3 Questions to Ask Before Starting Something New
I admit that I can be impatient and impulsive. When I get excited about something, I want to start right away. Whether it's business or ministry opportunities, vacation plans, or the newest health fad, I want to jump right in with both feet.
Other times, I immediately dismiss an opportunity in front of me because it doesn't excite me or maybe it even scares me. My default in this situation is to drag my feet, avoid thinking about it, and hope it goes away. (If I can't see you, you can't see me... right?)
Either way, I am excluding God from the decision-making process.
I have learned through experience that I can save myself from future frustration and disappointment by asking myself a few questions before I say "yes" or "no" to something new.
Is this God's idea?
This should be an obvious first step but sometimes we miss it. Just because something excites us, doesn't mean it's for us. Every great opportunity may not be the right opportunity for you. We need to be willing to wait for God to affirm whether it's something we should do or not. Sometimes God affirms opportunities for us that seem like more than we can handle. We need to be willing to surrender our insecurities and trust Him.
In the Message version of the Bible, Proverbs 3 starts with the heading "Don't assume you know it all" and I love this translation of the frequently quoted verses 5 and 6:
Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
he’s the one who will keep you on track.
Learn to hear God's voice in your daily life and He will give you the wisdom and direction you need to ensure you are following His path for you instead of every exciting opportunity in front of you. Or maybe like Noah, you have been given strange instructions and you need to trust that it's His idea.
Is this God's timing?
Just because something is God's idea doesn't mean right now is the right time. Sometimes God speaks things to us to plant seeds or make promises. He wants to give us a vision for our future or to guide us along a specific path. A common example of this would be knowing you want to be a mom. Right now might not be the right time, but God has given you a desire to have children one day. Maybe God wants you to go back to school or change careers or start a ministry. Get clarity from God about whether or not He means now or later.
Take Sarai and Abram as an example:
Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had not been able to bear children for him. But she had an Egyptian servant named Hagar. So Sarai said to Abram, “The Lord has prevented me from having children. Go and sleep with my servant. Perhaps I can have children through her.” And Abram agreed with Sarai’s proposal. (Genesis 16:1-2)
God promised Abram and Sarai that they would have children. They decided that they didn't want to wait for God any longer and took matters into their own hands. God redeemed the consequences of their choices, but their disobedience caused more problems than were necessary.
Is this God's method?
When we miss asking this question before we start, things can go south real quick. "The end justifies the means" isn't how God rolls. The method is just as important as the end game. 1 Peter 1: 15 says: "but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct." If the method or the measures we take to reach our destination go against the holiness of God, we are in opposition to God.
Even if our method seems good to us, if it isn't in line with how God wants us to use the opportunity He gave us, we are in disobedience. In Numbers 20, God tells Moses that if he speaks to a rock, God will make water pour out of it for the people to drink. Instead, Moses struck the rock twice with his staff. Water still poured out of the rock, but God was displeased with Moses' lack of trust. There were consequences to Moses changing the method.
When our method is not in line with God's will, it shows our prideful self-sufficiency. We think we can do it our way, without Him.
Whether it's a small choice or a big opportunity in front of us, we must be willing to humble ourselves and come to God to ask: Is this Your idea, Your timing, and Your method?
Another way to approach this is to ask ourselves: "Am I willing to do what God wants, when He wants, how He wants?" When we get to the place where we can honestly answer "yes" to ALL of that, we begin to understand how to fully surrender our lives to God.