Your Calling and God's Will
There are times I can remember in life where I’ve put intense pressure on myself to know God’s will for my life. One of those instances was trying to discern whether I was called to ministry. I spent a lot of time listening to sermons on calling, praying, and talking to other people who were called to ministry. Trying to figure it out felt a little stressful if I’m honest.
The most stressful decision I can remember having to make was after college. I had applied to be a Journeyman with the IMB and had also applied to seminary. The Journeyman program was delayed when I initially applied, which led me to applying to seminary. I was working a job I hated and was looking to take a next step toward what I believed God had for my future.
I ended up getting accepted to both on the same day and I had no idea what to do. Both seemed like good, holy options, but I was convinced that God had a certain one planned for me and I had to figure it out. I wish I knew what I’m about to share with you because at one point I closed the door to the office I was working in and sat on the floor crying because I could not discern what God’s will was for me. I did not want to make the wrong choice for my life and I definitely wanted to follow God’s plan.
Finding God’s Will
I think that’s the case for every true follower of Jesus. We want to know God’s will. We want to follow His plan. We want things to go well for us. We want favor and want to operate in the best possible circumstances. Maybe that’s why trying to discern a calling and following God’s will can really stress us out. We certainly don’t want to screw up our lives.
So how do we figure this out? This may disappoint you because it’s so simple. We read our Bibles, pray, and make a decision. We don’t have to worry, stress, or fret. God has made His will known in His Word. It is the primary way He speaks to us today. If what we decide to do doesn’t go against anything God has commanded for us as Christians then we are free to do that thing. We certainly want to pray about it and seek wisdom from others as well, but we really can feel free to make a decision.
When I was trying to choose between missions and seminary, I stressed a lot about nothing. Looking back, I could have easily done either and it would have been fine. I could have saved a lot of time and energy by just choosing the one I thought was best for the next step in my life (which is what I ended up doing anyway).
I think we can really worry about this when it comes to major choices such as college, career, marriage, kids, moving, etc. Questions you can start with are, “What passions did God place in me?” and “How can I use those for His glory?” A very important question is, “Does this decision have any implications that will cause me to disobey what God commands?” If all of those things line up then you can feel free to make that decision.
There’s also wise counsel to be sought with all of these questions. God can speak to us by using other believers who love us to speak into our lives and decisions. Even being called into vocational ministry can have a lot of these questions attached. Usually others will see something in you and will affirm what they see. Also there can be a sense of aspiration for the position. Paul makes this clear when he says, “The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task” (1 Timothy 3:1). Certainly, when it comes to ministry, one may have that sense of “not being happy doing anything else,” but having a desire to be in ministry should be a consideration as well.
I think it is fair to give a little weight to feelings or impressions, but I don’t think we should give them the same weight we give to Scripture and wise counsel of others. God may impress upon us to do something, but our hearts can be deceitful. We should test that impression with Scripture and seek the wise counsel of our pastors and other mature believers.
God wants you to serve Him, glorify Him, and treasure Him. Jesus made it as simple—and complex—as “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Believe it or not, God has given you a lot of freedom in how you choose to do those two things.
If this is a topic you’re interested in, let me recommend Just Do Something by Kevin DeYoung, which you can pick up on Amazon.