Recently, I visited with two young men who were trying to decide on a place of ministry. They both were considering opportunities that would change the trajectory of their lives. I shared with them the five tools I use in seeking to know God’s will. Whether you are starting in ministry or coming to the end of your ministry, the principles still apply in determining God’s will. Here are the tools:
- The foundational tool in finding God’s will is the Bible. Every Bible text has a primary interpretation and a practical application. Some Bible texts have a prophetic revelation. The following questions are important to ask to find the primary interpretation. Who is speaking? Who is the audience? What is the time frame? What is the occasion for the writing? What is the subject matter? Answering these questions correctly will give you the understanding of the historical context. Even the verses intended for ancient Israel or the early church have a practical application for us today. Not every text is to us, but every text is for us. God can speak from His Word directly into your current situation. Without allegorizing, you can find the answer you need. The psalmist said, “Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path” (Psalm 119:105).
- Living inside every believer is the Holy Spirit. He will guide the child of God in truth (John 16:13). Some might dismiss the inexplicable voice of the Spirit speaking to our hearts. The Holy Spirit will not reveal any new truth, but He will confirm revealed truth. The Spirit of God never leads a person to do something that is contrary to the Word of God. Confirm the Holy Spirit’s voice by the written Word of God. Listen to the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit.
- A third tool in finding God’s will is godly counsel (Proverbs 11:14). Seek out longstanding believers who have lived a consistently faithful life for Jesus. Let them speak into your life. Spiritually mature believers will have experienced life’s challenges and can help you avoid pitfalls. Too much counsel can be confusing. Two or three people who love Jesus and love you are enough. God uses people to help us know God’s will.
- Listening to God’s Word being preached or taught by a trusted source is another way God can reveal His will to you. When a speaker brings out something obviously personal, you can sense God using the words spoken to help you make your decision. Divine appointments are possible when we have a listening ear. Serendipitous encounters can produce confirmation of God’s will.
- Finally, circumstances play a part in finding God’s will. A person might think that he should be on the faculty at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, but circumstances might prohibit him from doing so. He does not have a terminal academic degree. He is not credentialed in the proper field of study. There are no teaching positions open. Any one of a hundred different roadblocks could be in the path regardless of how strongly someone feels he should be in the position. Open doors are opportunities that arise out of circumstances when we walk in the Spirit. This does not mean we are immune to conflict. Anytime we are doing God’s will, the Evil One will oppose us. Yet, God is able to work through circumstances and place you where you need to be.
There is no singular tool to finding God’s will when you are making major life decisions. Thankfully, we have several tools that enable us to seek out His perfect plan. Ultimately, we must be willing to do whatever God tells us. He will not reveal His will to us out of our curiosity. He wants us to know Him and to know His will (John 7:17). We must put our “yes” on the table. When our will is submitted to His will, He will show us the proper path.