Two things you should know about my dad. First, he always wakes up at 5AM. Second, he doesn't drink coffee. Let's focus on #1, because not drinking coffee makes him weird and unrelatable. From my earliest memories, he has a spot in the house where he sits every morning with his Bible for unhurried quiet time. My dad has learned through experience that God speaks when you exhibit a discipline of listening.
Stop and think with me for a moment. What’s the point of your life? What’s your purpose? When you're alone, can you honestly say you're doing God's will? I have eight ideas when it comes to finding God's will for your life. Maybe this list isn't exhaustive. But, if you aren't doing at least these things, odds are you probably don't know God's will. Is this just crazy talk? Let's find out.
You are on this earth for a purpose. Your work as a godly husband, dad and leader is a big part of it. How can you REALLY know God's will for your life? You can know God's will through these eight ways:
1. Through His Word
This implies learning God’s Word. The Bible has a lot more to say about our lives than we tend to think. Here's my audacious claim. You CAN know God and His will. But there's the caveat, God does NOT speak anything contrary to His Word. Knowing God and His will for your life go hand in hand with knowing His Word. God's Word brings numbers 2-8 into subjection.
2. Through prayer
James 1:5 says, "Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him." I talked a lot about prayer recently in my post The 3 P's of Leadership. Prayer is vital. You should pray as the Scriptures tell you.
3. Through wise counsel
Wisdom is found in seeking wise counsel. Proverbs 12:15, "A fool’s way is right in his own eyes, but whoever listens to counsel is wise." Seek out the counsel of wise friends, family and mentors. To be clear, seeking wise counsel is not the same as getting with your guy friends who agree with you and complaining. Kent wrote Wise Guys to help you with this. Get it. This is why we wrote the Field Guides for dads.
4. Through understanding your gifts
Let's be careful. I'm NOT talking about the term we float around called "finding yourself" here. There is not some romantic trip to Paris where you "find yourself" between the ages of 25 and 45. Nope. God speaks through the trees in the Appalachian Mountains—specifically in Tennessee—all godly people know this. Higher elevations, duh.
Serioulsy, I'm sure Paris is awesome. I love espresso and pastries more than you. But, what I'm talking about here is—with the backdrop of numbers 1 through 3—consider your skills, gifts and passions. What decision do they point you to? Personality assessments, strengths evaluations, spiritual gifts tests—take them all. What did they tell you about yourself?
Your child may already recognize what he likes to do. Great, you have the privilege of shaping him and helping him figure out what he will eventually do. At the same time, you must be careful your goal isn't to turn him into a replica of yourself or something you wish you would have become. Your son might be a talented writer and have a gift of mercy. There's probably a church family who could use a caring letter. To be clear, I just told you God's will for your child. You're welcome.
5. Through considering all the options
When your stuck, it's often helpful to make a pro and con list to recognize all the possibilities. Then, write down your plan and create a process for reviewing, tweaking and reminding yourself.
Over the years, I've found what Rick Warren says helpful. Warren has a formula in The Purpose Driven Life:
- Worship > What is the CENTER of your life?
- Discipleship > What will be the CHARACTER of your life?
- Service > What will be the CONTRIBUTION of your life? Knowing your SHAPE (spiritual gifts, heart, abilities, personality, and experiences) what's your best role in serving the church? Is there a specific group you are shaped to serve?
- Mission > What will be the COMMUNICATION of your life? Write your personal mission statement and include your commitment to share your story authentically with others.
- Fellowship > What will be the COMMUNITY of your life? How will you demonstrate your commitment to other believers & your connection to the church. Where will you practice church?
6. Through His peace
God will give you a sense of peace when you’re on the right road. There's comfort that comes—when you're doing what you should be doing—especially when it's difficult. Even when you don't have clarity about the next step, I'm reminded of what Henry Blackaby says in Experiencing God. What was the last thing God told you that you haven't done? Do that. Essentially, do the thing you know to do that's right—right now. Baby steps. But baby steps are all about number 7.
7. Through action
Baseball great Yogi Berra once said, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it!” Some people get stuck when they face a big decision. Don’t be passive. Biblical fatherhood does not live in fear but by faith. Matthew 6:34 says, "Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself." A pastor this weekend said, “God directs moving ships.” Don't mistake inaction for holiness. In my life, I've often found comfort is often the antithesis of God's will.
8. Through trust and sticktoittiveness
Once you’ve done the previous seven things, trust God and the decision you’ve made. You can live either by default or design, in reactive or proactive mode. With most people, life happens to them. God wants us as godly men to throw our lives into something that makes a difference in the world around us. I can tell you, if you're reading this as a husband and father, God is calling you to intentionally disciple your family.
Sometimes people talk about being “called” by God to do something, as if God speaks in an audible, booming voice telling us exactly what He wants us to be or do. But I've rarely noticed God speak that way. Instead, God puts us in a particular time and place and simply wants us to serve Him wherever we are. Even if it means waking up at 5AM every morning like my dad. Over time, you'll notice God's still, small voice. Especially if you're sipping coffee.
Homework for dad
Spend time with your child at your workplace. Show him where you work and what you do. Then, take him to lunch and talk about:
- How did you decide to go into the career you now have?
- What other choices did you have? How did you make those choices?
- How does the career you are in utilize your talents, skills, spiritual gifts?
Find this post helpful? Most of this post comes from our Working Well Guides that explore God’s design for careers, responsibility and productivity. Learn more about leading your son through the Working Well 1 on 1 Guide and leading a group through Working Well Group Guide.
Here’s a snapshot of what's covered in these guides:
- Seeing work through God’s eyes
- Working to develop character
- Satisfying work
- Working to serve God and others
- Resisting Satan’s fiery arrows at work
- Charting the future
This guide isn’t a career-counseling course, but may help your son discover what he wants to be when he grows up. Even better, you might discover who you want to be.
About the author > Ryan J. Sanders, M. Div.
Ryan Sanders is the Director of Outreach at Manhood Journey. He is married to Tonia and they have three children. He received the Master of Divinity from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and is a Fellow at The Colson Center for Christian Worldview. Ryan serves as Lay Pastor at McLean Bible Church in Washington, DC and is a diehard Redskins fan. Learn about Ryan here, follow @RyanSanders, grab 7 Sins of a Disengaged Dad or the Field Guides for dads.