“What Do I Do With My Life?”: 4 Steps to Hearing God’s Will for Your Career, Relationships, and Future

Reading Time: 6 minutes

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image credit: James Whitley: The Gospel of Nintendo

“How can I hear God’s direction for my life?”

That’s one of the most common questions bedeviling young and old. Doubly-so during graduation season.

Cal Newport, a Computer Science professor who studies how people craft lives they are passionate about, has a lot of useful information on the subject:

On the “What should I study in college?” front, a few courses that can prepare you for life once you hit the real world:


But what do we do when we need specific direction on where to proceed next?

God can help with that.

Pastor Robert Morris shared a daily process for hearing God’s direction for your life in his book, Frequency. A process he explored further in this video:

(Hat tip: Ifeoma O.)

I wrote up the following after listening to Morris’ tutorial…..

Four Steps to Hearing God’s Direction for Your Life:

1)  Set a daily appointment with God.

2)  Quiet yourself and worship him.

3)  Read scripture and pray.

4)  Listen and write down answers.

1) Set a daily appointment to with God.

We make appointments to see the doctor or meet friends for lunch. Carve out some alone time for God each day and you’ll begin to hear his direction for your life.

2) Quiet yourself and worship him.

Sing praise songs to him during this reflection time. It doesn’t have to be audible; If you’re in a public place, you can cover these songs inside your head.

3) Read scripture and pray.

Open up a bible and read some scripture. Pick some verses or lean on a reading schedule that covers biblical narratives most enjoyable for you. Tell God what’s on your heart and mind. Ask for his advice on situations you’re facing.

4) Listen and write down answers.

Ruminate on the scripture you’ve read and listen to the thoughts that enter your mind. Write down answers to these two questions:

A) What is God saying to me through the scripture I just read?

B) What is God saying to me about the issues I’ve just prayed about?

When your focus is intentional, you would be surprised how much you can hear.

Recording thoughts on (digital) paper transforms abstract thoughts into concrete ones. It’s much easier to discern God’s direction and to act on it when you can see and read what you’ve just heard. With a ledger of God’s specific direction, you’ve got something you can refer to again and again.

Here’s an example of this process in action:

Say your reading during your appointment with God was Matthew 12:10-12 and you were praying for help dealing with a fear of standing up for something you believed in….

Matthew 12: 10-12:

“And, behold, there was a man which had his hand withered. And they asked him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days? that they might accuse him. And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out? How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days.”

A) What is God saying to me through the scripture I just read?

This verse is saying not to let the business of religion blind you to the essence of being a Christian. Act and think like Jesus would, instead of abiding by rules and formalities that govern behavior without considering ethos. The church was created to glorify God; man was not created to glorify the church.

B) What is God saying to me about the issues I’ve just prayed about?

God is saying I should not fear man. Be willing to take the right course of action even if I’m in the minority. In times of uncertainty, Christianity’s central tenets of loving God and one’s fellow man, above all else, are the prime criteria for choosing a solution, not establishment hierarchy.

Remember, God loves you more than you could ever love yourself. He wants you to hear his voice and run towards him. If you really value God’s word for your life, devote some time to listening to him. Give him the opportunity to lead you where you were meant to be.

Who better to receive counsel from?

There are a number of biblical examples of this routine bearing fruit…

The Rise of King David

Joshua and the Israelites (after leaving Egypt)

….and you can find a number of contemporary case studies on the value of seeking God’s wisdom during times of uncertainty.

That sort of guidance—in your career, relationships, life in general—is invaluable.

If you don’t hear much from God during this scheduled quiet time, It may be because you have yet to develop a relationship with him. Without an understanding of what God’s voice sounds like, you will struggle to pluck his word from the sea of thoughts that flow through your mind every minute. Like a friend you’ve known for years, you get a sense of how they think and operate and what behaviors align with their personality through dedicated experience.

If you’re looking for an immediate tailor-made answer from this post, I can’t help you there. I’m not omniscient and there exists no cheat code to skip some of the levels required to attaining true categorical satisfaction.

And that’s for the better, really, as the journey has as much value as the final destination.

If you’re searching for direction on where to head next, you almost certainly need preparation before you’re equipped to complete the journey. Given the precise answer to “What was I meant to be?”, many of us might drop everything and attempt to make that a reality immediately. In our haste to live our best life now, we’d embark on an ill-fated quest, too green to navigate the hurdles required to get there.

Like any good prospect, you need to be molded. Push too fast and you strangle a promising future in the crib before it has a chance to blossom.

A tangent here….

We see this “Danger of Prematurity” on a smaller scale with lottery winners and professional athletes. Flush with cash—but not the experience and cognitive safeguards to protect and appreciate it—they fall prey to the wolves around them, frittering away what seems like an inexhaustible pile of riches. They never developed the systems to handle rapid changes in financial circumstance, a natural progression that (should) occur over time if you’re moving through life with eyes wide open.

Lottery winners, more so than entertainers, are subject to this phenomenon because their wealth is unearned (unless you think number picking is a talent).

(Here’s a nice read on a man that did manage to hack the lottery:

Though young and inexperienced with real money, the first round draft pick still had to nurture his talent to reach the pro ranks. He was born with some ability, yes, but years of hard work was needed to scale that mountain. Even if prone to poor financial decisions, those athletes and musicians can respect the underlying price of their windfall, providing at least some impetus to smarten up before the well dries up.

Not so with lottery winners, who didn’t bear the struggles usually required to obtain wealth. When you fall in to money without developing the tools to manage it, foolishness is almost a given.

Genesis 3:19:

“In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”

Proverbs 12:27:

“The slothful man roasteth not that which he took in hunting: but the substance of a diligent man is precious.”

You get something without working for it and your sense of reality gets warped. Robs you of the satisfaction that comes from hard work as well.

That’s another reason why the self-esteem movement in parenting is so dangerous.

The 45-year old who owns a chain of restaurants knows the years of backbreaking work it took to realize that wealth; He’s less inclined to waste that cash when he gets it. The guy who lucked into ten million…..he’s the dude who thinks putting a petting zoo in his living room is a good idea.

Or they jump into private equity, without the circumspection conferred by having limited resources. They think their dollars are a measure of their I.Q., so they swagger on down to the investment quadrant….and lose it all.

Scrooge McDuck

If you host demolition derbies in your backyard, you’re probably a lottery winner. And maybe a redneck, too.

Rewards given before their time are more curse than blessing. A good God is wise enough to bring us along on a schedule.

God is not going to overwhelm you.  Maybe you’ll get an instruction to do “this” or go “there”. He will not reveal more than you’re ready to handle at the current time, as he doesn’t want you to get in over your head. He’ll start with a first step and then unveil more as you prove faithful.

Just as a new swimmer isn’t immediately tossed in the deep end, it begins by dipping your toe in the water.

And even if you’re agnostic or just not that attached to the idea of God or religion, the mere act of prioritizing regular contemplative alone time will generate forward momentum on the goals and problems you hold dear.

Give it a shot.

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