How to Help Teens Find God’s REAL Will for Their LIves

Obsessed With God’s Plan

I’m sure that I’m not alone in my spiritual searching. I became a Christian when I was a teenager and I was consumed with the question, “What does God want from me?” It came to me quickly as a person with people-pleasing tendencies. Once God opened my spiritual eyes to the truth that He is a personal being and has authority in my life, then the next logical question was: How do I make God happy? But I quickly became confused about seeking out the answer because I assumed God had one plan. One purpose. One use for me. My mission was to seek it out and do it.

I also assumed that I would know God’s will by having this absolute confidence. I thought that is what people were describing when they said, “I have a peace about this decision.” The “peace” seemed to indicate to me that they have rejected all other possibilities and had locked their eyes and heart onto one and only one possible course of action. Whether it was about dating relationships, financial decisions, educational decisions, etc. What I’d come to find out years later is a freeing and sometimes scary reality:

God doesn’t have A Plan.

The Three Wills of God

If you’re a youth leader for more than a minute then you’ll have a teen ask, “What does God want me to do?” Here is where you have the awesome and gut-wrenching responsibility to walk with a teen in teaching them that God doesn’t have a single plan for their life.

TFD.com describes will as a desire, purpose or determination, especially of one in authority. We typically say God’s plan or purpose instead of God’s will. Whatever you call it, there is confusion among Christians about what we actually are talking about when we talk about God’s will .

Leslie Weatherhead, a Methodist-trained pastor back in the day, provides a clear and concrete description of God’s will by dividing it into three concepts:

1. The intentional will of God—God’s ideal plan for humans.

2. The circumstantial will of God—God’s plan within certain circumstances

3. The ultimate will of God—God’s final realization of his purposes.

Let’s take a deeper look at each of these and how they relate to a teen seeking God’s will for their life. To dig deeper into each concept, we’ll reflect on God’s will as it relates to Jesus. After that we’ll apply it to the practice of spiritual direction with teens.

Intentional Will

Weatherhead writes:

It was not the intentional will of God, surely, that Jesus should be crucified, but that he should be followed. If the nation had understood and received his message, repented of its sins and realized his kingdom, the history of the world would have been very different. Those who say that the Crucifixion was the will of God should remember that it was the will of evil men. (The Will of God; Chapter 2)

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Paul Sheneman
Paul Sheneman is an author, speaker and youth pastor. He serves with the Macedonia Methodist Church in Ohio. He drinks way too much coffee for his own good. His main interest is exploring Christian formation. You can follow most of his ramblings on his blog at www.discipleshipremix.com or on Twitter @PaulSheneman.

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