I’ve heard the question a thousand times: How do I know what God wants me to do? I’ve asked it myself. Have you ever struggled to hear God’s voice when faced with a life-changing decision? I’ve been there. You want to follow God — But, what do you do when God’s voice isn’t clear?
Security vs. Risk
My undergraduate degree is in Mechanical Engineering. I discovered my true calling (to be a pastor) three years after college. It wasn’t easy to leave something I had worked and studied so hard to achieve. If I’m honest, my life and career have been a wrestling match between my need for security and God’s call to risk everything.
Helen Mirren said, “You write your life story by the choices you make. You never know if they have been a mistake. Those moments of decision are so difficult.” Amen. We have all faced life-altering decisions and stood frozen, deathly afraid of making the wrong choice.
Five Things to Do When Facing Tough Decisions
Here are five things I’ve learned from Jesus about what to do in the face of a major decision, even when I didn’t feel like I could clearly hear God.
1. Get Away and Get Alone with God
Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself” (John 6:15).
This was a constant for Jesus. He seemed to get alone with God at every major transition point in his life.
Set aside sixty minutes of uninterrupted time with God. Spend the first ten minutes reading through some encouraging Psalms. Clear your mind of everything except Jesus. Then ask God to speak to you. Tell God that you are going to assume that anything that comes to your mind for the next forty minutes will be from him. Meditate on whatever he gives you. Be faithful to listen.
2. Get with Trusted Friends
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” (Mt. 16:13).
Jesus was being chased and harassed by his enemies. He wanted to check in with his friends. He asked them questions. He wanted to know what they thought. He wanted to be sure they were all on the same page and headed in the right direction.
This seems to be the opposite of the first suggestion, but it’s actually the other side of the same coin. God will sometimes speak to you directly – other times, he will speak through trusted Christian friends.
Proverbs 27:9 says, “Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice.”
Talk to your friends honestly. Pour your heart out to them. Ask them to pray for you. Listen to what God is saying through them.
3. Get into the Word of God
He replied, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it’” (Luke 11:28).
God speaks to us through the power of his Word (Heb. 4:12). He has promised us that his Holy Spirit will guide us when we stay connected to him (John 15:5; 16:13).
The Bible says that “the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Heb. 4:12). Invite his Word to shape your life decisions.
One thing is for sure – God never wants you to go in a direction that is in violation of the Bible – his Word for you. The only way for you to know the right way is for you to read it.
4. Get Fired Up About Yourself
Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father” (John 14:12).
Jesus promised his disciples that they were of ultimate value to God. Jesus loved us so much that he was willing to die for us (Rom. 5:8).
Jesus promised us that we would do even greater things than what he had done. We must not allow our fears and insecurities to inform our decisions.
Whatever gets you fired up about being you – spend time doing it. Read an inspirational book. Watch a video that inspires you. Draw inspiration from others who have overcome. Listen to music that inspires you. Whatever it takes to fire up your self-confidence – do it.
I get in my car and drive as fast as the law allows down the freeway, blasting “We are the Champions,” by Queen. Like I said — whatever it takes.
You don’t have to make fear-based decisions. You are more than a conqueror! (Rom. 8:37). Make decisions like the conqueror you are in Christ!
5. Get Busy Where You Are
His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’” (Matt. 25:21).
Jesus told a parable about the importance of being faithful where you are.
Sometimes we can desire change because we are tired of where we are. We may feel like we are failing in our current place and long to get away from our failure. These are decisions based on a desire to escape.
You should be very careful about making a decision out of an escape mentality. More often than not, when you are feeling the desire to escape, it is a sign that God wants you to push through those feelings. On the other side of the desire to escape is a great reward.
Be sure that you are working as hard as you can where you currently find yourself. Be sure that your desire to be somewhere else is not a desire to escape.
I hope these Jesus principles help you the next time you have to make a major, life-altering decision!