By Janet Thompson, Crosswalk.com
You’ve had an idea for a long time of something you would really like to do. It tugs at the back of your mind in quiet moments when you’re driving, jogging, cooking, walking, gardening, or waking up in the morning. But you’re not sure if it's something God wants you to do. How can you know without a doubt that God will be on this big adventure with you?
I was in a similar position while in seminary. I was sure God had me enroll but I wasn’t sure what He wanted me to do when I graduated. I was working on a Master of Arts in Christian Leadership with a focus on equipping the laity, but I had no idea what to do with that degree when I finished.
I was confident it would be something in the business world since I had an MBA and was working in management. The only caveat I gave the Lord was “Please don’t ask me to work in women’s ministry,” where I had no gifts or interests—or so I thought.
Looking back, I see the Lord took me through the following 10 steps to guide me into the biggest leap of faith I’ve ever taken in my life. I trust that these steps will help you, too as you contemplate acting on your “stretch” idea that seems impossible but you just can’t shake.
Do you have your leap of faith in mind? Here are 10 steps to help you determine if your leap of faith is in God’s will:
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Step 1: Pray
Ask God to, “Show me Your ways, Lord; Teach me Your paths” (Psalm 25:4).
In 1 Samuel 14:36, we read that Saul wanted to go to war with the Philistines:
“Then Saul said, ‘Let’s chase the Philistines all night and plunder them until sunrise. Let’s destroy every last one of them.’ His men replied, ‘We’ll do whatever you think is best.’ But the priest said, ‘Let’s ask God first.’”
When we read the stories of some of the great men in the Bible like Abraham, Moses, and David, we see that when they prayed and asked God what they should do and followed his direction, they were always successful. But it was a disaster when they took off on their own.
“O Lord, please hear my prayer! Listen to the prayers of those of us who delight in honoring you.” (Nehemiah 1:11)
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Step 2: Listen
So often, we lay our requests before the Lord in prayer and then move on without waiting for God’s answer. Sometimes He answers right away, but other times He wants us to wait patiently on His timing. So we keep praying, listening, asking, and listening some more—until we feel His nudge to take the next step, or not.
“Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance.” (Proverbs 1:5)
“Then he [Jesus] said, ‘Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.’” (Mark 4:9)
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Step 3: Study God’s Word
God will speak to you through your Bible reading. Scriptures you’ve read many times will now have new meaning as you apply them to the venture you’re considering.
“Your word is a lamp to guide my feetand a light for my path.” (Psalm 119:105)
Step 4: Research
Read books, blogs, and articles on your topic. What do others have to say about it?
Seek wise counsel, but the key word here is wise. Talk to a wide range of people in the area you’re considering and ask questions. Resist only consulting people you know will tell you what you want to hear or will agree with you.
If you’re confused, run everything you read and hear through the balanced grid of what agrees with God’s character and commands.
“Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” (Proverbs 15:22)
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Step 5: Look for Confirmation
The more you pray, listen, read your Bible, and do research, the more you will hear the subject of your leap of faith everywhere you go: sermons, songs, conversations, blogs, social media, even TV programs and movies.
Suddenly, it seems like everyone is talking about what you’re considering. If this is God’s will for you, doors will start opening, and then you have a big decision: whether or not to walk through them.
In my experience, when you do, He keeps opening new ones.
“Confirmations that it is, in fact, I, God, the God of Israel, who calls you by your name...That I’ve singled you out, called you by name, and given you this privileged work.” (Isaiah 45:3-4)
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Step 6: Maintain a Support System
Be brave and share your big idea with trusted friends, family, small group members, and prayer partners. The more you talk about it, the more real it becomes.
But beware—there are going to be naysayers. Consider if there’s any validity in their comments, but also look for hidden motives to their negativity. Are they trying to protect you or prohibit you from moving forward?
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)
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Step 7: Consider the Sacrifice
Adding something new to an already full life usually leads to feeling overwhelmed, maybe even doubting if this is what God wants you to do. So think and pray about it: what will you be willing to give up to take this new leap of faith?
“Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.” (Philippians 2:15-18)
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Step 8: Ask Yourself, “What Is My Goal?”
What do you hope to achieve? When or how will you know if you’ve achieved it? Will it be ongoing and maybe change your or someone else’s life forever? Are you willing to change your goal, your plans, even your desires to achieve God’s goal for you?
“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12, 14)
Step 9: Check Your Motive
Are you taking this leap of faith strictly for your own benefit or for God’s glory? It can definitely be both, but always be sure your actions are pleasing to God. Any time you give of yourself in any capacity for God’s glory, the kingdom of God grows!
“As a result of your ministry, they will give glory to God.” (2 Corinthians 9:13)
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Step 10: Challenge Yourself, “Am I Willing to Persevere?”
Is your venture worth persevering in, even when it gets hard to keep moving forward? Even when there are obstacles? Even when you don’t see results or an end in sight?
“May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.” (2 Thessalonians 3:5)
I took these 10 steps almost 25 years ago when God called me to start the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry, a Bible-based ministry still active today. Initially, I didn't like it that God’s plan was different from mine. But it became clear as I took each step that starting Woman to Woman Mentoring (and later writing a Leader’s Kit to help other churches start a mentoring ministry) was God’s leap of faith for me. I had no idea that God’s plan was so much bigger than mine as He took Woman to Woman Mentoring around the world.
Sometimes fear stops us from proceeding. Fear that we won’t know what to do, or maybe fear of failure. But God says over 200 times in the Bible “Fear not.”
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)
Where is God asking you to bravely step out in faith? This could be the great adventure for which you were created. Wherever God leads, He will be in it with you. He will never direct you to go where He won’t be right beside you. It’s been true for me and I know it will be true for you as you take your God-guided leap of faith.
“For we live by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7)
Janet Thompson is an international speaker, freelance editor, and award-winning author of 20 books. Her passion is to mentor other women in sharing their life experiences and God’s faithfulness, which is the subtitle of her latest release, Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness. Everyday Brave: Living Courageously as a Woman of Faith is due out September, 2019. She is also the author of Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten; The Team That Jesus Built; Dear God, Why Can’t I Have a Baby?; Dear God They Say It’s Cancer;Dear God, He’s Home!; Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter; Face-to-Face Bible study Series; and Woman to Woman Mentoring: How to Start, Grow, & Maintain a Mentoring Ministry Resources.
Visit Janet and sign up for her weekly blog and free online newsletter at womantowomanmentoring.com.
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