Ever been with someone who tells you that “God told them to _____________(insert random goal here).” Or maybe you were the person saying it? Whenever anyone gets to a place where they are throwing the “God card”, what they are really doing is demanding blanket approval to do what they think is right to them. When that happens to me I get uncomfortable, as though if I question what they are thinking to do I am actually questioning God!!
A better approach is to question yourself or the “word” and not God. God will almost always say yes when we just ask permission to do something, He is really big on free will, but the more appropriate question is whether you, or the other person, heard right – right timing, right target, right method, etc.
How can you better know if what you think God is saying really is what He is saying?
It’s a very healthy question to ask. The fact is that no one on earth is 10 for 10 and always gets it right 100%, especially the timing part, but the truth is that God wants to be clear with us.
Pro 1:23-25 If only you had listened when I corrected you, I would have told you what’s in my heart; I would have told you what I am thinking. I called but you refused to listen; I held out my hand, but you paid no attention. You did not follow my advice and did not listen when I corrected you.
Pro 12:1 Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.
Pro 18:2 A fool does not delight in understanding, but only in revealing his own mind.
Pro 19:3 The foolishness of man ruins his way, and his heart rages against the Lord.
The checkpoints to knowing God’s voice are important in order to avoid the “God card” mentality. I look at God’s will with a little bit of fear and trembling, especially after learning the hard way I really want to do what He wants, when He wants and the way He wants. If it is really Him, it will pass the checkpoints tests below.
Check out these 6 P’s to processing God’s voice:
1) Peace in your own heart
This one seems like a no brainer but it must be included. Unfortunately, I know of choices that people have made that were imposed on them that resulted in a life that they were not comfortable with. Career pathways, business opportunities and, unfortunately even marriage choices, are just some of the non-personal choices that I personally have seen make from outside pressure. So start here; are you at peace with this next step?
Pro 4: 11 I have directed you in the way of wisdom; I have led you in upright paths.
Pro 4:23 Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.
2) Passages of scripture
(I used the word passages so I could have a P:) This one also seems like a no brainer, but must be included. Seriously, many a poor choice could have been avoided with this simple thought. Here’s some of the foolish reasoning I have heard where this checkpoint would have saved people from bad decisions:
“But, I just really love him/her so I know this is right. Can’t you see God put that love in my heart?”
“It was like a gift of God for me to just take it, why else would it just ‘be’ there in front of me?”
“But I heard it clear as day so I know it must be God!”
Scary stuff – God never leads against his Word! If it’s not Biblical, it’s not God!
Pro 3:7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and turn away from evil.
Even if you are an adult your parents have known you longer than anyone else. They have more invested in you than most others and likely they care about you deeply. Instead of asking for permission or whether or not they think what you are considering is right, try asking them what they can see about the pros and cons of the choice you are considering. It could be deal-changing valuable information. Then if you decide to move forward, ask them if they will support you in giving it a try and walk through it with you no matter the outcome. This keeps the relationship open. In the end you have to make the choice, but often input from parents can help with more understanding of any given situation.
If you are not yet an adult, your parents’ approval is a must while you are in their home and under their care. If what you are thinking about really is God, then you can trust Him to change their heart if you are right.
Pro. 3:1 A wise son accepts his father’s discipline, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.
Pro 15:5 A fool rejects his father’s discipline, but he who regards reproof is sensible.
4) Pastors or leaders
Much like parents, asking pastors, or leaders, for input gives you a broader perspective. One caveat though: it can be dangerous to ask permission. In the end you need to make the choice. If you ask permission then you are asking the pastor or leader to hear from God for you! This puts them in a dangerous place. They are not supposed to hear from God for you. You have access to God just like they do. You are not God’s grandchild. And in the end you are responsible for your choice, not them. Also, asking permission gives you license to blame them if it doesn’t work out. It’s just not healthy on many levels.
However, asking for input and insight is SO valuable. Ask where they could see this going. Ask them if there are any blind spots that you might not be aware of. Ask them what they would do if they were you. Then make the decision yourself. Be open to the concept that the timing, target or method may need to be adjusted and they may have helpful insights.
Pro 5:12-13 And you say, “How I have hated instruction! And my heart spurned reproof! “I have not listened to the voice of my teachers, nor inclined my ear to my instructors!
Pro 13:10 Through insolence comes nothing but strife, but wisdom is with those who receive counsel.
5) Partner or Spouse
Your business partner or your spouse will be significantly affected by the choices you make, it is vitally important you have their buy-in. If they are not “for” whatever you are doing, you have to ask yourself if you are pushing it forward at the wrong time or in the wrong way. If it really is God you can trust Him to change their heart. If it really isn’t God, wouldn’ t you want to know before you pushed it through? Holding something with an open hand changes your view of it in ways that allow you to trust God and hear from God more clearly.
Pro 13:18 Poverty and shame will come to him who neglects discipline, but he who regards reproof will be honored.
Pro 14:12 There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.
Pro 15:22 Without consultation, plans are frustrated, but with many counselors they succeed.
This one is a fairly recent addition to my list of checkpoints. It’s important because of the blind spot tendency we all have with something we are passionate about. I noticed it first when I asked a gal how she was doing with her relationship with her beau and she felt they were doing great – not spending too much time together, being inclusive, pacing etc. The next appointment I had was with her RA who started the conversation with, “I hope you were talking to her about her relationship because it is out of hand!” I think the first girl really thought she was doing a good job, but she could only share with me what she was seeing from her perspective. She wasn’t lying, but she wasn’t telling the truth either. If she would have asked her RA honestly for input about what she saw in her relationship, she would have gotten perspective on a blind spot she was not even aware. (That’s why we call them blind spots – cuz you are not aware of them.) So peers become a vital checkpoint into seeing clearly what God is saying as they see your lives in a closer way than your leaders. You can only share with your leaders your perspective – what you can actually see.
Pro 27:6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.
Pro 13:20 He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.
Pro 27:17 Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.
7) Particulars – circumstances, timing
Last, but far from least, are particulars (again so I could have another P:). Circumstances and timing are so important. Maybe what you heard or what your friend heard really is from God but the timing is off, or the means is different than you thought at first. Maybe you are supposed to go to school, but maybe you need to work to get the money and not just complain that “God” didn’t make it happen or that the school should just let you in because you heard from God (You may be laughing, but I’ve heard this one too many times…). Or maybe you are supposed to work in that field, but not with the org you thought you were going to connect with. Sometimes it’s not the dream that is off, but the timing or the method.
Pro 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.
God has specific plans for us all. There are choices He allows us to make on the pathway to get there, but there is always a next step He has for us. His will is not hidden. Go ahead, take your dream through the checkpoints and be open see where He takes you!