“What’s God’s will for my life?” I’ve asked that question and heard that question asked a thousand times in my ten years as a pastor. It’s a go to question I deal with when talking to middle school, high school, and college students.
Kevin DeYoung insists that the answer to the question is as simple as his title. How do I know God’s will for my life? “Just do something.” At first blush that answer sounds as reckless as it does callous.
But DeYoung builds his case scripturally that a faithful Christian life is not a life waiting to hear the whisper of God about what parking spot to take, school to choose, career to select, and spouse to marry. Instead, again and again, scripture frames the will of God in terms of the character of God. What is God’s will? The fruits of the Spirit. In DeYoung’s words, “God's will is always your sanctification.”
Obsessing over choices God wants us to make actually shackles us from living in the freedom of God’s purposes. DeYoung says, “The only chains God wants us to wear are the chains of righteousness--not the chains of hopeless subjectivism, not the shackles of risk-free living, not the fetters of horoscope decision making--just the chains befitting a bond servant of Christ Jesus. Die to self. Live for Christ. And then do what you want, and go where you want, for God's glory.” Applying Christ’s words, it sounds like this, “Seek first the kingdom of God, and then trust that He will take care of our needs, even before we know what they are and where we're going.”
I hope this strikes you as thoroughly biblical as it strikes me. DeYoung encourages us that stepping into God’s will in this way is incredibly freeing. He says, “We walk into the future in God-glorifying confidence, not because the future is known to us but because it is known to God. And that's all we need to know. Worry about the future is not simply a character tic, it is the sin of unbelief, an indication that our hearts are not resting in the promises of God.”
DeYoung concludes, “So the end of the matter is this: Live for God. Obey the Scriptures. Think of others before yourself. Be holy. Love Jesus. And as you do these things, do whatever else you like, with whomever you like, wherever you like, and you’ll be walking in the will of God.”
Some reviewers have pushed back at the book because it feels like it trivializes our relationship with God and discourages prayer. I understand why they feel that way, but I think the truth isn’t that it diminishes a vital relationship with God, but rather that it calls us into a relationship with God in the ways he most desires. What percent of my conversations with God are wrapped up in myself and a sort of spiritual naval gazing? Is this of some use? Sure. But what percent of my conversations are wrapped up with the things that Jesus’ communication with the Father appears to be wrapped up with: the glory of God, righteousness, others, the kingdom of God? Understood properly, DeYoung’s scripturally ought not push us away from God, but deeper.
DeYoung’s style is refreshingly direct and the book is a great fit for the young audience who will likely be particularly drawn to the topic. However, I diverge with what I would consider a pretty clunky version of gender roles that seeps out in a number of places in the book. DeYoung doesn’t make an argument for these roles, but there are a number of passages where I wish he was more thoughtful.
Undoubtedly, DeYoung’s short and pithy Just Do Something will be a go-to book for me when counseling others struggling with the question of God’s will. It combines a wonderful combination of being scriptural, clear, and practical.