How does a Christian young person discern God’s will regarding career, college, and calling to ministry?
We find our directives from the Scripture. Christians are called to a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Under the Lordship of Jesus, we are called to worship, stewardship, fellowship, discipleship and leadership. A calling to ministry is a call to be a disciple, a call to preparation, and a call to global disciple-making.
There is no secret formula, but Acts 1:12-26 provides us principles which the early church followed to discern and obey God’s will.
Principle 1: Remain faithful to Jesus’s last instruction until He gives you something else (1:4, 8, 12). The disciples returned to Jerusalem after the ascension because Jesus told them to do so. We live in a day when God’s Word is treated as optional. The New Testament tell us that it is God’s will for us to Experience Grace (receiving eternal life in Christ – John 6:40), Exercise Growth (in holy living – 1 Thes 4:3), and Express Gratitude (1 Thes 5:18). If we are unwilling to obey God in these instructions, why should He grant us discernment for a college major, a career, or a call to missions?
Principle 2: Gather with fellow believers in unity and in prayer (1:13-14). Whatever petty grievances or competitions they had previously, the disciples put them aside as they awaited empowerment by the Holy Spirit to be witnesses. Seeking God’s face in prayer aligns our wills with His will. Whatever He teaches us in prayer will be for His glory and for the benefit of the body of Christ.
Principle 3: Listen to what God is saying in His Word (1:15-20). Peter took the position of leadership entrusted to Him (Jn 21:15-17). He called believers to discern God’s will for a replacement for Judas as one of the Twelve. His evidence for this call was the Scripture, quoting from the Psalms. God continues to speak today through His word. We must pray God will give us ears to hear what the Holy Spirit is saying to us.
Principle 4: Discern what preparation is required for the Christ-centered task at hand (1:21-22). To be qualified, a man must have followed Jesus from His baptism until His resurrection. Many men followed Jesus through His ministry, but only two met the requirements. High school students may choose to major in fields for which they have little aptitude and no experience, or they may discern a calling for ministry for which they have no training. They may want to be married, but they are not interested in courtship or dating. Personal experience, godly counsel, character development and faithfulness over time are often factors in the preparation. A call to ministry is a call to preparation. That’s one of the reasons why we require ministry students to participate in ministry teams and a semester-long ministry internship at UMobile.
Principle 5: Look at the circumstances and trust that God will guide you as a group and as an individual (1:23-26). Once the disciples discovered that two men met the qualifications, they used a method for discerning God’s direction. They cast lots. The early church believed that God was so involved in the affairs of the congregation that He would direct them to the man of His choosing. He did, and Matthias was affirmed.
Here is one caveat: Beware of looking at the circumstances first. Immature believers have a tendency to look for short-cuts to God’s will, assuming that every open door is an indication from God. Mature believers recognize that He guides in a variety of ways.
Remain faithful. Pray together in unity. Seek the Lord in prayer. Study the word. Make preparations. Look at circumstances. Trust God. He will lead you.
(Reprinted from The Alabama Baptist.)