Jan Johnson
Jan Johnson

WisBits Archive

July 2009


People get in a muddle over discerning God’s will when they have to make a decision. Here are the two misguided assumptions I see most frequently.

Assumption 1) If faced with two job opportunities or two homes to buy, one must be God’s will and the other is not. So I must guess! I must figure it out!

Instead, consider that it’s quite possible that either job or either house is fine. Most often God’s will is more about my character than what exactly I do--more on what kind of person I am working either job or living in either house. God’s will is that I be gracious and kind so if taking a certain job or living in a certain place will help me be gracious and kind, I might want to do that. God’s will is rarely about doing X, Y & Z but about loving “the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' and 'Love your neighbor as yourself'” (Mark 12:30, 31).

Generally, a simple place to live is more in line with God’s will because building “bigger barns” makes us focus on owning more stuff (Luke 12:16-21). But it’s also about who I am in either house. It’s not so much the size of the house but the size of my heart: Is my life mostly about owning and acquiring more things? Do I have a right heart toward my neighbors? Am I likely to share my sofa as a place of sleeping for someone who’s a little lost at the moment?

Assumption 2) If I really want a certain job or house, it must not be God’s will because God’s will is always full of suffering and “learning lessons.” Another version: If I loathe the idea of serving in Rwanda, God must want me to do that. (People often talk about God’s sense of humor here as if God loves to make us miserable or prove us to be stupid.) The idea is that God never wants anything I really want because I’m just a bad, dumb person. Just because we want something doesn’t necessarily mean it’s wrong or bad.

Where the above comes into play is if I’m continually focused on looking out for myself only and my own needs (which is the way of our culture). So I do need to look at my heart and ask why I want that job or house. Do I have something to prove, someone to impress? Do I love its proximity to the hills where I can walk or its garden-like backyard so I can enjoy God?

Patiently unraveling the hidden and multi-layered motives of our heart is an important process (Jer 17:9). Such time is never wasted and usually turns out to be much more significant than our actual decision. “It is God’s intention that we should grow into the kind of person God could empower to do what we want to do” (Divine Conspiracy).

So God’s will is that I want God everyday instead of wanting God to give me what I want or wanting God to show me the perfect, problem-free answer to my decision. God’s will today is that I become a God-seeker who’s learning to let that go-the-extra-mile behavior flow out of me. As that happens, I’m liable to do all kinds of odd or unusual things to the glory of God.

Grace and peace,
Jan Johnson




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