How can I know what God wants me to do with my life?
Vocation has to do with responding, as best we know how—some days pretty well and some days pretty poorly—to the prodding, urging, nudging, whispers which emerge from the Voice in the shrubs that burn in one's life. “Occupations” are how one lives out the whispers of a Voice, the nudging of a shadow. It might be that it takes the form of plumber or priest, banker or environmentalist, caregiver or caretaker.
The point is, it doesn’t matter which —it only matters how.
As Robert Frost would say to college students: “It doesn’t matter what course you take. Simply hang around until you catch the Spirit, or the Spirit catches you.”
—The Rev. Dr. Douglass M. Bailey
If we are talking about life in broad terms, the answer is fairly obvious. The call of God is always for us to live with noble purpose, with love as our highest motivation. We are in the world to develop ourselves to our highest potential and to make the greatest possible contribution to the world. Anything, therefore, that contributes to our total well-being and to the well-being of others is clearly the will of God.
If, however, the question is about what God wants me to do about the daily decisions of my life, the answer is not so clear. My own opinion is that God would probably want us to change the question—"What do I deep inside want to do with my life?" This calls in question the idea that God has a master plan for every life and all we have to do is find out the details. Nothing is left to me except to discover what has already been laid out for me in advance. This does not fit my idea of human freedom.
When God created humankind in the divine image, the highest expression of that image is the power to be a decision maker. In this sense, one is never complete, but is always being formed by the decisions we make. If this be true, God casts the responsibility on us to choose that which is best for us. These choices come inevitably from the judgments we make about what reflects our highest selves.
Each one of us is a unique person, with gifts, abilities and desires that give us the opportunities for creativity. To discover who we are and what those deep desires of our hearts mean gives us the clue to making decisions about what we do with our lives. If we choose wisely, we will experience the joy of growing a self and offering it as a source of strength to others. This does not mean that God is not with us in the critical moments of decision-making. Through prayer and meditation, we have access into the divine Presence that provides guidance and inspiration. God is never so pleased as when we stand up and make a moral decision that reflects our desire to live at the highest and most useful level attainable.
—The Rev. Dr. Brooks Ramsey
How do we know if we're following the right path in life? For starters, we need to remember that there is no one "right" path, that our spiritual growth depends less on whether we become a doctor or a school administrator, and more on how we make such choices. God has myriad ways of perfecting us.
That said, there are signs that can tell us about the wisdom of our direction. One clue comes from answering a simple question: Does what I do leave me feeling depleted, or does it energize and strengthen me? Even our "right livelihood" can wear us out, but it doesn't wear us down. The difference? When we are truly working from our gifts, we are engaged in the same sort of process that an expectant mother goes through. Like hers, our labor produces something living, a being with heart and soul.
Granted, this task of giving birth to our selves isn't easy, but it is work that fulfills rather than exhausting us. This life that is taking shape within us is literally "inspired" by God; it is he who gives it breath.
—Susan HansonInterpretation is one of the truly beautiful things about the Christian religion. True, God has decreed that certain mandates must not be broken (i.e., The Ten Commandments). Yet even if these are broken, a child of God will be absolved by asking for God's forgiveness.
Apart from the absolutes that God has handed down to us, He has also left each Christian with decisions about his or her life that must be determined by the individual. God does, in fact, know the path that our lives will take, eventually—He is the only omniscient being. But he trusts each of us to choose a path for our lives that is in accordance with his holy plan for us. If we stray from that path, God will try to lead us back to it. It is this sort of daily salvation that strengthens our bond with our Father.
I think it's difficult for most of us to know whether we're following God's Will or our own in our vocation. However, I believe that through prayer and by studying God's Will for how we should live, as shown through the example of Jesus, we eventually will push aside our own willfulness and get a glimpse of the direction God would prefer that we travel.
I feel inadequate to answer this question since I'm not sure I'm doing what God wants me to do. I do know there are certain things I'm supposed to do that I do not do. Scripture says that everything is summed up in the commandment that we love God first, above all else, and that we love other people as we love ourselves. Do that and you fulfill all of God's requirements (Matthew 36:37-40).
I used to read those verses and think doing God's Will was beautifully simple. Then I began to realize what this passage really means. I do not put God first in everything I do. I usually put myself first. That's exactly the opposite of what we are called to do. Christ is the ultimate example. He, who is Himself also God, put aside everything and was utterly selfless to the point of sacrificing his life for me. Wow. I'm a long way from being able to do that. Yet if I truly loved God with all my heart and soul I would be willing to do so.
Am I doing what God wants me to do with my life? In some areas, I'm making progress. Working on this Web site is a great blessing. I think God wants me to do things like this. I think God wants me try to know Him better. I find that I really do love God more and more as I learn more about Him. I truly believe God helps me when I try to put Him first.