Of the 20 or so times that the phrase “the will of God” appears in the NT not one of them is in context to ones occupation, job, ministry assignment, geographic locale or spouse. Take a look at some of these:
For this is the will of God, your sanctification (holiness)…(1 Thess. 4:3)
For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men— (1 Pt. 2:15)
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Rom. 12:2)
Nearly all of them have to do with an inner change occurring. Maybe the Lord did this on purpose. Maybe His written Word, that reveals His will, wasn’t meant to be an answer key for every one of life’s decisions. That might essentially undermine the central nature for which we exist. Clearly, there are some directives that are given to us by the Spirit, however, as it pertains to our search for the will of God you won’t find an explicit answer of the oft asked questions above. The will of God for our lives isn’t a role or title it’s a person – Christ. God wants us to search and seek for Him. This is the ultimate will of God for our lives – that we would know Him, deeply (see Jn. 17:3). If we don’t know Him does it really ‘t matter if we’re an engineer, school teacher, pastor, mailman or sandwich artist?
Presupposing that the Father is after relationship (as revealed even in His name), we can be assured that He won’t give a quick answer to every single question we have. Seeking a one-word answer takes the relational process out of the equation. Think of how frustrating it is to relate to a close friend who only offers one-word responses! The lack of clarity related to our questions means that we have to keep coming back to the Lord and talking with Him. That’s one thing we often forget: He loves and wants the process as much as anything. So much happens to the heart in the process.
Here are some reasons people attempt to hear the will of God for their occupation:
- They do not know who they are in Christ. Their identity is formed by a secular ideology rather than the truth of God’s Word. This ideology can pressure people into defining their success by a title, position, or salary.
- They are afraid of missing God and being displeasing to Him. There are several issues with this. Undoubtedly it’s done in good intention; yet many things done in good intention end up wildly incorrect. Firstly, this puts an enormous amount of stock in their ability to discern the voice of the Lord in the first place. Why are they assuming that they’re suddenly able to hear the voice of God with clarity and distinction when they haven’t cultivated this type of relationship with Him prior to this moment? It also assumes that God is waiting to reveal His displeasure over our life. This is a broken and harmful view of God. It is simply not one that is in accordance with scripture. The fear of disappointing God can be a powerful deterrent of relationship. As children of God they must have their view of Him reconstructed, from one of fear to trust.
- They are bored and wanting God to motivate them. This may be more one of the more common reasons. People are passionless, or often passionate for the wrong things. The motivating dreams of success and productivity are fueled by the truer passions for pleasure and comfort. Rarely are we thinking in terms of success related to internal character, family, marriage, or relationships. Most think materialistically. Success therefore equates to materialistic gain. That becomes a driving motivation. Now we try to add God into the equation, “What do you want me to do?” We cross our arms and wait impatiently for a thunderous voice to command us what to do. Are we naive enough to think that the Lord is going to fancy our misguided delights disconnected from genuine relationship with Him?
Settle the fact that we’re not that great at hearing the Lord and He is really good at leading us in spite of that fact. What if we trained our children and the next generation to value what the scripture actually highlights pertaining to the will of God? A people who value renewing their mind according the Word; a people who do good putting to silence the foolish ways of the world; a people who prioritize being changed into Christ-likeness? Whether my kids are librarians, histories or soldiers I want them to have a deep life in Christ. This is my will for them.
Here’s another article I wrote for students trying to figure out the next step after high-school.