(The following articles deals explicitly with applying Biblical truths to career decision-making. If you are uninterested in this subject, please click to another article.)
How can we discern God’s will for our lives? Before we can even think about that question, we probably should ask ourselves, “Does God only care about the big picture, or is He also concerned with our personal paths?”
The Lord is concerned with our daily activities.
- You number my wanderings; put my tears into Your bottle; are they not in Your book? (Psalm 56:8)
- O Lord You have searched me and known me, You know my sitting down and my rising up… (Psalm 139:1-2)
The Lord is not interested in ritual or religion (Hsa 6:6). Instead, He seeks a personal relationship with each one of us. In any living relationship there is no single formula for discerning each other’s desires on a moment-by-moment basis. For example, speaking with a spouse once-a-week would make it very difficult to discern each others desires, goals or plans. Even speaking to a spouse once-a-day would likely be inadequate communication to foster a healthy marriage relationship. Likewise, a strong, intimate relationship with the Lord requires constant communication – even more communication than a marriage would require.
How does the Lord communicate with us?
Through His Word, the Bible.
- Your Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path (Psalm 119:105)
Through the Holy Spirit
- Cause me to hear Your lovingkindness in the morning, for in You do I trust; cause me to know the way in which I should walk, for I lift up my soul to you. Deliver me, oh Lord, from mine enemies; in You I take shelter. Teach me to do your will, for You are my God; Your Spirit is good. Lead me in the land of uprightness. (Ps. 143:8-10)
- …and Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it; and Hezekiah went up to the house of the Lord, and spread it before the Lord. Then Hezekiah prayed before the Lord…Then Isaiah the son of Amos sent to Hezekiah, saying, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel: because you have prayed to Me against Sennacherib, king of Assyria, I have heard. (2 Kings 19:14-20)
Through people: parents, partners, family, friends, pastors and elders, sometimes even non-believers (we must test the source)
- Without counsel, plans go awry, but in the multitude of counselors they are established. (Prov. 15:22)
Inner peace, or lack of peace
- For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. (Rom. 8:6)
Circumstance (we must be careful not to read too much into these. Remember that the Lord is unchanging and never contradicts Himself. Examine circumstances through the light of His Word.)
- Paul recognizes that in God’s sovereignty, He opens or closes doors of opportunity. “For I do not wish to see you now on the way; but I hope to stay a while with you, if the Lord permits. But I will tarry in Ephesus until Pentacost. For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.” (1 Cor. 16:7-8)
- David’s men misunderstand the following circumstance, believing that the Lord intended David to take Saul’s life: Then the men of David said to him, “This is the day of which the Lord said to you, “Behold, I will deliver your enemy into your hand, that you may do to him as it seems good to you.” And David arose and secretly cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. Now it happened afterward that David’s heart troubled him because he had cut Saul’s robe. (1 Sam. 24:4-5)
Signs and Wonders (Again, we must be very careful not to read too much into these)
- Then the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, “What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?” (Num. 22:28)
How do we make this practical? “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your path.” (Prov. 3:5-6)
Through prayer, be in dialogue with the Lord about ALL things. Pray throughout the day.
- Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:6-7)
Acknowledge God’s ultimate sovereignty.
- Commit your works to the Lord, and your thoughts will be established. (Prov. 16:3)
Pray for wisdom and discernment from the Lord.
- If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. (Jam. 1:5)
- Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes, and I shall keep it to the end. Give me understanding, and I shall keep Your law; indeed, I shall observe it with my whole heart. (Ps. 119:33-34)
Be in motion. Be knowledgeable and planful – plans are necessary to reach goals. Prayerfully establish reasonable, attainable goals. Write down your goals.
- The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty, but those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty. (Prov. 21:5)
Gather and research information about various fields and occupations. Set up appointments to speak with people in a field that interests you. Develop a list of organizations for whom you would be interested in working; lay all of your findings out before the Lord. Consider a job shadow, or an internship.
- It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way. (Prov. 19:2)
- For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it… or what king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? (Luke 14:28, 31)
If you are applying for some specific positions, prepare a tailored résumé for each position. The résumé consists of numerous statements describing your accomplishments in various settings. Avoid glorying in these accomplishments; rather, give glory to the Lord for all He has allowed you to accomplish. The contents of the résumé provide you with an excellent opportunity to reflect on the many blessings and gifts the Lord has showered upon you.
- Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. (James 1:17)
- And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. (Colossians 3:17)
Ask others to pray with you before making a decision. Continue to pray after making a decision.
- “Go, gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise. And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!” (Esther 4:16)
Have an attitude of gratitude.
- In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thess 5:18)
Recognize that the Lord sometimes places us in situations that make no sense to us. Continue to trust in Him, and understand that sometimes the situation may have very little to do with us.
- On more than one occasion, Joseph, the eleventh son of Jacob, found himself in situations that probably did not make much sense. He was sold into slavery by his brothers, and later sent to prison for a crime that he did not commit. Joseph recognizes that these situations, though difficult, were not really about him. “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.” (Gen 50:20)
- And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose. (Rom 8:28)
Be sensitive to God’s timing; His timing is always perfect.
- “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Is 55:8-9)