Perhaps you are wondering,
What did God create me to do?
What is God’s will for my work?
Is there any way for me to know for certain that I am doing what He called me to do?
These are good questions to ask since knowing what God's will should be our top priority and spending time on anything other than what He thinks is important is not a worthy pursuit.
As you seek to discover God’s calling for your life's work, start by examining what you know to be God’s will for every Christian. While we’re often primarily concerned with God’s specific purpose for our lives, before we discover that, we must become aware of His calling for all His people.
1. God calls us to know Him in a personal and intimate way.
God is not some detached deity who created the world and then withdrew His presence. He is a person, and as such He desires a personal relationship with His creatures. Not just fellowship, but a deep, intimate love relationship between creature and Creator modeled by His relationship with Adam. Sin’s devastating effect on the human race at the Fall interrupted this idyllic relationship, but God has opened the door again for that kind of relationship through Christ.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:17-19)
God created a corresponding longing for intimacy in every human heart. Augustine said, “You have made us for yourself O God, And the heart of man is restless until it finds rest in You.” For those who love God, knowing Him is the most compelling longing in their heart. You can almost hear Paul’s passion in these verses:
I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:10-14)
God has promised that those who seek Him with all their heart will find Him and know Him.
2. God calls us to submit to His authority and be conformed to His image.
Because God is the Creator and sustainer of all, knowing Him demands a response of submission. Many people have not yet acknowledged His authority, but someday every person will: “At the name of Jesus every knee should bow” (Philippians 2:10)
Furthermore, when the human race rebelled against God’s authority, sin marred the image of God in every human being. But God loves His children too much to leave us in that condition. He is reshaping our character to be like Christ’s.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. (Romans 8:28-29)
As we grow in our knowledge of Christ, the Holy Spirit works in us to restore His image. He is gradually conforming our character to be like Christ’s. “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18, NASB).
As we recognize more of Christ’s character being formed in us, we begin to understand that God deserves to occupy the place in our hearts that He occupies in the universe: Lord of all. The desire to run our own lives is replaced by a submission to God’s authority over our lives—and until we reach this point, it is difficult (if not impossible) to discover His reasons for creating us.
3. God calls us to be involved in His work.
While God wants all men to know Him intimately, submit to His authority, and be conformed to His image, He also has a particular purpose for each of us. This is our individual stewardship responsibility on earth. Although we live in a fallen world, God has called us to take and reclaim territory held by the enemy and to be involved in the redemption of all creation, each of us with a specific task to accomplish. “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).
If we spend all our time preoccupied with the personal dimension of our relationship with God, we will miss a huge part of God’s will for our lives. We are called to do as well as be. These two aspects of the Christian life are inseparable.
And God's work is so much bigger than the activities we generally label as spiritual. All kinds of work is God's work. When we do good work, we participate with God in His work. And, when we do our daily work for God, it echoes praise as much as singing a hymn., whether we work as an engineer, educator, pastor, business owner, or welder, good work, done well, brings glory to God and blesses His world.
[i] Colossians 3:22-4:1; 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12
This article has been adapted from Bill Peel’s book What God Does When Men Lead.