- – - I am trusting that none of you made a life decision about marriage the way this guy was trying to. If you did, we need to talk. But how many of you have made a decision using one of those methods. Maybe you flipped a coin about which of two good options to choose. Hopefully no one ever asked the magic 8 ball a question and took the answer seriously, but I do know people who have opened the Bible and pointed to a passage and then tried to use that verse to guide their lives.
While I never did that, well, I never did it seriously, I did open the phone book once, to the section on churches, and I closed my eyes and pointed to a church, and then I said that was the church God wanted me to attend. The problem was that my finger landed on a church that was not a Christian Church, but I was convinced that was where God wanted me to go. All my friends tried to talk me out of it, but I went, and while the experience was interesting, I did not get much out of my time there, except this great story.
Decision making is hard. It seems like it should get easier as we go through life because we get a lot of experience making decisions. Let’s face it; we make lots of decisions in life. Should I go out for football, or basketball, or band, or all three? What classes should I take to get ready for college? Should I go to college? What college should I go to? What will be my major? What do I want to do when I grow up? Many of us are still asking that question.
Should I date? Who should I date? I think I love her, should we get married? Should we have children? Should we push our children in football, basketball, or band? Should we buy a house or keep renting? Should we buy a new car? Which car? Should I stay in my job or find a new job? Should I retire? What will I do when I retire?
Decision making never gets any easier, in fact in some ways it gets getting harder because there are simply more choices for us today. When I graduated from High School there were basically only three options. You went to college, you went into the military, or you got a job. That was it. Today high school students still have those three choices, but they can also take a gap year, and either enter into a program that will allow them to explore all kinds of options, and take classes at the same time, or travel. They could actually start their own business, become a YouTube Star, or a gamer, or maybe start a small Internet company like, I don’t know, Facebook. Today there are simply more choices, so decision making is harder. This struggle actually has a name; they call it, decision fatigue. Decision fatigue is when a person has a difficult time making a decision because many good options are available.
The decisions we make are important because who we will be tomorrow is the result of the decisions we make today. We know this is true because who we are today is the result of all the decisions we made yesterday. Some of the decisions have been good, and some not so good, but all of them have shaped who we are. So decision making is important, and there are times we all look for some divine direction. Am I doing what God wants me to do? Is this the direction God has for my life? Is this the decision I need to make in this situation to be faithful?
The question I am asked most often is, how do I know what God wants me to do? I have asked that question myself, a lot, so over the next few weeks, we are going to try and build a foundation on which we can stand in order to answer this question. While the divine direction we may want is usually connected to the details of a situation, do I take this job, do I marry this person, what we are going to learn and put into place is this,
How do I become the right person to make the right decisions?
Here is our first principle:
God cares more about WHO we are than what we DO.
Now, if you were here last week, you might take issue with me because I said that the secret to contentment is not in what we have, but in what we do. And now I’m saying that who is more important than do. Yes, that is all true. What we do is more important than what we have, and who we are is more important than what we do. Too often we get mired down in all the daily decisions we have to make, and then we get stressed out over the big decisions we face. We start thinking that every decisionis, do or die, make or break. We start thinking that everything will fall apart if we don’t do the right thing, but God wants us to focus on first is WHO we are. If we get the WHO right, the DO will follow.If we get the WHO right, thenwhat we need to DO will be clear. If we become the right person, we will do the right things.
So, who are we? We are God’s children, created in God’s image. As children of God, we were created to live a specific way, a way that God laid out for us in his word, and the way God showed us in the life of Jesus. It says in 1 Thessalonians 4:3; It is God’s will for you to be holy. So God wants us to be holy, but this doesn’t mean perfect, it means different, it means being set apart.
Being holy means we follow a different set of values from the world around us, and we set priorities according to God’s will, and word, and according to what we see in Jesus. Being holy means growing into the likeness of Jesus. Jesus didn’t give his followers a set of rules to follow, he wasn’t about doing specific things; he was about growing in character, he was concerned about WHO people became. Were people growing in love? Were people forgiving, and humble? The only thing Jesus asked people to do was to follow. Follow me was the consistent call of Jesus, and it was going to be in following Jesus, that people would then know what to DO.
So the first principle is WHO before DO. Who does God want me to become? This is so much more important than asking what God wants me to do. If we would spend more time answering this question, the rest would begin to fall into place. And notice it says “become”, because we never fully arrive. We grow in holiness as we follow Jesus; this implies a process, a journey, or a lifestyle that we enter into. It is a pathway that we walk throughout our lives.
So we ask WHO before DO, and our second principle is that we ask WHY before WHAT. What is our motivation in life? Why do we want to do things? Jesus was always more concerned about the heart than the action. If you remember the dangerous prayer we just studied, it was all about searching our heart. Search me, O God, and know my heart, test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting. This prayer asks God to help us come to terms with the WHY, the motivations of our heart, and then we ask God to lead us in the what, and how, and when.
Motivation, the WHY, is important. It says in Proverbs 16:2, All a man’s ways seem innocent to him, but the motives are weighed by the Lord. God is more concerned about our motives because, if we have the right motives, we will end up in the right place. That doesn’t mean we will always make the right choices, and it doesn’t mean everything will work out according to our plan, but we will always be in the right place – because the place we will be is in a right relationship with God. And that needs to be the primary motive our lives, to be in a right relationship with God.
Colossians 3:17, Whatever you do, in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. What I love about this verse is that it doesn’t necessarily tell us to stop what we are doing, or start doing new things, we just have to do everything for the right reasons, for the glory of God. We don’t quit our jobs, end our relationships, get off the team, or drop out of school, we just start doing it all for God, and trust that God will give is the divinedirection we need for our future. If our motives are right, and we are doing things for God, then the countless daily decisions we make every day will lead us to where God wants us to be.
Knowing what God wanted me to do with my life has always been a challenge for me. I really didn’t know what God wanted me to do in high school and college, and there was a year I even dropped out of college because I had no sense of God’s divine direction. In time, God made it clear to me that I needed to go back to college, so I did, and I resigned myself to simply going to school for the Lord. That was my focus. I kept my major, and I took classes to finish my degree. I was a student making my way forward, but I was now a student for the Lord.
I was focusing on WHO before DO and WHY before WHAT. I still struggled with direction and decisions. I graduated with no job and an uncertain future, but there was a sense of peace God gaveme and the peace I experience in that season of my lifelaid a foundation for my future. Before we can start looking at the specific decisions we have in front of us today, we need to focus on WHO we are and WHY we do what we do.
Think about some of the most influential people in your life, those people who have made the greatest impact on you. What many of these people have in common is that it wasn’t what they did that really mattered, or made the difference, it was who they were. My Grandmother was one of the most influential people in my life, and she never worked a day in her life. Now, what I mean by that is that she never had a full time job or a career, but who she was, made all the difference. She was kind, generous, and smart. She loved life and nature, she poured herself into her grandchildren, and she had a dream and vision for my life before I did. This was actually her dream and vision for me – being a pastor. The impact she made in my life came from WHO she was and WHY she lived the way she did. She lived the way she did because she loved us. Love was what motivated her in so many situations and it was that love that made the difference.
I said last week that we don’t get to the end of our lives and want to be surrounded by all our stuff, and most of us aren’t going to be thinking about our jobs, promotions, or awards either, we are going to want to be surrounded by those we love. At the end of his life, Jesus was focused on those he loved, his family. Jesus looked down from the cross and saw his mother Mary and his good friend, John. He cared so much for these two people that he asked them to take care of each other, to love one another. That’s who Jesus was. He always wanted those around him to become a family and love each other. Jesus wanted people to be connected to others and serve others as grow in faith and love. Know WHO you are and WHY you do what you do and then God can provide His divine direction.
To build a foundation from which we can see and trust God’s divine direction, we need to focus on
WHO before DO
WHY before WHAT
Becoming the right person will help us do the right thing. Being driven by the right motivation will lead us to the right places. So, if we want to know God’s will for our lives, if we want divine direction, it all starts here. WHO before DO. WHY before WHAT.
Divine Direction – The Power to Become
1. What decision are you wrestling with today?
2. God is more concerned about WHO than DO.
- Read 1 Thessalonians 4:3.
- What does it mean for you to become holy?
- How can this remain your focus throughout the week?
3. God is more concerned about WHY than WHAT.
- Read Proverbs 16:2 and Colossians 3:17.
- What motives can you uncover in the decision you identified in Question 1?
- What would it look like for you, to do the same things, but to do them in the name of the Lord? What might change?
4. Identify an influential and inspirational person in your life.
- Was it their character (WHO) and motives (WHY) that inspired you, or the actions and activity?
- How can you learn from these people what it means to focus on the WHO and the WHY?
- How can they specifically help you focus on WHO God wants you to be?
5. At some point we have to DO something. Don’t focus on the specific details of what to do, focus on the core values of becoming WHO God wants us to be. These core values are:
- Connect to God and one another.
- Serve Christ and the community.
- Grow deeper in faith.
What one thing can you do in each area to become more of WHO God wants you to be?