Knowing God’s Will: Intro
This is part one of a four-part series:
“How do I know what God’s will is for my life?” I think that question is intimidating for every Christian teenager. I think it is intimidating for the majority of Christian adults, too! I know it often is for me. At our annual student leadership meetings to prepare for the student-led Vida conference, there is always a point early on where the leaders need to solicit student volunteers to lead a teaching and discussion on various topics. One of those topics we address every year is, “Knowing God’s Will.” Inevitably, every year, the same response happens.
“Okay, next we have the “Knowing God’s Will” talk? Who would like to sign up to give that one?
Then, awkward giggles, chuckles, and a few “tee-hees.”
Followed by shout-outs, “so-and-so should do it—he’s smart.” Or my personal favorite, “I nominate so-and-so! She’s spiritual enough.”
NO ONE EVER WANTS TO TAKE ON THIS TOPIC.
The question makes all of us feel nervous and because it seems so mysterious and too difficult to answer clearly, we (myself included) are often tempted to just push it aside and treat it as more of a perimeter question that our students can figure out later (what, on their own?) rather than THE central question we really should be trying to help them figure out now!
Meanwhile, at the core of every person’s spiritual longing is a quest to discover who they are (identity) and the purpose for which they exist (vocation), i.e. God’s will for their lives. Students of all ages are really wrestling with this “quest,” for sure. But, those of you who work with high school students would probably agree that no where is the reality of this quest more evident year after year than in the 11th and 12th grade class. This should not come as a surprise, given the fact that one of life’s major transitions (arguably the biggest) and rights of passage happens at the end of high school when we graduate and head off to college. So, even though our students are not saying these words verbatim, I think the question that is really burning in their heart is, “what is God’s will for me?”
I wholeheartedly agree with the philosophy Bryant Myers lays out in his book, “Walking With the Poor,” when he says, “I believe that restoring identity and discovering vocation must be the focus of a biblical understanding of human transformation.” That is his core belief underlying his work with impoverished people and communities, but I also think his words capture the core belief of our philosophy on student development as well. This is also the main emphasis of our Character | Competence and Community | Initiative workshops we run for students, by the way.
So, we are seeking to take this topic off of the back burner, place it on the front burner, and crank up the heat! We hope this series can be a resource for you, making it easier or at least more possible for you to engage your students with a topic and a conversation that is certainly complex and challenging, but so very relevant to them. And if we don’t lead them to the truth in this area, who will?
QUESTIONS TO DISCUSS WITH STUDENTS:
1) How much pressure do you feel to figure out what you are supposed to do with your life? None? A little? A lot? 2) How important is it for people to be able to answer the question, “what is my purpose in life?” 3) Do you believe God has a “will” or a “calling” for every person’s life? Why or why not?