In my house we don’t always fall into stereotypical roles. For instance, my wife hates to ask for directions. Even from Siri. I don’t hesitate to ask for directions. In fact, I enjoy asking for directions. I’ll roll down my window in traffic, ask the gas station store clerk, or talk up the guy pumping gas next to me about the best way to get where I’m going. Usually I just ask my wife though and she’ll tell me the way. She’s not nearly as lost as I am most of the time.
In my ministry life I will often get people asking me for directions. Relationally, vocationally, emotionally, and spiritually people can feel stuck. Sometimes folks ask for a meeting. Sometimes folks roll down a window in traffic. Sometimes it’s at the gas pump. They just want a little help; some perspective or angle that I may have a vantage point on.
I received one such text message yesterday from someone I hadn’t seen in a few years. They were stuck. It had to do with calling and vocation. I called them and it went something like this: “I’ve been studying and training to do this certain thing. But some people are questioning whether I should be studying and training for this certain thing. I want to do God’s will and I thought this was it but I’m not sure anymore. I don’t know which way to go. What do you think?”
I find myself coming back to the same basic answer when people ask me for directions. This same answer applies in most circumstances simply because rarely do I have the kind of specific insight they are seeking. There are times when I sense a “word from the Lord” for someone but those times are rare.
These are the directions I give:
- Check your heart. Are you open to being led by the Lord or are you dead-set on something and are looking for someone to tell you that it’s ok? Sometimes our “hearts” are led to things that are not of the Lord. I don’t trust your heart. You shouldn’t either. My heart told me to eat that third donut that was suffering in the box all alone this morning. Bad heart. Repent.
- Wait on the Lord. If you are not sure whether to do something or not, stay put. God delights when we seek His will above our own and God will make his will known. Trust that he has a plan for this and wait on it to be revealed. Godly discernment always precedes godly decisions. Wait. Listen. Obey.
- Seek the saints. I don’t care what your mama says about it. Who are the godly, wise people who speak truth to you? What are they saying? If you are not in committed, accountable, Christian community then you cannot discern God’s voice.
- Read the word. God speaks through his word! Are you listening to God in the scriptures? Don’t wait on a Post-It note from the Almighty, read the word he has already spoken. And when you think he’s speaking, seek the saints to confirm it!
- Take a knee. Pray for God’s will to be done in your life. Combine fasting with prayer. Invite others to pray for you and with you. Jesus taught us to pray, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” If Jesus told us to pray for God’s will to be done it would stand to reason that God would then reveal his will to those who know and love him. Remember, seek God’s will, don’t just spend time asking God to bless yours.
Do these things and you will be following the Spirit, not your heart. One will show you the way the other will lead you astray. Every time.