Six Common Misconceptions about God’s Will

Question RoadWhere is God calling you? What is God’s will for your life?

I believe God has a unique assignment for each one of us-some way He wants us to bring His healing & His peace to those on earth. It can be confusing, can’t it? You want to follow God, but there are all kinds of voices, especially Christian voices, telling you which path to take. I’m growing tired of Christians making a ministry job the sign of a certain holiness that the practicing doctor hasn’t obtained. I’m tired of the question, “Where is God calling you?” because I believe we already have the answer to this question.

Sometimes the word “calling” feels like an excuse to float through life. Other times, I’ve heard it used by people who in some way feel like they need to defend their high-paying job to Christian peers. I really struggled with these questions when I moved home from China. I didn’t have a clue what God was “calling me” to and I prayed and begged for nearly two years-a prayer that quickly turned into, “what do you want me to do?? I’ll do whatever you tell me-just tell me something!” Have you ever felt that way?

Here are six common misconceptions about choosing a career path that I wish I knew long before last year:

1.) God’s will is a labyrinth. You need to make sure you don’t mess up and make the wrong decision. I’ve received messages from college students paralyzed with fear over their career path because as one girl said, “I just don’t want to choose the wrong path!” Here’s the truth: If your heart desires to follow God and you are seeking His will, you can’t go wrong. He gives wisdom and direction generously. (James 1:5) Remember, He is a good Dad not a cruel taskmaster waiting for you to make the wrong decision.

2.) There is only one right path/decision/career. If you need to make a decision, sometimes God doesn’t speak clearly and we are left frustrated. Confused. Michael faced this when deciding to move home from Germany. He prayed without ceasing, but after several months still didn’t know what God wanted for his next step. In these situations, God gives us wisdom to choose. Choose something! Don’t live in fear of making the wrong decision because it’s not always that clear-cut. Often times, God’s will is allowing us to choose.

3.) Ministry jobs are a higher calling than secular jobs. Truth: God needs bankers and lawyers and church workers and missionaries to build His diverse Kingdom. I left full-time Christian work for the business world. Each of us are required to “do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly” with God. And do whatever we can to make sure our peers, coworkers, and those around us know the God who sent His Son. FOR THEIR FREEDOM.

4.) You need to figure out exactly which career God has for you before taking a job. NO! Getting a job-any job-will help you in your quest to find the right job. Also, it’s ok if you take a job in your twenties and you decide two years later it isn’t the life for you. I don’t think you would feel as guilty if you didn’t have Christians running around saying, “but I thought ____________ was your calling?” God leads us down many different paths (I was a missionary & now I’m in publishing) especially if you consider the lives of many Biblical giants.  Side note: I highly recommend working before going back to school because it will help you clarify your job path.

5.) There is no turning back after not following God’s leading and making a wrong decision. Not true! Read Recalculating and God’s Plans if you are struggling with this mindset.

6.) Making a high salary is dangerous. We know the verse about rich men entering the Kingdom of God. We know the love of money is the root of all evil. But here’s the truth: if you love money and chase after it with clinching fists-it doesn’t matter if you have little or much, your misplaced desires will destroy you, not the money in itself. I will always be thankful for those with plenty, because their generosity made my years in China possible. You are free to pursue a job with a high salary! And if Christians look down on you, don’t let them make you feel guilty. Give generously & keep open hands on money that doesn’t belong to you anyways.

What do you wish you knew before making a career decision? Did any of my misconceptions help clarify a decision you are facing today? 

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29 Responses to “Six Common Misconceptions about God’s Will”
  1. Great post, Ruthie!

    I left a job I loved (and that was well compensated) to pursue ministry .. not because it makes me holier or even happier, but because it is what I felt God was asking me to do. I do not think I would have been emotionally or spiritually mature enough to be in vocational ministry in my 20s. So God took me down a road that would refine me to the point that I was ready. This is only my personal story…not necessarily applicable to anyone else’s journey.

    I think the biggest mistake I have made in my life is trying to figure God’s plan for ME….instead of me trying to figure out God’s plan and trying and how I might play a role in that. It is a heart issue of where I place the emphasis. I (and many others) make the mistake of making it more about me than it is about God. When God becomes bigger and I become smaller in my thoughts and prayers it is amazing how much easier it is to hear His call and obey!

    • Ruthie Dean says:

      Has anyone else noticed how much wisdom Leslie consistently has to offer?

      So true, Leslie! I hadn’t quite put my finger on the right words to communicate the bigger picture of discovering God’s will: it’s about the story of redemption He’s writing, not about us. How easy it is to make it all about us! Makes me think of the verse, “He must become greater; I must become less.” (John 3:30).

      Anyone struggle with making it all about them?

  2. Becky Monds says:

    So true, Ruthie! It is amazing (and shouldn’t be surprising but usually is to me!) how God uses our wrong turns to set us on the right path.

  3. Rebecca says:

    I agree on all points and would only add that God’s Timing is another overlooked factor. I know my calling is for ministry. However full time ministry isn’t in the cards for me right now. I have a 3 and a 5 year old and I need to work to help support my family. So I am content to work in childrens ministry at church, participate in my own ministry and wait until God clears the way for me to be use the way He is prepparing me to be used.

    Just because we know where God is calling us does not necessarily mean “Right Now!” What Leslie said is so true, I could not have been in childrens ministry in my 20’s. No way! I did not have the patience or the grace. You can’t force God’s will or timing and sometimes the best thing to do is follow your passions and gifts and God will use you where ever you are to fulfill His purpose for you. Be open to being the vessel and everything else is just details.

    • Ruthie Dean says:

      Yes, God’s timing is everything. I’m glad you’re focusing on ministering to your children and content with the situation God has you in now. So many think mission work or full-time ministry is the highest calling, but what you are doing NOW-loving and raising your children to love the Lord-is the highest calling, because that’s what God has commanded you to do. Thanks for sharing & I pray you continue to walk with Him-in every season He has for you.

  4. Anna Kaye says:

    Once again ruthie, you never fail to bring truth, insight and encouragement! It’s definitely a blessing when I look in my email and find a new blog post from you. Yay! I like what you wrote about Michael when he was trying to make a decision and kept praying but still no answer came and that he just had to choose. I definitely struggle with the fear of making the wrong decision. And it can be very frustrating when we don’t hear anything even though we pray without ceasing. It’s also hard when you have so many “voices” around you, like your spiritual leaders and christian friends offering advice and it just makes you more confused and hard to hear God’s voice.

    • Ruthie Dean says:

      Hi Anna Kaye! Oh yes. The many voices of spiritual leaders, well-intending Christians, & friends. I used to ask too many people’s opinions about decisions, btu now I try to stick to 1-5 people I would consider spiritual mentors. And I always go to God first and then Michael!

      I’m thrilled my blog has brought truth and encouragment to you! It’s a dark world out there, but we have Light to show us the way!

  5. Edward says:

    I liked this post a lot. =)

    • Ruthie Dean says:

      Thanks, Edward! Really appreciate you commenting and reading. And congrats on your new girlfriend! I hear she’s something else…and really knows how to fill out eHarmony profiles:)

  6. Anonymous says:

    I love to hear your thoughts on careers, as I’ve been thinking about it after I’m back from China. It’s so easy to have the misconceptions, even after living with you for a year~~ :-) Thanks for writing about this, I’m greatly encouraged, you know sometimes I like to ask “What I’m doing here? Why God put me here?” Are you sure you didn’t write this to me, dear?

    Recently, I’m trying to inspire myself with this verse: ” Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” Keep it up, love to read more of your writings!

  7. Anonymous says:

    forget to say this is Natalie, so you won’t be confused. :-)

  8. Anonymous says:

    What’s God’s career path then?

  9. leeleegirl4 says:

    Thanks so much for writing this.

  10. L says:

    Great post! I also found reading ‘Just do something’ by Kevin de Young really helpful when thinking about the next step. I think we can get so hung up about fitting in with God’s will that we forget His will is to make us like Jesus, and He can do that in whatever job we’re in.

  11. Adam says:

    Perfect timing Ruthie, as today I am going job hunting. I have fallen into the mindtrap of thinking that God has this one perfect job for me that will utilize every one of my strengths and give me a great wage, that I will jump out of bed excited to go to work everyday. Time for me to get over my fear and pride and go get a job so I can bring home some money for me and my lady! Even if its not “perfect.” Thank you for this post. You’ve hit the nail on the head for me.

  12. Bitia says:

    A friend just shared your website with me, and after 3 days of perusing I came across this post. This one hit right where I am, teaching overseas versus pursuing a graduate degree and feeling paralyzed with fear of making the wrong decision. I’m pressing on, just faithfully following the Lord. Thank you, Ruthie.

  13. Faithful says:

    I stumbled across this article and found it surprisingly helpful! After some things happened to where I couldn’t go back to college this fall and I got placed in a certain job where there is Christian influence all around me daily, I figured out that God was calling me to come to Christ. I answered the call, and now I’m stuck as far as where He wants me to go. I’m torn between several career paths that allow me to use my natural talents as well as my spiritual gifts. At the same time I’m trying to “be in the world, not of it” and “keep on the narrow path”, and “deny myself” as we are told in the Bible. There are so many things I try to obey but wonder if I’m not getting too legalistic as a new Christian. Not only that, but I see how my original major caused me so much sin, but the desire to do it is still there and I’m wondering if it’s just my own rebellion kicking in. I read my Bible daily and pray whenever I get the chance, but don’t feel like I’m getting answers or that God is speaking to me. And like one of the myths, I’m waiting for God to tell me what to do because I don’t want to screw it up and disappoint Him. Finally I’d like to conclude with the question: How do you know if God is closing the door permanently on something or if He’s just making you take a break from it until He feels that you’re ready to continue in it again?

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