The below is Lesson 9 from our Leadership Lessons series.
LESSON NINE: God’s way is always better than my way.
KEY QUESTION: How can we discern between God’s way and our way?
As a follower of Jesus, there’s no argument whose way is the best way.
God’s way is always the best way. Always.
As a leader (or human), the problem we have is trying to discern God’s way from our way.
This is a “God’s will” discernment conversation.
Think about the decisions you’ve made in the past. There were times your way and God’s way aligned. There were also times you knew unequivocally that your way wasn’t God’s way. You did it anyway, but you knew. Then there were times you believed your way aligned to God’s way, only to find out you were mistaken. Of course, there have also been times when you felt your way aligned to God’s way, but others disagreed.
So how do you know? How can we know when we are heading in God’s direction versus choosing our path?
Abraham: A Following God Story
I believe our answer may come from a quick study of Abraham. Abraham (or Abram, as he was initially named) is a biblical giant. He is considered the father of faith.
The first time God interacted with Abraham, he did so with an instruction. Here are the instructions God gave to Abraham:
The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.” – Genesis 12:1
I love this so much because it’s so ridiculous!
This is the very first interaction between God and Abraham. The very first time they chat. And God decides to give Abraham the worst directions possible.
Put yourself in Abraham’s sandals for a moment. Which way do you go? How do you start? Do you go left or right?
Do you know what Abraham did?
So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran. – Genesis 12:4
He just started walking.
God, I only want to know where you want me to go.
This is what we want, right? We want to follow God. We want to choose his way over our way.
Of course, the more obvious God makes his way known to us, the more quickly we’ll be able to choose it. Or at least that seems logical. If God would just tell us clearly where to go, what to do, and what to expect, we’d go.
Not so fast, my friend.
I’m not sure that’s true. On the contrary, I’m relatively confident it isn’t true. In many areas of life, God’s way is crystal clear. God’s providential will is clear. God’s moral will is pretty straightforward, too. Yet, we still lie. We cheat. We steal. And I don’t mean other people do these things. We do these things even though we have complete clarity from God.
At least in my life, I’ve concluded that following God is much more challenging than discerning where God wants me to follow.
Back to Father Abraham
Abraham starts walking. You can read all about his journey beginning in Genesis 12. God would appear to him along his journey, bringing new and additional promises, but no clear directions. Eventually – and I mean EVENTUALLY – Abraham arrives at a place called the Negev. It’s here where God says, “stop.”
God knew this was the destination the entire time! God could have just as easily told Abraham, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to Negev.” Or at least “toward Negev.” Or “start going west, and I’ll guide you from there.”
But no! God doesn’t give Abraham anything other than “land I will show you.”
Here’s why. Or at least why I think God did it this way.
You and God
Like Abraham, I believe God wants to do something through you. As a leader, spouse, parent, friend, coworker, and neighbor.
When you look at the journey Abraham took, it’s clear that before God could do something through Abraham, he needed to do something in Abraham. God needed to foster a deep relationship with Abraham. God wanted to gain Abraham’s trust.
That’s all God wants to have with you, too. God wants a personal connection.
God’s personal direction requires a personal connection.
Not to suggest a deep relationship with God will make all your leadership decisions simple. Not at all. You’ll still have doubts. But what you will also have is confidence in the one leading you. When you get it wrong, God’s grace will make it right. When you head down the wrong path, God’s guiding hand can correct your course. None of that is possible outside of a growing relationship.
That’s why Abraham’s relationship with God began with a long, long walk.
Following God can, at times, be painfully clear. When it’s not, be patient and take a walk with him. Listen quietly. Trust completely. Open yourself fully. If you want to follow God, he’s more than happy to walk with you. But a word of warning: He may focus more on being with you than where you’re going.