I am job hunting. For the second time in five years I’m looking for ministry employment. In my first 20 years of ministry I only went where I was called and never had to give out one resume or search one internet site for a job. But now, due to circumstances, mostly the economy, I am once again looking for work and I’ve been looking for almost 6 months.
I have to admit that this was not where I wanted to be and it’s not been easy. As of this moment I have applied to over 30 churches and at this writing only 10 are active. In other words I’ve been rejected by 20! How do you find your way when you can’t find a map or when you don’t know which way to go?
I had some tough inquiries for God (okay, maybe not tough for Him but tough for me to ask!). “God, why am I out of work again?” “God, where do you want me to go?” “How come I’m having such a hard time finding something?” “How do I find my way to where you want me to be?”
Well, a few weeks ago I was in this real intense conversation with God about this and it was almost as if I heard him say, “Why don’t you practice what you preach?” Huh? Then it hit me. In ministering to others I always gave them 5 questions to ask to help them seek God’s guidance in any situation or decision. I hadn’t thought of these questions so I went back to them and sure enough they helped. Now, I don’t have a job just yet but I do have more peace about my search and for that I’m truly thankful. So, I thought I would share the questions here just in case someone else could use them. Here they are:
Question #1 – Am I willing to follow wherever God leads? I believe the means of determining God’s direction in any decision in life begins with the first phrase in Proverbs 3:5 “Trust the Lord with all your heart…” “In all your ways acknowledge Him.” You just can’t get around the little three-letter word: ALL. “All your heart – all your ways.” If we are to walk in God’s Will there must first be a complete allegiance to Him. He promises IF we give him our all He will then “direct our paths.” Just as a TV must be tuned to a station we have to be tuned to the Spirit of God in order to receive clear reception and direction. I don’t think we can expect God to guide us if we have divided loyalties. Am I willing to go wherever God leads even if that’s not where I want to go? In my case I had to ask such questions as: “If the Lord wants me to minister to a church of 50 am I willing?” “If the Lord wants me to be a Security Officer, not in vocational ministry, and help the church I attend am I willing?” This first question is really a matter of attitude – am I going to trust God, with all my heart and in all my ways, no matter what? Once you’ve answered that one you can go on to #2.
Question #2- Does my desire agree with scripture? This may sound silly but God’s guidance is always consistent with the His Word in the Bible. I am convinced that God will never guide you to do something that is diametrically opposed to His revealed will. If you really desire to know God’s will saturate yourself with Scripture.That’s an infallible point of reference. Don’t waste your time seeking God’s guidance in areas that are already clear in His Word. Don’t ask whether or not you should marry a non-Christian or go into a business partnership with one. 2 Cor.6:14 says, “Don’t be yoked together with unbelievers.” Don’t ask God whether you should make that business deal where you have to shave the truth a little. Jesus said in Matt. 5:37 “Simply let your yes be yes and your no be no.” In other words God’s will is for you to be a person of truth. It’s an absolute waste of energy to ask if it’s God’s Will whether you should leave your mate for another. God’s already said, “Don’t break faith with the wife of your youth.” (Mal. 2:15-16) and “Marriage should be honored by all and the marriage bed kept pure.” (Hb. 13:4) These are things God doesn’t change so if we are wondering about doing something that violates Scripture we are outside of God’s will – it’s as simple as that.
Question #3: Have I taken time to pray? Ask yourself if you’re rushing into making this decision or if you have taken time to ask the Lord’s guidance and to think it through. We sometimes rush into decisions thinking: “If I don’t act now while the iron’s hot – I’ll miss out on it.” But listen, if God is in it – it can wait a minute. God rarely requires us to act on sudden suggestions. Judy Watson wrote: “The devil wants you to be in a hurry and rush and not wait for anything. Whereas Jesus is always quiet and calm and takes His time.” Phil. 4:6-8 reads: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, present your requests to God.” And that includes all requests; from buying a car to seeking employment. As believers we know the Holy Spirit helps us in prayer. He can convict us as to the rightness or wrongness of the decision. But that takes time to inquire of the Lord.
Question #4: Have I sought Christian counsel? Prov:15:22 reads, “Plans fail for lack of counsel but with advisers they succeed.” Ask yourself: “What do my Christian friends and my Christian leaders counsel me to do?” Allow me to emphasis Christian counsel. We make a bad mistake when we go to the world for advice. They don’t have the same set of values. Psalms 1:1 reads, “Blessed are those who do not walk in the counsel of the unGodly.” If you’re seeking God’s will counsel with people who know God well. Make sure you run your thought process by them and listen to their response.
Question #5: Are the doors opening up or am I hammering them down? For me this question has to come last. Why? Because it’s more subjective than the others. Plus, you’ve got to be careful because Satan can make things easy too. It’s an easy temptation to try to make God’s Will fit our desires instead of fitting our desires into God’s Will. Remember Jonah? He directly went against God’s will and yet things seemed to flow for him. He got to Joppa ok, he found a boat at just the right time, he had the right amount of money to pay for the trip and the ship was headed in his direction – away from God! We need to make sure we don’t play the game of making God’s guidance fit what we want. So, ask yourself, are the doors opening up for me or am I hammering them down? Am I forcing my way or am I seeing God’s way?
David said in Psalms 23 “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He LEADS ME…”
Now, this doesn’t mean we sit back and wait for God to show us the door, turn the knob and then drag us through. We still must apply some effort. It would be foolish of me in my situation not to search for positions or send out any resumes and then cry: “Lord, why aren’t you supplying me a job?” Send out resumes, have interviews, make phone calls, network with others, consider options. God wants us to use the common sense He has given us. Isa.1:18 says, “Come let us reason together says the Lord.”
But if the doors do not open by natural means, forcing our way through them may mean we are rationalizing to get our own way. It should open with a reasonable amount of effort.
As I said above, make this question last but don’t leave it out. After you’ve settled the first four questions in your mind then tackle this one.
Now, these questions are not infallible in clearly determining each individual decision, but they can be very helpful. I know they have given me the peace to know I’m on the right track and that God will show me HIS way, “directing my path.”