Life is full of decision-making, and if you are like me, you have struggled in your decision-making from time to time. Undoubtedly, when you’ve had a big decision to make you’ve asked the question, “What is God’s will?” When you have three job offers before you, you want to know, what job does God want me to take? When you’ve been accepted to three different graduate schools, you want to know, what school does God want me to go to? When you are praying about who you will marry, you want to know, who is “the one” that God wants you to marry? We’d like for God’s will to be like a Magic 8-Ball that we shake up and get an immediate answer, but more often than not, making major life-decisions can be a huge struggle.
When I was a student in seminary, a church asked me to come and serve as their pastor. I was already serving as a pastor of a small church, and the church I was pastoring was doing well. The church that asked me to come and serve as their pastor was larger and in a more desirable location, but the church had recently gone through a split and had a reputation of being pretty tough on pastors. In fact, a couple of pastors in the community told me that I would be foolish to leave my church and go to a church that was known for giving pastors a rough time. However, I interviewed with the pastor search team, and I felt like we connected well. I was drawn to the church, but at the same time, I was hesitant to go to this church because of everything I knew about their difficult past.
I wanted to know God’s will. Did he want me to go to this difficult church, or did He want me to stay at the church I was serving? The whole decision-making process was stressful. I wrestled in prayer, had sleepless nights, and I hoped that I would get some kind of sign from heaven that would point me in the right direction. However, I never got a sign, and I never heard a voice from God telling me what I needed to do.
To make a long story short, while the decision was difficult, I decided to go to the struggling church even though I didn’t get a sign from God, hear a voice from heaven, or was confident that I knew God’s will for my life in that season. However, looking back some years later, those four years that I spent at that church were some of the best years of ministry I have ever had, and I know that serving that church was exactly where I needed to be.
What I learned from struggling over that decision is that we make discovering God’s will far more complex than it should be. Simply put, God’s will is for you to live your life to glorify Him by surrendering your desires to His desires. I’m convinced that we get far too focused on the details and not near focused enough on the bigger picture. In other words, we’re far more interested in God helping us figure out the details like what school to attend or what job to take than we are about simply living daily lives that are centered on Christ.
There isn’t a magic formula for figuring out God’s will for your life. You simply read the Word, think the Word, and do the Word. And, if you read the Word, think the Word, and do the Word, you will find yourself in the center of God’s will every single time. Let me give you some practical steps you can take to make sure you are making decisions that are consistent with the will of God.
When you are facing a decision, start with God’s Word, not your feelings. Does the Bible address your particular circumstances in any way? How would God want you to respond to your circumstances based on what He has said in His Word? Are you trying to determine who to marry? Quit focusing on finding “the one” and see what God says about marriage and what kind of spouse you should be. Are you trying to determine where you should work? What does God say about work and vocation? I know the Bible doesn’t touch on every subject under the sun. For example, the Bible doesn’t have much to say about school or college, but it does have much to say about how God wants you to live regardless of what school you attend. The Bible doesn’t say much about what kind of house you should buy, but it does have much to say about being a good steward of the resources God has given you. The Bible may not speak to every situation you face, but the Bible does inform every situation you face because in every situation you have the responsibility to respond in a way that is consistent with what the Bible teaches.
Simple enough, right? Ask God to help you make wise decisions that are consistent with what the Bible teaches.
Seek godly counsel.
Proverbs 15:22 says, “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.” The keyword is godly. Talk to people who think biblically and pray fervently. I can’t tell you how helpful it has been in my life to have trusted counselors; men and women who saturate themselves in the Bible and prayer. The best counselors are those who will simply speak God’s Word into your life and help you apply God’s Word to your circumstances.
James tells us in James 1:5 to ask for wisdom and trust that God will give it to us. Wisdom is the ability to apply biblical knowledge to your present circumstances. You can only use godly wisdom if you know the Word. In your present circumstances, in light of what you know about Scripture and your current circumstances, what is the wisest course of action? If you have three companies that are offering you a job, what’s the wisest choice? What job best utilizes your abilities and skills? What job puts you in a position to make the most impact for the Kingdom of God? When you are counseling your children on who to marry, don’t ask them the question, “What does your heart say?” Who cares what their heart says. Rather, help your children to consider the character of the person they are marrying and make a wise choice based on what the Bible says about marriage. The same goes with any other decision. Be more concerned with making a wise choice than the right choice.
Make a decision and move on.
If you have thought biblically, prayed, sought godly counsel, used godly wisdom, and made a decision, there’s no need to second guess that decision. I never second guess if Staci is the woman I should have married because I married her. I know that she is the one for me because I made a covenant with her. So, when we don’t see eye to eye, or when marriage gets tough, I don’t wonder, “Did I miss God in this somehow?” No. I made a decision to marry Staci based on godly wisdom, prayer, biblical thinking, and wise counsel. I am convinced that I was in the center of God’s will when I chose to marry Staci. Once you make a decision based on godly wisdom, own it and move on with your life! Live knowing that you are in the center of God’s will.
Make every decision with the Gospel in mind.
As you seek to make decisions that are consistent with the will of God you cannot lose sight of the fact that you are on mission. When you make a decision, ask the question, “What implications does this decision have for the spread of the Gospel?” If you are trying to choose a school, is there a strong church close to that school that is going to equip you to become more effective in making Christ known? If you are buying a car, how will buying that $50,000 car strain your budget in such a way that you will not be able to give generously to Gospel-centered ministries? How will that job you are considering help you make disciples? Will that job put you around lost people that you can build Gospel-centered relationships with? Will that job take you away from your primary responsibility of making disciples of your children? Will that job take you away from your commitment to the local church where God has placed you to serve and use your spiritual giftedness to build up the body? What about that house you are considering? Will it put you in a neighborhood that is unreached? Or, can you use your home as a gathering place for believers for Bible study and prayer? How will your home be an asset for the ministry of the Gospel? We too often make decisions based on our selfish desires rather than how our decisions affect the work of the Kingdom. Our decisions need to be wise, but they also need to be strategic. When you make a life decision, are you considering how that decision will affect the mission that God has you on this earth for?
Decision-making can be challenging, but I am convinced that we make it harder than it needs to be. If you will strive to live wisely based on what Scripture reveals, you will find yourself living a life that is consistent with His will.