We’re Asking the Wrong Question

Henry Blackaby

From: Experiencing God (c) 1990,  B&H Publishing Group. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Jesus considered God’s will to be His highest priority (see John 4:32-34). Following God’s will is also important for you. Often when people want to know God’s will, they will ask, “What is God’s will for my life?” As one of my seminary professors, Gaines Dobbins, used to say, “If you ask the wrong question, you are going to get the wrong answer.”

“What is God’s will for my life?” is not the best question to ask. The better inquiry is “What is God’s will?” Because people are naturally self-centered, we tend to view the whole world””even God’s activity””in terms of our own lives. Of course, we want to know what we should do and how events will affect us. But that is actually an inverted life perspective. Once I know God’s will, then my life gains its proper perspective and I can adjust my life to Him and to His purposes. In other words, what is it that God is purposing to accomplish where I am? Once I know what God is doing, then I see what I should do. My focus needs to be outward on God and His purposes, not inward on my life.

Now, that does not mean that God has no plans for your life. He certainly does. He created you and He knows how your life can reach its maximum potential. The Bible says He wants you to live an abundant life and to be filled with divine joy. But the plans He has for your life are based on what He is doing in the world around you. He has a larger purpose in mind for all of humanity. His desire is for you to become involved in what He is doing to bring salvation to others. Discovering God’s greater plan helps you know what He wants to do through you.


Don’t Just Do Something

We are industrious people. We always want to accomplish something. The idea of doing God’s will sounds exciting. Once in awhile, someone says, “Don’t just stand there””do something.” Sometimes individuals or churches are so busy carrying out plans they think will help achieve God’s purposes that they don’t bother to find out what He actually wants. We often wear ourselves out and accomplish little for the kingdom of God.

I think God is crying out to us: “Don’t just do something. Stand there! Enter into a love relationship with Me. Get to know me. Adjust your life to Me. Let me love you and teach you about Myself as I work through you.” A time will come when action is required, but we must not short-circuit the relationship (Ps. 37:7). Your relationship with God must come first. Out of your walk with God, He accomplished His plans for the world.

Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me” (John 15:5). Do you believe that without Him you can do nothing? Sure, you can keep yourself busy. You can immerse yourself in activities, programs, meetings, and events, but they will not have any lasting value for God’s kingdom “¦ If you are experiencing a time of spiritual dryness in your life, you may be trying to do things on your own that God has not initiated. However, when you abide in Christ, you will be amazed by what God accomplishes through your life.

God wants you to gain greater knowledge of Him by experience. That’s what abiding in Him will do for you. He wants a love relationship with you and He wants to involve you in His kingdom work. He alone can initiate His plans. He wants your involvement, but you cannot do it for Him. When you believe Him and do as He directs, then He will accomplish His work through you.

Jesus had advice for those who wearied themselves trying to do things in their own strength: “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. All of you, take up my yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30).

A yoke was an instrument built for two oxen working in tandem. Often farmers would pair up an experienced animal with a younger ox. Thus the younger one could learn from the seasoned animal. Jesus’ invitation is for you to join up with Him””to walk alongside Him and follow His lead. When you labor where He is already at work, He accomplished His purposes through you. The experience is not meant to be exhausting or burdensome, but exhilarating and fulfilling. Sadly, the chronic ailment of Christians today is burnout, particularly among pastors and those in Christian ministry. They grow weary doing things for God in their own strength. Yet Jesus promised that those who walk alongside Him and work with Him will find rest in their souls. God has more than enough knowledge, power, and resources to accomplish whatever He desires. Our involvement””at His invitation””is a privilege that should invigorate us and keep us close to Him. If you are worn out or stressed out by your “Christian duties,” perhaps you are not properly yoked to the Master.


God Pursues a Love Relationship

Some people have suggested that God gives us general direction and then turns us loose to work out the details of our lives. I disagree. God’s intention is to have a love relationship with each of us. We get ahead of ourselves when we try to discern a life plan up front. Some folks want the security of deciding if they will be a businessperson, a school teacher, a preacher, or a nurse. They want to know if they should settle in their home country or go to Japan for decades or move to Argentina. But God doesn’t necessarily lay everything out that way. He may place you in one job at one location for an extended time, but God’s assignments come on a daily basis. You should always be open to whatever He has for you””even if it’s not something you have foreseen.

God calls you to a relationship in which He is Lord””where you are willing to do and be anything He chooses. If you respond to Him as Lord, He may lead you to do things you would never have dreamed of. If you don’t follow Him as Lord, you may lock yourself into a job or assignment and miss something God wants to do through you. I’ve heard people say things like: “God called me to be a _______, so this other opportunity couldn’t possibly be His will.” Or “My spiritual gift is _______, so this ministry couldn’t be God’s will for me.” We tend to seek things that keep us comfortable, but God is not restricted by our fears. He sees beyond our current limitations and is constantly leading us to grow into the person He knows we can become.

Nowhere does the Bible teach that God gives us a life plan and then abandons us to work it out. Rather, the pattern and emphasis in scripture is a daily walk with Him in which He gives us new assignments and then works through us to accomplish them. That is what a spiritual gift is””a supernatural empowering to accomplish the assignment God gives you.

Don’t focus on your talents, abilities and interests to determine God’s will. Instead, seek God’s will and watch Him equip you for whatever assignment He gives. I have heard so many people say “I am good at ________; therefore, it must be God’s will.” That kind of thinking is self-centered. Since Christ is Lord, our attitude should instead be: “Lord, I will do anything Your kingdom requires of me. Wherever You want me, I’ll go. Whatever the circumstances, I’m willing to follow. If you want me to meet a need through my life, I am your servant and I will do whatever you ask.”


From: Experiencing God, (c) 1990  B&H Publishing Group. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Henry Blackaby serves as a special consultant to the presidents of the North American Mission Board, International Mission Board, and LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. He is a popular speaker and writer whose study course Experiencing God has sold more than 3,000,000 copies.