To a lot of people, finding God’s will in life is akin to playing the game of ‘Where’s Waldo’. It has a picture with a lot of detail, and somewhere in that picture one can find a small smiling person named Waldo. “Where’s Waldo” was one of my children’s favorite games, although it caused considerable challenge to them when Waldo hid particularly well. And, here’s the thing about that game. When you have found Waldo, it seems so obvious that it is hard to believe that anyone couldn’t find Waldo. That’s the way it often seems with finding God’s will.
If one is in the helping professions, especially the ministry, it is not uncommon to have someone ask a version of the question, “How can I know God’s will for my life and vocation?” The implication, many times, is that God is hiding His will or playing a cosmic game of Blind Man’s Bluff with us. So if we miss it, a series of disasters and catastrophic misses might result in marrying the wrong person, buying the wrong house, having the wrong kids, taking the wrong job…the list goes on and on. In the end, we will wind up a horrible failure and live in misery and squalor until we die a pitiful, unnoticed death.
Well, there is GOOD NEWS on a couple to levels.
The first is this:
You don’t have to wonder about God’s Will for your life. You see, God is more interested that you find His will than even you are. In a very real sense, God’s will for you is the same as He wills for everyone else. God’s will is for you to be saved. He has made every provision for that salvation Himself. He has given you everything you need in Jesus’ perfect life, death, and resurrection. You don’t need to do ANYthing to please Him, or find Him, or to discern His will. God’s Holy Spirit calls you to trust Christ and receive new life in Him. He went so far as to give His only Son so you can be saved. Your part is to cooperate with God’s grace, which has been extended to you.
The next thing is this:
He has placed you in various stations in life and called you to serve the people around you, your neighbors. He has gifted you in certain ways, so that you may serve your neighbor. The beautiful thing in all that is this—God reveals Himself in your vocation, so that all the service you render to your neighbor, is sacred. In reality, your service is GOD at work through you, whether in your career or in your vocation.
When I refer to ‘career’ I mean the idea of a job, where you work to make money, get promotions, become an expert, etc. There’s nothing wrong with having a career- maybe even a few careers. For example, you could say I was a ‘career pastor’ for twenty-eight years.
When we talk about God’s will, I really think that we are speaking about something more important, called a ‘vocation’. A vocation may, or may not, include getting a paycheck and going to a workplace. A vocation is a calling that can span over many careers. For example, I am called to teach. I did this as a youth pastor, a church-planter, a lead pastor, a chaplain and college instructor. All of these mini-careers are just the platform that I used to live out my calling. My career was how I lived out my vocation.
It can take time to find your calling/vocation and you need not pressure yourself to assume what it is too quickly. With that in mind, I offer a few things to consider:
- Commit to excellence, in your present situation. Start with what you have to do right now. Do those things well- like you are doing them for the Lord.
- Pray for God to reveal His will for your life. Ask God to help you be aware of the gifts He has placed in you, and to recognize opportunities to use them. Reject the fear of not having done something before. Jump in with both feet and ask God to help you. If you don’t, you might be too distracted in the chaos around you to notice His will. You don’t want to waste your life, chasing your own ideas and dreams, only to find out they aren’t what your heart really wanted anyway. If you pray for God to reveal his will for you, then He will.
- Experiment with different types of service. Take every opportunity to use the gifts He has given you, and develop them to a high level of excellence and expertise. Any gift can be developed and polished to a maximum effectiveness, so make sure you keep growing. Try out a variety of opportunities for service, and see what draws out your gifts, what gives you joy, and what people respond to best. Note the word ‘service’. Career is about achieving, competing, advancing, and can be entirely selfish. Vocation focuses on serving God, the others, and the world. Vocation ultimately makes for a far more satisfying life.
“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” (Matthew 22:37-39, ESV).
Author: Dr. Jim Dorough, GPS Chaplain