Iain Hesketh (pictured, inset, above) shares the first two of four principles he uses when helping people discern what God might be asking them.
If you have ever been involved in helping others grow in their walk with Jesus you will no doubt have come up against the struggle of that person grappling with the question: “What is God’s will for my life?”
Each of us who has set our hearts to follow Jesus want to walk obediently in his ways and do what he has purposed for us to do. But how do we discern what he is asking?
I have four principles I seek to live by and use when helping others discern what God might be asking of them. I’ll outline two in this article, and cover two more next month.
One word of caution before we move on: following Jesus is not always a continuous state of adventure. Most often it is simply about being faithful in the place where you have been planted. But how do you discern whether you are being called to stay where you are or go to the nations?
1. Remember your primary call
Many of us carry desires to do great things for God, and many a missionary has set off with the best of intentions to be used by God as an agent of transformation. But remember, God doesn’t use us as some kind of a means to an end. We are image-bearers of God, and he beckons us to partner with him in his work.
There is only one hero – Jesus. Everyone else gets to follow his lead. Our primary call is to follow Jesus, whole-heartedly, with full devotion and conviction, in obedience to his way and in community with others.
When Jesus called the apostles, he set about training them for the mission they, and the church, would continue until his return. Jesus spent three years developing their inner life, teaching them how to pray and equipping them to live in the Kingdom of God. Everything else flowed out of this reality.
If you want to know God’s will for you, it is to follow him and embrace a life of inner transformation that will enable you to bear fruit that will last (see John 15 1:1-11). If you are going to be a disciple-maker in the nations, you first must be a disciple.
2. Embrace testing
Jesus shows us what it means to live a life of surrender – from the temptations he faced in the desert to the distress he endured in the garden, Jesus determined to do the will of his Father in heaven rather than choose the path of least resistance.
We are prone to see testing as a sign that we are not in God’s will, but this is to misunderstand testing. Testing isn’t punishment or a sign that you are off course; testing is an opportunity to remain faithful to God while strengthening your ability to endure to the end.
In the journey of discovering God’s will for us in his mission, we must first completely surrender our will to his. Surrender is the gateway to true life, and in surrender we can hear his voice more clearly.
Testing is a great exposer of our motives. If you are going to go to the nations, whose kingdom are you seeking to build? Would you be happy to be unknown?