, Paul, tell us it is “God-breathed.” The church has wrestled with what that means exactly, but what we know is that the Bible is essential, it’s vital, and it presents incredible wisdom.
When it comes to testing where God is leading with Scripture, we need to ask ourselves, is this contradictory to what the Scriptures say?
The big mistake is when we use Scripture alone. When you read and apply Scriptures within the silo of you, you can make it say anything you want (i.e. the Crusades, local immigration enforcement). However, if you invite others into this process (remember step two), you have dramatically increased the intelligence in the room.
These three steps, never working alone but functioning as a unit, they are vital steps to help you make the best decisions when trying to live in the will of God.
Are there other steps? Let me know some of your principles in the comments below.