It comes in the form of questions about relationships, careers, or ministry. It may be a request for advice, an opinion, or insight. Perhaps they are bold enough to ask you what they should do about decisions they face. It may even be an appeal for validation of choices they have made, or want to make. But it comes down to this: how can I know what God wants me to do? What is God’s plan for me? Am I doing the will of God?
Every preacher, elder, class teacher, parent, and friend will get asked this question. I have always tried to be careful how I answer because I do not want to come across as if I think I am God. But I have found three suggestions to be valuable in helping people decide what God’s will and/or plan is for someone. Here are the things I encourage people to do.
- Prayer. James said to ask God for wisdom. Gideon asked for a clear sign (and got three). So ask God for clear, concrete signs. Ask him for wisdom to make right decisions. I share the story of a time my wife and I were trying to decide what to do about accepting a ministry offer. We prayed about our finances and finally came up with a salary figure we thought was fair. We committed to God that the financial offer would be a sign to accept or decline the offer. We were offered just over the figure we had decided. We accepted the position. It was the right move. We believe it was a sign.
- Scripture. There is great practical advice in the Bible. I remind people that God’s plan and will do not contradict his word. So anything that goes against Scripture will not be God’s will and plan for your life. So when someone wants validation to get divorced and marry someone else because it is God’s will for them to be happy, I remind them that God’s word says he hates divorce. Not his will.
- Faith community. God has us in community for a reason. Listen to elders and their wives. Ask you closest Christian friends their opinion. I often tell university students that if all of their friends are telling them that the relationship they are in is toxic . . . then perhaps they should listen.
God will reveal his will and his plan for us. I rarely give answers, but I do give guidance by encouraging the use of prayer, the reading of Scripture, and the counsel of godly friends. These principles have helped me and I believe they have helped my flock and my family.
Hoping and praying they will be of help to those you are doing life with.
Steve loves to tell the story of Jesus. He is the Director of Ministry for Hope for Life, a Herald of Truth Ministry, and serves as an elder at the Southern Hills church of Christ in Abilene, TX. He is a popular speaker for Lectureships, seminars, and retreats, and his latest book is “Can I Tell You a Story?” He and his wife Marsha have two children and five grandchildren.