Discerning God's Will by Steve Douglass
Today I have a guest post from a very special person--my sweet husband. He wrote this article for his monthly Connection newsletter to our staff. He has gotten much positive feedback on it, so I wanted to share it with you.In the December Connection I mentioned an opportunity God gave me to help a Christian woman know God’s will for her life. Many have asked what I said. Here is the process I took her through:
WALK – Walk with God closely and continually.
- This helps assure we listen to God’s thoughts, not ours.
- This allows us to receive ongoing and progressive leading from God. God’s plans for us don’t usually become clear and complete all at once.
- This qualifies us to receive God’s opportunities and blessings (2 Chronicles 16:9).
ASK – Pray specifically for God to reveal His will.
We are promised in James 1:5 that if we ask for wisdom, God will give it to us generously. Years ago, God gave me a sense that I needed to become much more effective in doing evangelism. When I prayed that He would show me how, He brought me two tremendous learning opportunities. At the time, I was responsible for overall operations in CCC, so I might not have recognized the evangelistic opportunities as strategic if I had not prayed for and received a sense of God’s will and plan for me.
CONSIDER - Consider three factors: passions, strengths, and opportunities.
I have usually found I can see why God has a certain direction for me in light of these.
- Passion (What am I already motivated to do?)
- Strengths (Where do I have competencies which can be utilized well?)
- Opportunities (Which doors has God seemed to open for me at this time?)
God showed me how the plan to be more effective in evangelism represented a confluence of all three in my life.
- I had the passion to lead more people to Christ.
- God gave me a strength in teaching, which could help make coming to Christ clearer and more compelling.
- God led a group of students (at The International School of Theology) to invite me to the opportunity of teaching on personal development as a bridge to presenting the gospel.
Passion, strength and opportunity came together as a powerful confirmation of God’s plan for me to become more effective in evangelism.
PLAN FIRST STEPS
One barrier to pursuing God’s plan for us is that we tend to dream and wish, but often we don’t plan specifically and practically.My fairly consistent experience is that I must be proactive in order to pursue God’s plan. He directs my thoughts and desires, but I have to cooperate with plans and action. In addition, I must find practical ways to start – to take the first step or two. Determining long-term direction is very important. Yet a crystal-clear vision often unfolds over time.
START THEN EVALUATE
The likelihood of making good long-term progress is usually directly proportional to how soon we take the first steps. If we start putting them off, we will find ways to continue doing so. I wonder how many New Year’s resolutions succumb to procrastination.After starting, I evaluate my progress and ask God for more refinement on what I initially sensed He said.
HOW DID I LEAD THE WOMAN ON THE PLANE THROUGH THIS PROCESS?
First, we discussed how to convert her “occasional visit with God” prayer life into a constant conversation.Second, we prayed God would give her a clear picture of His plan.Third, we sought to discern her core motivation. Then we explored her strengths. Finally, we listed and prioritized the opportunities God had already given her. Although it took some thinking, we quickly saw how God had equipped her to pursue what He had put on her heart.Fourth, we got very specific in planning things she could do the next week to get started.Last, I asked her to commit to me that she would do something on this the next day. I also encouraged her to evaluate and adjust over time.I hope this process is useful to you in helping people know what God wants them to do.What about you? How do you seek to discern God's will? What in this article might be especially helpful?c2012 Judy Douglass