As a Christian leader, you have undoubtedly been asked this question: “How can I discern the will of God for my life?” How do you respond?
Certainly, the Lord has promised to provide personal guidance. He declared through the psalmist David, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye” (Ps. 32:8).* And again, through the prophet Jeremiah, “ ‘Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know’ ” (Jer. 33:3).
The promise of divine guidance is sure, but how does it happen? Through the ages, God has spoken directly to the hearts and minds of individuals. The prophet Isaiah promised, “Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk it,’ whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left” (Isa. 30:21).
But again one might ask, “How do I know if this is the voice of the Lord or just my own imaginings?” After all, there is a way that seems right, but the end of it is the way of death (Prov. 14:12). We must always test the convictions of our conscience by the revealed Word of God. If you are sincerely seeking to discern the will of God, the Holy Spirit will bring an appropriate Word of God to your remembrance. His Word confirms the convictions of your conscience (John 14:26).
Sometimes when we ask for a sign, the Holy Spirit simply points us back to the Word that has already been revealed. I met Wilbur in Nairobi, Kenya. He had been invited to participate in evangelistic meetings. Timid and apprehensive, Wilbur asked God for a sign regarding His will in this matter. The conviction that came to him was immediate and startling: “Why are you requesting a sign? I have asked you to go into all the world, and I will be with you!” The answer was so clear. All Wilbur could say was “Thank You, Lord.”
The Lord also reveals His will to us through the counsel of godly associates. When seeking to discern the will of God for your life, always remember this: “In the multitude of counselors there is safety” (Prov. 11:14). The wise man, Solomon, also offered this admonition: “Listen to counsel and receive instruction, that you may be wise in your latter days” (Prov. 19:20). Find people who love God and love you, and listen to their counsel.
What if you take a course of action only to discover that you were mistaken? What if it becomes abundantly clear that this is not the will of God for your life? Answer: you can change course. The apostle Paul and his associates attempted to travel to Bithynia (Acts 16:7), but there were roadblocks at every turn. The Spirit did not permit them to proceed. Rather a supernatural revelation was given to Paul to head west to Macedonia. And how did he respond? He changed course, “concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them” (Acts 16:10).
Some weeks ago it was necessary to put these concepts to the test. I was invited to assume the responsibilities as the president of Hope Channel, Inc., the global Christian television network of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. I followed the guidelines spelled out in this editorial, and God’s direction was unmistakably clear. As a result, this is my final editorial as editor of Ministry. I leave with a mixture of sadness and a calm assurance of God’s leading each step of the way.
Is it possible to discern the will of God for our lives? Yes. Pray for a hearing heart, test your conclusions by the Word of God, and listen to counsel from those who love God and love you. Then you can testify to others with firsthand language about God’s desire to direct their steps.
* All Scripture is quoted from the New King James Version of the Bible.