How do you know if God is calling you into something? How does one decipher the wooing voice of the Good Shepherd? Amongst all the noise and possibilities of what you could do, how do you determine what you should do? Or to ask it another way, “How do you hear God’s voice?”
For the first 21 days of January we’ve asked God, “How would you like me to invest in your Kingdom this decade?”
This is a question related to calling. We’re asking where God would have us serve Him for the next 10 years.
If this sounds like a hard question to ask, rest assured. It is! Rarely does God speak through burning bushes. God doesn’t visibly lead us in a cloud of smoke or a pillar of fire anymore. God certainly still speaks to us, but now we must utilize some Biblical principles to help deafen the background noise in order to hear the Father’s voice.
If you’re wondering how to distinguish His voice, here are 4 litmus tests.
1. Internal Desire
What do you think God has created you to do? What do you want to do? What Kingdom ventures excite you? What makes your heart quicken when you think about it? What do you think about when you close your eyes? All these questions will reveal your internal desires. They are crucial to understand because if you’re not desiring it, it’s likely God isn’t calling you to it.
Internal desire is important, but it doesn’t really matter what you want if you haven’t been gifted to do it. I’d love to be in the NBA; draining trey-balls and making fat stacks of mad cash, but I can’t even dunk on a kiddie hoop. I have zero gifts that match that desire, so I know that the NBA isn’t in my future.
If you have a desire to invest in God’s Kingdom as a GROUP leader for example, you can ask yourself, “Do I have the gifting to teach the Bible, facilitate discussion, and lead corporate prayer?” If there’s a combination of desire and gifting, perk up your ears. You’re getting closer towards clarity.
If God is leading you into something, He is going to open doors and provide avenues for you to live out your desires and gifting. Typically, those opportunities find you! When it comes to God’s Kingdom, I’ve never asked to do anything. Opportunities have always been offered to me, and that’s how I knew God was trying to move me. If God’s voice asks you to step into something new, there will actually be something new to step into. If there’s not, you may have misheard.
4. External Affirmation
This one may be most important. You can be almost certain that you’re hearing God’s voice rightly when godly men and women affirm what you think He’s saying. If trusted friends, mentors, leaders, pastors, or elders pray with you and for you and they see the same desire and gifting in you that you sense, it’s likely you’ve found a calling. God speaks through community. If you sense God’s voice leading you to invest in His Kingdom this next decade in a fresh way, invite godly people into the process. This is will either propel or save you.
Hearing God’s voice in prayer isn’t easy. It takes long, dedicated time in silence to cut through the distractions and sit with the Almighty. But I promise you, God is still speaking, and these four tests are hopefully helpful in hearing rightly.
A final thought. God has already clearly spoken through His Word. Therefore, listening for God’s voice will never be divorced from habitual time spent pouring over the Bible. The reality is, God isn’t going to call you to something that is alien to the Scriptures. For every time God has moved me to a new, different Kingdom investment, He’s always given me a handful of Bible verses with it. If you can’t tie God’s voice to the Bible, you’re not listening to God’s voice.
For further reading, check out C.H. Spurgeon’s chapter on calling in Lectures to my Students.