God’s Will and Our Gifts

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This article is an installment of Holy Joys Questions. Submit your questions to questions@holyjoys.org.

Question: How do our spiritual gifts and our natural inclinations factor into discerning God’s will for our lives?

First, with regard to spiritual gifts: The Bible tells us that every believer has at least one spiritual gift (1 Cor. 12:7). The reason God gives us spiritual gifts is so that we can help build up the Body of Christ (Eph. 4:11-16) and be productive citizens in His Kingdom (Luke 19:11-27).

The abilities God has given us should serve as clues to discerning the kinds of work God wants us to pursue. (I say “kinds of work” because almost all believers are called upon to engage in many different kinds of tasks in their lifetime.) Only rarely does God call a person to a job for which they have little or no ability. Therefore, we should expect there to be a good fit between the path God calls us to walk and our God-given abilities.

We should expect there to be a good fit between the path God calls us to walk and our God-given abilities.

Provided you are already doing all that you know God wants you to do, you are seeking counsel from your parents, pastor, and godly counselors, but you do not have any direct leadership from the Lord about what He wants you to do next, then I suggest the following additional steps:

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Have I told God I’m willing to do anything He wants me to do? If not, do so.
  2. Have I asked God what He wants me to do? If not, start.
  3. What vocations interest me the most? Make a list.
  4. What vocations do I have the basic aptitudes for? If you’re unsure, take a basic aptitude test to get an external assessment.
  5. Men should ask themselves, “Do any of my interests lie in areas where it is extremely difficult or virtually impossible to make a living unless I am a virtuoso?” Since men are required to provide for their families, if your vocational interests won’t provide sufficient income for a family, and you plan to have a family, you should focus on interests that can support you and a family.

Once you have a list of your areas of interest and have matched them with your aptitudes, begin exploring what opportunities exist for your to pursue your areas of aptitude/interest.

As you explore, continue to ask God for His Spirit’s leadership and ask Him to close any doors He doesn’t want you to go through. God often works through providentially opening and closing doors (1 Cor. 16:9; 2 Cor. 2:12).

God often works through providentially opening and closing doors

Trust God that He is more interested in you fulfilling His purpose for your life than you are.

Walk through open doors in confidence that God is leading you.

Perhaps two examples will help. King David wanted to honor God by building a temple for His glory. When he shared his desire with the prophet Nathan, Nathan’s response was, “Do all that is in your heart, for God is with you” (1 Chron. 17:2). David’s spiritual advisor encouraged him to follow his desires. In this case, however, God intervened and told Nathan to go back to David and tell him not to build the temple. This shows that God will let His will be known when His people’s well-intentioned desires are not His will.

In Acts 16:6 Paul, Silas, and Timothy were preaching the gospel in Turkey and they wanted to preach in Asia. They had the gifts, the abilities, and preaching the gospel is certainly in harmony with God’s will. But Luke records that the Holy Spirit forbade them to preach in Asia. In Acts 16:7 they tried to go to Bithynia to preach the gospel and the Spirit did not permit them to do this either.

I take from these two examples that as we seek to do the will of God, we can be fully confident that God will close doors He doesn’t want us walking through and open the doors he does.

 


 

Originally published in God’s Revivalist. Used by permission.

Philip Brownhttp://apbrown2.net
Dr. Philip Brown is Graduate Program Director and Professor at God's Bible School & College. He holds a PhD in Old Testament Interpretation from Bob Jones University and is the author of A Reader's Hebrew Bible (Zondervan Academic, 2008).