For believers, our lifelong desire is to know and obey God’s will for our life. As simple as this sentence is stated, accomplishing this goal is not as simple as that in our day to day life! The recurring question for a number of people that I have met is how do I Know God’s will. Sometimes the question may be in relation to a specific matter. For those who have established God’s will for themselves, they may lack the discipline or power to carry it out. So, how can we know God’s will or those pursuing the execution of God’s will in their life?
Knowing God’s will
I thank God, who put into the heart of Titus the same concern I have for you. For Titus not only welcomed our appeal, but he is coming to you with much enthusiasm and on his own initiative. – 2 Cor. 8: 16 – 17
I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare. For everyone looks out for his interest, not those of Jesus Christ. But Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel. – Phil. 2: 20 – 2
Titus and Timothy in the passages above had a genuine interest in the welfare of others. They were concerned about pursuing the welfare of their target group. They proved their concern by taking initiative on what God has placed in their heart. God placed the interest or desire for someone or something in our heart. This resulted in the drive to pursue the object of interest. There were enthusiasm and personal motivation. The person who has your welfare or interest as their concern is a natural choice. These are the ones that are referred to as shepherds. The hired hands are only interested in their own welfare.
In response to our prayer, God creates the desire for someone to make themselves available to solve that particular problem. What distinguishes a hired hand and a shepherd? The difference lies in the interest they pursue. Selfish pursuits sabotage or sacrifices the interest or well-being of any other people or enterprise they are supposed to be promoting.
Doing God’s will
Knowing God’s will is not synonymous with doing it. Our faith in God is expressed in actions we take and not just in verbal expressions.
What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘’Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’’ ‘’I will not,’’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.
Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, I will, sir,’’ but he did not go. “Which of the two did what his father wanted?’” – Matt.21: 28 – 31
A proof of a person’s concern or interest is their willingness to take initiative to broach an idea and execute it, take responsibility, or to go an extra mile without being asked. It is one thing to express interest or willingness to make oneself available. It is another thing to follow through on one’s commitment. People are generally committed to what they love or are interested in. They prove their love or interest by their pursuit.
This scripture in 2 Cor. 8: 16 – 17 and Phil. 2: 20 – 2 helps us to see that one of the ways to identify God’s will for us in different situations is the concern or interest that is generated in our heart or put in our heart by the Holy Spirit.
Furthermore, as we can see in Matt.21: 28 – 31, the proof of our willingness to do God’s will does not lie in mental assent but in actual practice. The testimony of Timothy in Phil. 2: 20 – 2 is that he proved himself. We prove our testimony by the action we take on our confession.
How to clarify God’s will
One may want to ask that how may we be sure that this particular interest is of God? Here is a checklist of ways to identify God’s will:
- By faith in the fact of God’s word that God has given us the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth and therefore He will confirm His will by the presence or absence of His peace in our lives. The mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace. (Romans 8:6b)
- We also can confirm the will of God by the kind of results we get when we pursue that interest. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22)
- Another way to clarify if this is God’s direction is to check if the intent reflects the attributes of God. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness. (James 3:17 – 18)
- Lastly, does this pursuit glorify God? Getting married is God’s plan for mankind but being unequally yoked does not glorify Him.
Taking the next step
Knowing the will of God is one thing, doing God’s will is another matter entirely. For instance, it is God’s will for us to get married but being unequally yoked is not God’s will for a Christian. In doing God’s will our actions must be in total compliance with God’s plan. Saul was to wait for seven days for Samuel to come and offer sacrifice to the Lord but his self-compulsion outside God’s plan did him in.
In Matt.21: 28 – 31, the father spoke to the two sons about going to work in the vineyard. It was the son that rejected going that eventually obeyed his father. A lot of people will express interest but not everyone will follow through on their commitment. It is those that take definite steps that truly know God’s will.
The purpose of service is to make things functional, easier or better. Service is the action of helping or doing work for someone. People are appointed to positions to serve or lead in other to make the job of the boss easier or the life of the constituents they serve better. In other words, they promote the interest of the people they represent by lightening their load.
It is important to know your purpose, assignment or role in a relationship or any position that you occupy. This should serve as a guiding light in your decision-making process.
Moses was advised by his father-in-law to appoint different levels of leaders to make his load of serving the people lighter (Exodus 18:13 – 26). Unfortunately, some of the same leaders he appointed developed an overinflated opinion about themselves and rebelled against him (Numbers 16:1 -4). They ended up making his work to become more difficult.
When Rehoboam was made King, the people asked him to lighten the harsh labor and heavy yoke King Solomon had put on them and they will serve him. He refused and even threatened to increase their hardship. This error in judgment cost him the majority of his kingdom (1 Kings 12: 1 – 17). Jesus denounced the Pharisees because they misplaced their priorities and loaded people down with burdens they can hardly carry and also refused to help them with it (Luke 11:46).
What holds people back from performing the role expected of them?
1. Having an overinflated opinion of themselves. When people have an overinflated opinion of themselves they tend to overreach themselves. They tend to believe they are worth more in their own eyes and believe they possess certain powers that don’t exist. They have an excessively favourable opinion of their abilities. People who find themselves in responsibilities that they are not qualified for are most times susceptible to this. The Bible warns against giving recent converts leadership roles so that they will not become conceited and fall under the same judgment the devil fell into (1 Tim 3:6). They tend to reach out for what is not theirs to take and make decisions that are beyond the authority given to them. They also tend to view themselves as equal or more capable than the person that appointed them. Like King Saul, the humility they once possess is no longer found. This is pride.
2. False sense of security. This is an offspring of pride. When people believe that they are entitled to their position they tend to take things for granted. They no longer believe in doing the hard work that got them where they are today. People exist to serve them and not the other way round. With this comes contempt and disrespect for others. Since they no longer value the people they represent, they see no need to care for them or make their concern a priority in their decision-making.
3. Misplaced priorities. To perpetuate the reign or self – importance, they make the task of their people difficult and the process of solving problems becomes a mystery only the leader has the capacity to resolve. The goal of leadership is to serve. The goal of service is to solve problems or make hard things simple. The Pharisees saw themselves first as custodians of the law whose primary responsibility is to make the law grand and to be quick to point out those who have transgressed the law rather than the people’s representatives before God, whose role is to help people to obey God’s law by enlightening them in way they can understand God’s way and obey Him.
How then can we be able to perform our role as expected?
1. We should not think of ourselves more than we should. Be sober in your estimation of your abilities. Remember that no one is indispensable and we all need help in one area or the other.
2. Count your role as a privilege to serve. With that mindset, you will be able to remind yourself that it is not about you but about the people who have put their trust in you.
3. Make yourself accountable to those you are responsible to or for. We are more conscious of our actions when we know we have to give an account of our stewardship.
4. Develop a healthy balance on how you handle praise or criticism. When we personalize the praise or criticism we receive, it can be destructive. Excessive praise inflates our ego while destructive criticism deflates our self-worth.
5. Remember that leadership is about solving problems. Consider how you can make the life of people around you better and not worse than you met it. That is how to be a blessing – by lightening the load that people carry.
A seed sown is maximized to the point at which we know how to process it. In Isaiah 28: 23 – 29, seeds are sown to get other seeds and seeds are processed to make bread. Process is a series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular end.
The understanding of these two processes is given to us by God. He gave us the seed to sow and also gave us the understanding to process it into bread. The key issue here in the Law of the Seed is that the seed will respond to you the most to the level of your understanding of how to process it (the level of profit you get from the seed is determined by the level of your understanding of how to process it).
In the first place, you must be able to identify each seed and what it requires in the sowing process. Some seeds need to be carefully placed in proven fertile ground, others may grow on different types of soil while some are scattered indiscriminately over a field. You start by being able to differentiate what kind of sowing your seed requires in other to thrive so you can get the best yield.
You also need to know how to process each type of seed in order to produce the food you will eat. This is where the trick is. God gives us the final output through helping us to understand the process of generating it. George Washington Carver developed more than 300 products from peanuts. He created products with peanuts such as, milk, dyes and cheese and also proposed peanut oil as a treatment for polio. All this happened by asking God for direction.
Despite limited natural resources, the tiny nation of Israel is a major exporter of fresh produce and a world leader in agricultural technologies despite the fact that the geography of Israel is not naturally conducive to agriculture.
The Keys to Understanding Process
The first key to the understanding of process is to be self-aware that you can do more with what you have. Most of the time, our capacity is only understood when we are facing tough challenges. The earlier our self-awareness kicks in, the more our chances of generating better results. I can multiply my effectiveness in helping the lost, the poor and the weary when I become aware of how I can enable some of them, and even mobilize others to assist me in the cause.
The second key is to be curious. Be willing enough to explore new frontiers and ask questions. Being curious helps you to notice what is imperceptible to others and opens you up to a world of possibilities. Moses was curious about the bush that was burning but was not consumed and it opened the door to his destiny. If the daughters of Zelophehad had not asked probing questions, they wouldn’t have received anything from their father’s property. By asking questions, we fine tune our approach, deepen our understanding of the why’s and how’s of our objective, identify what makes sense and eliminate what will not work.
The third key is to educate your mind to think better and not just to acquire information. The better the quality of your thinking, the better the nature of your approach to issues and by extension the better the results you will get. The best way to do this is to rub minds with those who will challenge your thinking especially those who have walked that way before and have proven results. There is not much progress that can be made when below average students study together alone. Neither can you expect much reversal in failure in any enterprise when you seek counsel only from those who also struggling with the process. This is not to say that they cannot succeed but the chances of such happening are very low. The Book of the Law is not to depart from our mouth. By continual meditation and practice success is guaranteed.
The fourth key requires that you have the sense of timing. Everything in life has its proper time and procedure. The Bible talks about the men of Issachar, who understood the times and knew what Israel should do. When you plant a seed, you release its potential. If you plant it before or after its time you will not get the most of its potential. It is the same when a seed is processed below or beyond the required point. A fifty-year-old pursuing a first degree will utilize more effort in retaining what he is being taught whereas a twenty-year-old pursuing the same agenda will retain what he is being taught almost effortlessly. Certain inventions have been made ahead of their time which has resulted in their failure. Others came after they were no longer needed. You need to seize the moments that God presents to you.
The fifth key is to be faithfully committed to the enterprise you are engaged in. When you are devoted to a cause it has a way of influencing your perception of the opportunities and threats that surround it. Joshua and Caleb’s commitment to their God-given goal of possessing Canaan influenced their vision and their speech. Solomon’s commitment to God and His people influenced his request for wisdom and God gave him more than he asked for. God rewards our faith and our faithfulness by opening doors of opportunity before us.
The sixth key is to create and be involved in relationships where you can serve others. Even when you seem to be involved in relationships that the recipients of your service can’t seem to pay you for it, it can also be mutually beneficial because you have the opportunity to hone your skills for free. Those who teach others become better informed than those who hoard knowledge. In fact, it enables cross pollination of ideas. Creating an avenue for shared knowledge provides sounding board for your thoughts. As you receive feedback you are then able to refine your ideas which will help you to get better results when implemented.
The seventh key is humility. When you get rid of arrogance and show that you are willing the learn you open yourself to receive what money may not be able to buy for you. Esther’s humility played a significant role in enabling her to be guided by Hegai, the king’s eunuch. She eventually became the queen. Hegai is a slave and a eunuch alright but he knows what will delight the king.
A seed that is sown can only thrive in an environment that supports its growth. Our environment has a significant influence on our growth and productivity. An individual’s environment can be considered from two viewpoints: the one we find ourselves in or the one we create for ourselves.
Dictionary.com defines environment as the social and cultural forces that shape the life of a person or a population. Merriam – Webster defines environment as the conditions that surround someone or something; the conditions and influences that affect the growth, health, progress, etc., of someone or something.
The parable of the sower in Luke 8: 1 – 15, highlights four environmental types or conditions and their effect on our growth and productivity. We see from the illustration that the fate of the seed was determined by the environment it was in. The end result or expectation from sowing the seed is to see it grow into a plant and then produce fruit. This expectation can be mitigated by an unfavorable environment. Let’s look at the four environment or conditions where seeds are sown.
1. Seed sown along the path. The condition of lethargy. When you have an expectation to succeed as a student, in your career, or relationship, to grow as a Christian, but you don’t bother to know on a day to day basis, what you need to do to achieve that goal and also to apply yourself to it or if the person lacks internal motivation to pursue that goal will cause the realization of such goal to become a mirage.
Growth and productivity signify firstly that you have identified certain areas of your life that are holding you back and decided to break away from them. You have also become aware of certain things that will impact your life positively and you are engaging in them continually. When your desire to remain the same in an area is stronger than your desire to change you will never grow and be productive in that area. The stronger desire will dominate the weaker one. To keep your hope alive, you must walk in the truths that you have been shown in the word of God. You must be passionate and consistent in applying truth to your life.
2. Seed sown on the rock. The condition that discourages commitment. A double minded is unstable in all he does James 1:8. In this scenario, the individual loves God and is excited about his new found relationship with God but he is not willing to commit to the long haul. They begin the journey to transformation but lack the drive to see it to the end. If you fail in the days of adversity, your strength is small. Prov. 24: 10. Lack of depth leads to lack of endurance during the challenging periods of life. Time spent daily in prayer and Bible study helps us to grow in our walk with God. With knowledge comes power. Power is the ability to influence or control. The less depth or knowledge an individual has, the less the ability they have to control their growth. Be it in obeying God’s will for their life or succeeding in any venture or marriage, parenting or their job. Any major challenge will put an end to their endeavor. The level of depth a person has indicates the level of their reservoir of power. They have enough desire to begin but not enough to commit. They are okay with getting their feet wet by the river will never swim. Job was able to go through his challenges because he had depth.
3. Seed sown among thorns. The condition of a divided focus. In this scenario, the seed grew up where thorns are also growing. The activity of the thorns did not allow the seed to grow to maturity. The seed could not break forth to produce fruit because another force was draining its energy and contending for space and nutrients it needs to produce. When Isaac dug wells in Genesis 26 and there was a dispute over them, he moved over to another location to dig another well. He repeated the process until he dug a well he had no dispute over. He named the well Rehoboth saying. “The LORD has given us room and we will flourish in the land.” You can hardly flourish where there is dispute and even when there is growth you will not get the best. Your walls of inspiration will always be blocked by contending forces. You can’t stay in an environment that has other things that are contending with the survival of your purpose. You can’t accommodate conflicting interest and expect productivity. You have to get rid of whatever will undermine your productivity. A person can’t have a successful marital relationship by keeping the company of those that will bring distractions to the relationship or those their spouse have serious misgivings about. Either you weed your environment of such influences or you create another environment.
4. The seed sown on good soil. The condition where focus and commitment are high. This is an environment or condition that supports the growth and realization of your purpose. An individual prepares his environment for productivity by having the following attributes:
a. Nobel heart. There is the honest pursuit to learn and know the truth. Cultivating qualities such as being righteous, virtuous, honourable, honest, upright, upstanding, decent, worthy, uncorrupted, moral, ethical, reputable, magnanimous, generous, self-sacrificing, brave.
b. Good heart. There is a commitment to follow and apply the truth. They are devoted to following through on principles that have been proven true to the exemption of others that couldn’t make the cut.
c. Patient and persevering heart. To stand for the truth in all circumstances. They do not allow the challenges of life to sway them from the right path. Come rain come shine, they are true to their word. They are patient and are not looking for short term gains and they persevere through thick and thin. A farmer keeps tending to his plants by weeding and watering it because he believes that it will eventually produce. This makes them reliable to others because people can depend on them not to jump ship when the weather is not favourable.
Growth, productivity, success, don’t just happen. They are enabled to thrive because the conditions available support their existence. Our environment might need to be changed, weeded or to be infused with inspiration.
• Have you evaluated the nature of the environment of your area of concern in recent times?
• When was the last time you challenged your thinking process?
• Have you considered how the culture of your people or association is enabling or inhibiting productivity?
• What are you going to do about the obvious weeds you have identified in your environment?
• What steps are you going to take about your environment in order to ensure that you are on the path of productivity?
Welcome to my blog. My name is Sam Akinpe. I am an author and a mentor on life transformation.
I will be using this medium to make available to you the opportunity and tools to enrich your life. This is important because you cannot give what you don’t have. Also, I will be posting insights that will enable you to live a meaningful life that enriches others. How can we change the world? One life at a time.
One key question that often comes to the mind of those who know that there is a purpose for their existence is this, “How can I make a meaningful or significant contribution to our world?”
We would be looking at themes that dwell on personal life change, growing your influence and building an enduring legacy.
I look forward to your comments and I will also be available to respond to your questions.