As a pastor, I am often presented with tough questions, and the truth is that some questions don’t have easy answers. Life is complicated, and as such, decision-making can seem challenging. That was the basis for the following question I just received from someone enduring a difficult season: “When making decisions, how can we have 100% certainty that we are doing what God wants us to do?”
If it is not related to matters directly outlined in Scripture, the answer to the question is no – even though that is likely not what we want to hear. With decisions like who to marry, what job to pursue, or what school to attend, the Bible does not provide explicit instructions for every scenario and every person.
Why? If everything was spelled out, there would be no faith involved.
That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t turn to Scripture for insight. In some instances, there are very clear guidelines to frame our decisions. If it is a moral issue outlined in Scripture or a Biblical command, we can be 100% certain what God’s will is.
But in areas that are not specifically addressed in God’s Word, seeking Him takes us through an important process that deepens our faith and helps us learn to hear God’s voice. As much as we want to get everything “right,” God’s bigger agenda is that we learn to trust Him and know Him in situations that have no clear right or wrong. It’s a wisdom issue: “What is wisest?”
The process begins by being 100% willing to do whatever God shows you. We do not seek to align His will with ours. We commit to align our will with His.
Next, take time to ask yourself important questions. What are your gifts, strengths, and desires? What is the counsel of the wise and godly people in your life who know you well? What season are you in and how will your relationships (spouse, children, etc.) be impacted by your decision? What sacrifices are you willing to make, i.e. are you willing to relocate, not own a second home, or be downwardly mobile if required?
For most of us, there are assumptions we make when considering a decision, and we need to take time to identify and surrender those influences. For instance, I’ve had people tell me they’re stuck and have no direction on a job from God, but they pre-determined they can only live in a certain area of the country or make a certain income. Are you willing to let go of those parameters and open yourself to whatever God asks?
Thankfully, the Holy Spirit is committed to giving you direction. Psalm 32:8 (NASB) says, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.” Go to God’s Word, asking Him for clarity from Scripture. Spend time in prayer, talking with Him regularly and responding to what He is showing you.
Remember that faith always involves risk and levels of uncertainty. As you grow, you’ll learn how to better discern God’s voice and act on it by making the decision that you believe best honors God. And be encouraged that His will is not a tightrope in which one false step gets you into trouble. It’s a highway, and He is your Father who has your best in mind.
So if you’re feeling the weight of fear and uncertainty of decisions in your life today, trust that the process is His design to lead, develop and conform you to the image of Christ.
To find out more about making decisions that impact God’s kingdom, check out our series, Doing Good.
Founder & Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram is the CEO and teaching pastor of Living on the Edge, an international teaching and discipleship ministry. A pastor for over thirty years, Chip has a unique ability to communicate truth and challenge people to live out their faith. He is the author of many books, including The Real God, Culture Shock and The Real Heaven. Chip and his wife, Theresa, have four grown children and twelve grandchildren and live in California.More Articles by Chip