Voices of Faith offers perspectives from religion columnists. This week’s question: How do I know if my decision is what God wants?
Throw the dart
The Rev. Paul Rock, Second Presbyterian Church, Kansas City, Mo: When it comes to following the will of God for our life, we’d all like to hit the bull’s-eye. We want to launch our decisions as wisely as possible, hoping to hit that little red circle of God’s will.
It’s a compelling image. And if we’re honest, a bit terrifying.
Recently my wife and I traversed the vast, confusing college application process with our daughter. Talk about an intense decision! We encouraged her to apply broadly, and she was accepted into a number of good undergraduate programs. They were different, but all offered tremendous opportunities.
My wife and I shared our own college stories, did research, reminded her of her talents and passions (and deadlines), and helped ensure she made good choices. We love our daughter profoundly and want the best for her, but at the end of April she had to decide. She had to throw her dart.
Knowing God’s thoughts before we take a step is important, but more important is knowing that God is deeply in love with us and wants the best for us – the us God created us to be. When we start there, and remain in conversation with God and others, then we can trust that no matter what step we take or decision we make, even if it feels like a mistake, God will be with us.
Forget the bull’s-eye. Throw the dart. Then throw another.
Rely on biblical principals
The Rev. Jeff Palmer, Crossroads Christian Church: Oftentimes, true inner peace about a big decision in our lives can be elusive. But there are biblical principals we can incorporate into our decision-making process that will enable us to feel more at ease.
First, it is imperative that we appreciate God’s loves for us and that he always has the best plan in mind. We often refer to this as God’s will. Heeding to his will in our decision-making allows opportunities for God to interject his wisdom in the midst of our discernment. Jesus often submitted himself to God’s will, knowing that it might have meant accepting an outcome alternative to Jesus’ request.
Next we rely on Scripture to test the soundness of each choice. Due to the inerrancy of Scripture, we can be confident that any valid decision should not be contrary to biblical truth. Furthermore, studying and meditating on the Scriptures keeps us more in tune with God’s will for our lives, so the more we obey God’s word, the more consistent we become in making Godly decisions.
Subsequently, we pray and expect the Holy Spirit to give us a peace about the proper decision. Philippians 4:6 encourages us not to be anxious but to present our requests to the Lord through prayer. Of course, prayer incorporates listening as much as it does talking. If we expect God to speak, we must take time to listen!
Even after we have taken a biblical approach to decision-making, occasionally there is still no clear-cut solution. In those cases we pray for God to work through the decision for the most beneficial outcome. Regardless, it is important to pursue a Godly perspective before the decision is made rather than ask God to bless a final decision we have made without his input.