By Danny Yohannan
Some years ago while listening to the radio, I came across an interesting discussion between two pastors. Part of their discussion was talking about how society pressures kids to figure out what they want to do with their lives based on their passions and interests.
What caught my attention were the next few sentences. They said something to the extent of, “Parents, why don’t you help your child learn to ask the question, ‘What does God want me to be when I grow up?’ rather than the typical question, ‘What do I want to be when I grow up?’” Since that day, I have thought about that discussion many times.
Isn’t it true that usually, when it comes to our own future, it hardly ever crosses our minds to focus on what God would have us do with our lives or what His desires are? Rather, we tend to focus more on what we want and what our desires are.
I believe that when it comes down to such a great unknown (like with our future) we are too often terrified that if we trust God completely, we will end up risking our entire lives in His hands, and we might end up being miserable. It seems more logical to us that if we are the ones in control then we have a better chance of being happy with the outcome of our future.
The funny thing is that we know better. We know what the Word of God says about trusting Him with our lives (see Psalms 23, 37:4 and 139). From experience, we know we are most happy and at peace when we are in God’s will and doing what He desires and calls us to do.
But how do we know what His will is? So often, it feels like it can be difficult to hear or figure out. If we really want to know God’s will, we need to first have a heart of obedience. Too many times our prayers are correct in wording and theology, but the attitude of our heart is lacking. We lack the desire or commitment to actually obey what God tells us when we pray.
In order to discern God’s leading in our lives, we need to have our minds and hearts settled and ready to obey whatever He may say, no matter how uncomfortable it might make us. Even in the prayer Jesus taught us to pray, there is the opportunity to ask that “Your will be done” in my life.
It’s a matter of being willing to listen and willing to surrender so He can have His way.
Sometimes we find it difficult to obey even the little things the Lord asks of us in our day-to-day lives. How can God lead us in the next step of His plan for us if we are unwilling to obey the step that is currently before us? It can be something we may not even think much about, such as knowing the Lord wants us to wake up a little earlier to spend time with Him but choosing to sleep instead. Or it can be knowing the Lord wants us to go and give a Gospel tract to that person at the grocery store, or to forgive that person who hurt us, or to encourage that person who is sad. But instead of obeying, we allow our fear or our pride (or some other excuse) to stop us from responding.
If we practice simple disobedience and disregard putting into practice what we already know the Lord is saying, in the end we will develop the habit of listening and understanding, but remain neutral in our following the Lord. We will discover that while we may have developed Biblical knowledge, we ultimately lack the power or discipline to do anything about it. It is only through simple obedience in the “small things” that the Lord can ultimately develop in us the ability to discover and follow His leading in our life down the road.
We might not always know the full spectrum of the future He is leading us in, but even one small step in the proper direction of God’s leading is exactly what our hearts truly long for. This is not a mystery—God made us for His glory and pleasure, and if we follow His leading then we fulfill the ultimate purpose of our lives, which is simply to obey and worship Him.
For any young person reading this who is serious about the things of God and His ways, I want to challenge you to consider setting aside a year of your life and coming to Gospel for Asia’s School of Discipleship. It is exactly the type of environment that fosters the desire for God to take the lead in your future and life, whatever that might mean for you.
And for those of us that are older or in a position of influence, we have the opportunity to encourage the young people around us not to be pressured in figuring out their life based on what society thinks is important: their own likes and dislikes. Rather, encourage them to take time to fast, pray and cry out to God, asking Him, “Lord what do You want me to be when I grow up?” And we should fast, pray and cry out to God right alongside them.
Unless we help our young people take God seriously and be willing to trust Him with their most precious gift—their future—how can we encourage them to follow the Lord wholeheartedly in any other area of life?
And this is not just true for students or young people. Wherever we are in life, whether ages 9 or 90, we need to learn to ask God to direct our future, and then commit to following whatever that might mean. We have to break free from this mindset in today’s generation that we can disregard God and do whatever we want because it’s “my life” and then expect Him to simply go along with our plans and bless them.
Look at the men and women of history and in the Bible that we admire and look up to. They were those who were willing to abandon their lives and future into the hands of God completely and simply say “Lord, what do You want me to be when I grow up?” No matter what age you might be, all of us can take that prayer and make it a daily part of our thinking and attitude.
God is absolutely faithful in all He does and it is through His leading that we find life and purpose—more than we could ever have experienced trying to wing it on our own.
Learn more about GFA’s School of Discipleship
Click here, to read more articles on Patheos by Dr. KP Yohannan Metropolitan.