Priorities: Discerning God’s Best

Hollyhocks

By +Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

(This is part three of a three part series. In part one, I explored the idea of When Good Enough Isn’t and compromise). In part two, I shared thoughts on when Good Enough is Good Enough. I look forward to hearing your thoughts!)

When I met my husband, I was teaching third grade, serving in the nursery at church, serving in the high school ministry, leading worship at a start-up church, attending a home fellowship and sometimes helping with worship there. I was a busy lady.

As our relationship grew, we spent more time together. One by one, God encouraged me to set aside these other ministries. He was preparing me for the ministry of marriage. Was it easy to step back from all these ministries? No! I loved being a part of every single one of them.

Serving at VBS 2

I had to choose. Was my relationship with my then-boyfriend more important, or was it more important to be serving in the various ministries I’d been a part of? Choosing to set aside good-enough for God’s best isn’t always easy.

God’s best looks different for each person because of season of life, family needs, and life issues. Figuring out how much time is healthy for us to spend on fulfilling the callings God gives us usually comes through making mistakes.

When I place writing as a higher priority than time spent with my husband and boys, I begin to feel stressed out. The boys act out, and my hubby sometimes begins to withdraw. And then we have . . . The Talk.

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The one where he has to find a way to gently tell me my priorities are out of whack. It’s always a hard conversation, but I’ve needed it a few times. He cares enough about our relationship to confront me when I need to re-align my priorities.

As I’ve learned to walk in the calling to write, I’ve had to give up other things. I’ve struggled with feeling guilty for stepping back from good things, like leading women’s bible studies.

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I’ve learned to say no to good activities so I can say yes to God’s best—which, for me, includes family and writing, in particular. I believe this is His calling for me for a few reasons.

  1. As I spent time with Him, He impressed it on my heart.
  2. He’s given me a passion for writing.
  3. I find great joy in doing this.
  4. He’s helping me to become better at it, and showing me that He’s using my words in the lives of people.

Knowing God’s calling has come through much prayer and talking with those who care about me. He confirmed this calling in unmistakeable ways.

Quiet Time

Determining God’s best for your life begins with spending time with Him. We need to talk with Him honestly about what His priorities are for us, and embrace them. Lots of activities will come along. We must determine if they line up with what God’s shown us. When we know our primary priorities, it’s easier to say no to the good things so we can say yes to the best things.

Big vine, little vine

What if God shows us a priority He has for us that we don’t want? That’s hard. We tend to rationalize why we shouldn’t have to do it. When we don’t understand why He’s asking something of us, we have a choice: to trust Him or to trust ourselves. It’s a struggle sometimes!

To not yield to His plan is to deny the best that He has for us. It requires a daily walking out this trust. It’s rarely easy to do the hard things, but it’s always worthwhile.

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Right now, my main focus of ministry is writing. If I’m asked to lead a women’s Bible study group, I pray about it. I ask God to direct me, and He usually does. When I’m not sure, I ask my husband. It’s helpful to have someone to talk with who sees the question with a different perspective.

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It can be a struggle to follow God’s plans. When He asks me to follow His best rather than what I want to do, sometimes it hurts. It requires me to trust Him, rather than myself. To say yes to His unknown plan and no to what I want.

Daisies in bloom

 

God honors our obedience. He blesses our decisions. Do I always know God’s best? No. I pray and sometimes, I make a mistake. But, God is gracious and works through my mistakes. I don’t think I’ll ever be 100% perfect at saying yes to God’s best, but as I grow in trusting Him, I think I’ll say yes to the right things more often

What about you? What are your thoughts about good-enough and God best? What would you add for discovering God’s best for you?

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20 thoughts on “Priorities: Discerning God’s Best

  1. I suppose I’m fortunate – I don’t have to worry about best or good enough. Under the current circumstances (which as I write this comment, are dreadful…Barb keeps having to remind me to wipe away the blood), the only thing I’m thinking of is what is POSSIBLE.

    Possible does not mean easy, or painless, or even remotely fun. It means what I feel I should be doing; if I can physically accomplish the task, it’s going to be done.

    How it squares with God’s plan, I have no idea. I have to support my wife as I can, and take care of the dogs; this is the first priority. The blog has to go on, as it has an important place in the hearts of many (and I’m just the instrument, there…not the Hand)., There are four novels ready to SP. along with two nonfiction “self-help” books, but I don’t have the energy to make them go. “Emerald Isle” is closest; it even has a cover! I figure if God wants these out there, He’ll give me a boost.

    But however it goes down (oh, and there are three WIP novels, too!) I have learned one important thing, and that is to recognize that there is a large gulf between what I want to do and what I CAN do, and that no amount of wishful thinking is going to bridge that gap. Hope based on an unrealistic assessment of one’s own forces doth not a tactical plan make, and sometimes all you can do is hold a position; taking the next ridge is not possible with the forces and logistics available. It’s easy to learn in a tactics classroom, hard to apply when your blood’s up and you feel you can walk through the bullets and not be harmed, and hardest of all when the battle is private, the enemy unseen, and the lost capabilities still well-remembered.

    I’ve learned mercy, and have learned at last to apply it to myself, and perhaps this is God’s very, very best for me.

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    • Andrew, you bring up an important point that sometimes it is about what is possible, do-able. When you get to the point where this is the main consideration, it whittles out everything that isn’t important. You’re in a unique place, Andrew. I’m amazed that you’ve written so much. And I hope to read at least some of your work sometime. Learning to give and receive mercy is one of the best gifts. I continue to pray for you throughout each day, my friend.

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  2. Everything you say rings true for me as well Jeanne. I’ve had to give up other ministries in order to spend time writing. It has been a sacrifice of my time not to work in other women’s lives. But as I pursue the call of writing He has placed on my life, He continues to provide the words, opportunities for growth and the resources I need.
    Thanks for sharing this thoughtful and encouraging post today😊.

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    • Kelly, it seems like when we know God’s best, it’s a little (not a lot) easier to say no to other things. I sometimes struggle with seeing my writing as a “ministry” because I don’t have a broad reach. But, God knows who He wants to reach through each of us, and that’s exactly where I want to be. Whether He sends my words to one person or to many people. There is peace in that, isn’t there?

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      • Yes there is. Hadn’t clarified that thought, but, the fact that I don’t have a broad reach has subconsciously caused doubt for me as well. Great thoughts Jeanne.

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      • Kelly, it’s so easy to define our significance by those pesky numbers, isn’t it? Just remember God has given you a gift for writing, and a desire to write for Him. May He continue to encourage you to fight through those times of doubt. 🙂

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      • Meditating on 2 Corinthians 12:9 today Jeanne. “I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift.”
        (The Message) Great stuff!

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  3. Great post Jeanne! Searching God’s best is sometimes a real struggle, and I’m not sure where it is. I just have to trust God to put it in front of me, maybe even so I trip over it. I’m impatient and want things to happen now, but have discovered that’s not always God’s best. Waiting on God, it seems, brings His best.

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    • Yeah, Mom. I soooo understand the difficulty in waiting for God to bring about His best. But, you’re right. When we wait God can and does bring His best to us. 🙂 Here’s to waiting . . . for both of us!

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  4. Just yesterday I had a “come to Jesus” moment with letting go of what I want. Wow. Your blog, and also some others, have shown me I need to trust His plans and not mine. Blessings on your day my friend.

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    • Oh Gail, those “come to Jesus” moments can be so hard, well, in the moment. But when we’re able to humble ourselves and begin to make the changes Jesus shows us, there’s reassurance in that. And yes, trusting His plans, even when we don’t understand, is the best route . . . always. Blessings to you too!

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  5. I like how you said what is best looks different for everyone. Sometimes its hard to be content with the season we are in, I want to make sure to be thankful for each space I’m given. I am learning to say no, so I can put my writing first. It feels scary and wonderful at the same time 🙂

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    • I know what you mean, Lisa. Sometimes our lives do look mediocre to outsiders. Thank goodness, the way our lives look in God’s eyes is what matters most. I’m proud of you for learning to say no. It. Is. HARD. I can’t wait to read more of what you write!

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  6. I got so tickled over “the talk” … oh, Jeanne! I never like those either. 🙂 And I usually try to justify all my actions … a little defensive. Yes. Stomp my feet a bit. Then … try harder to maintain a better balance. Oh, gracious. It’s tough.

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    • Yes, Shelli. “The Talk.” Never fun. I’m learning to let the defensiveness go and just listen. But, I’m not going to say it’s easy. I still struggle with that sometimes. Balance is tough. May we both learn to walk in God’s balance for our lives.

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  7. This so resonates with me! I was definitely a busy, social person before meeting Frank. Slowly, priorities reshifted and even if I didn’t completely give them up, commitments changed. Just this summer, I gave up a book club that I had been holding onto for about a year or so too long. It was just too hard to quit, but once I did, man! The relief!! I’m learning in this particular phase that everyday disciplines are a recipe for failure. So, I set goals with the big picture in mind, and take what I can get. Often frustrating, but not nearly as much so as when I made our schedule fit everything. I guess – all that to say – is that for me, God’s best looks a bit mediocre from the outside. It looks like a lot of hanging out and partially finished things. But, really, it’s me listening and letting go of the checklist. Of learning that things will get done sometime, but not necessarily in my time.

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    • Annie, it can be hard to let go of the schedule, of the things we think we should do, in order to embrace the things God wants us to do. I’m so glad you were able to step away from the book group and then know God’s relief!! Schedules are good, but I’m learning to keep mine written in sand. I’m praying for you as you prepare to welcome your second child. And re-learn what God’s best is for your family. 🙂

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  8. Hi Jeanne, I can so relate to this. As I’ve felt an increasing call to write, I have to manage and re-evaluate other priorities. Of course my husband and family have to be number 1. As a pastor’s wife, I have responsibilities, and I constantly bring them before God. I recently read another writer who encouraged her readers to relax and enjoy breaks from writing when that’s what God is calling them to. So I relax as best I can, and let go as best I can. I like what you say about how we learn our priorities when we mess up! So true. It made me smile.

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    • Betsy, it seems like it’s always about managing and checking what we think our priorities are and what God thinks our priorities are, doesn’t it? I completely agree . . . God first, family second, then come other things. And sometimes, that break from writing. I’m so glad you stopped by to add to the conversation!

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