Sometimes it’s difficult to understand exactly what God wants for our lives. According to John Piper, there are specific ways you can discern God’s will in the face of multiple good options.
During his weekly question-and-answer-themed podcast shared on his website, Pastor Piper answered a question from a listener named Vanessa, “How do I follow God’s will in the face of two good options?”
Piper took the audience back in time to illustrate how to tackle a decision when both options seem like the right ones when he was asking himself, should I leave seminary as a professor in order to take up a full-time pastorate?
First Piper points out that despite her actions, God’s sovereign will happen no matter what.
“His revealed will — his will of command, the will that he reveals for us — is what he tells us to do in Scripture,” Piper pointed out. “You should always pursue that — always.”
Yet, even when you are pursuing the will of God decisions might not always be as clear as you want them to be. When this happens, there are six things that Piper himself has used to work through decisions.
1. We make it our aim to be radically holy in every part of our lives.
2. We seek to be Bible-saturated, shaped through and through by Scripture.
3. We seek to know ourselves, the way God has made us, our spiritual gifts.
4. We seek to be aware of the needs of the world that we could touch.
5. We soak all of this in prayer every day for God’s wisdom and leading. Psalm 25 is especially valuable for this.
6. In it all, we live in a worshiping community of love, so that at every step along the way, fellow believers are speaking into our lives.
Exactly forty years ago, Piper found himself struggling to make a decision in regards to leaving his professor position to pursue full-time pastoral ministry.
As a professor at Bethel College, he found himself asking the questions: “Would I leave this very happy and fruitful job, and seek a pastorate, which I never had before? Those are two good options, right?”
“The urge is almost overwhelming,” Piper said about his call to pastor. “It takes this form: I am enthralled by the reality of God and the power of his word to create authentic people. And I believe, I really believe, that God has made me a vessel of his word, which when poured onto people, changes them in this direction.”
He shared how he wrestled with the decision, afraid that he would become easily despaired as a pastor.
Not only this but he would leave many things behind that brought him comfort as a professor at Bethel. Piper shared his notes from 1979, in which he described the things he would lose if he left his teaching role and became a pastor.
He would lose the simplicity of task and routine, the serenity of undisturbed hours, the quiet of his study, the collegial stimulation of fellow theologians, and the ease of having to reckon with no visible failure.
“But is this any way to make a choice?” he posed. “Great God, what is faith if not trusting you for the life-transforming work of your Spirit through the ministry of the word?”
Piper warned that even though there were many things he was to lose in regards to his comfortability, these were not reasons to not become a pastor.
He found that the desire to pastor did not leave his heart, and it became even more urgent.
“And in June of the next year, we began a 33-year pastorate at Bethlehem,” Piper concluded. “That’s how it happened for me. God is faithful. So, Vanessa, may he guide you. He will.”