While having a good job, earning a living, and making meaningful connections with others are all incredibly important components of a well-rounded lifestyle, these things should not become the foundation of who we are and how we seek our happiness.
One of the biggest dangers of allowing external factors like these to become the foundation of our lives is that very often these are things we don’t have control over. Although we can’t control the unexpected difficulties and events in our lives, we can control how we respond to them. We can look heavenward for direction, insight, and peace.
The key to happiness is taking control of our lives by consciously aligning ourselves with God. No matter what’s going on around us, we have complete and total control over what we choose to build our identities and our happiness on. By aligning with God, we build our foundations on the one and only “sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge.”10
As you learn about and implement each step in the Cycle of Spiritual Guidance, you will begin bringing all aspects of who you are and how you live into alignment with God. This alignment will become the foundation for a life filled with purpose, joy, and peace—even during those moments when it seems like everything is working against you. This is the foundation that will empower you to achieve your full potential; this is how you truly begin taking control of your life.
Discover your true identity
The first step in the Cycle of Spiritual Guidance is to recognize that you are a beloved child of God. This knowledge needs to be at the very core of who you are and how you live.
The Bible teaches us that God is intimately aware of each person on Earth.11 That’s because we are all His children. Pray to know and feel that this is true, that He loves you and cares about you, and that He is intimately aware of the details of your life. As you begin discovering your true identity as a child of God, there will be no more reason to rely on external factors to determine your identity or your worth. This knowledge will give you a powerful sense of confidence that will imbue everything you do with meaning and joy.
In order for all of this to become powerful in your life you need to believe it and know it in the depths of your soul. And one of the best ways to develop this type of deep-seated knowledge is to regularly set aside some time to pray, meditate, ponder, and reflect. I suggest making this a sacred time when you separate yourself from family and friends, unplug from social media, and put work and school on momentary pause so you can have some quality alone time with God. Use these quiet moments for self-reflection and prayer. This will help you know that you are God’s child, and will give you time to explore and develop your relationship with Him.
Trust your inner voice
In many ways, we are taught to distrust or ignore our emotions. We’ve been trained to assume that “acting out of emotion” is a fundamentally flawed or inferior way of making decisions. And while this is certainly true when our emotions compel us to engage in thoughtless, harmful, or dangerous behaviors, there are also many times when our emotions will actually lead us down wholesome and Godly paths. As Proverbs says, the heart “is the wellspring of life.”12
If you want to know God’s will, you need to pray and ask Him for guidance. But you also need to be sure you’re taking time to listen for His response. If you have a sudden thought or impression, or if you feel compelled to pursue one path or another, that could very well be God communicating to you through your inner voice. Sometimes, God will put feelings of comfort in your heart in order to nudge to do something. Other times, it may be a feeling of discomfort that’s trying to tell you to avoid something.
Learning to discern God’s voice, and being able to differentiate that voice from your own desires, takes time and intentionality. But doing so will bless your life with an underlying sense of peace and will help you move forward with faith, confident that God will guide you and direct you toward happiness.
Have faith to act right away
The more you learn to recognize the influence of God’s Holy Spirit, the more important it will be for you to follow through on what God is telling you. Responding to these moments of inspiration right away, without delaying, is an act of faith that demonstrates that you are in the game, that you have decided that standing on the sidelines is no longer enough. When you act on inspiration from God you demonstrate your gratitude for His presence in your life, your faith in His love, and your commitment to follow His word. When you trust your inner voice enough to act on God’s guidance, you show Him your willingness to trust in His timing and His plan, which ultimately allows Him to have an even greater hand in your life.
Be at peace with Heaven’s timing
Learning to be at peace with Heaven’s timing is perhaps the hardest step to follow. This is largely because we live in a now society—we’ve become so accustomed to immediate access and instant gratification that waiting for anything can sometimes feel frustrating.
But this is the step that really reminds us that we are striving to align ourselves with God, and that means that sometimes things won’t happen as quickly as we’d like them to or in the manner we’d like them to. Being at peace with Heaven’s timing pushes us to subsume our wishes and plans to the greater wisdom of God. It is an exercise in faith and humility.
There will be times in your life when you recognize a prompting from the Holy Spirit, and even after acting on it immediately, will still find yourself waiting for anything to come of your actions. When this happens it’s easy to start feeling like your attempts to be faithful have gone unnoticed. But don’t worry; God is aware of you. Remember that God’s ways are often not our ways, and His timing is often not our timing.14
Even if God’s timetable doesn’t match up with yours, listening carefully to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, having faith to act on those promptings right away, and trusting that things will somehow work out according to God’s sometimes mysterious timetable are powerful tools that will bring your life, your identity, and your will into alignment with God.
Living well is the point at which you move your faith away from merely talking the talk and begin actually walking the walk. An important part of living the Cycle of Spiritual Guidance is trying your best to live a good, moral, and Godly life. The Bible repeatedly teaches the importance of this sort of faithful living. James said that people of faith should “not merely listen to the word,” but should “do what it says.”15 The more you strive to live your daily life in accordance with the teachings of God’s word, the more you bring yourself into alignment with Him.
Living well will allow you to cultivate the discipline needed to move from the person you are today to the person you hope to become in the future. It will also bring you an abiding sense of peace and will fill you with the positive, loving, uplifting feelings that come from living a life that’s aligned with God.
One of the amazing things about this entire cycle is that it never ends. It is ongoing through every day of our lives.
In fact, each step of the cycle naturally feeds into the next: the more you live according to these principles the more you will develop your true identity. This identity will strengthen your faith in God. The more you have faith in Him, the more you will seek to listen to His voice and act on the inspiration He gives you, fully trusting in Heaven’s timing. Your faith will ultimately motivate you to live a Godly life, which will allow you to feel even closer to your “Father who is in heaven.”16 And the closer you feel to God, the more you’ll experience the unique peace and happiness that will confirm once again that you are a beloved child of God, at which point the entire cycle begins again. As the saying goes: wash, rinse, repeat.
Incorporating the Cycle of Spiritual Guidance into your daily life is an act of faith that pushes you to actively believe and trust in a higher power. Because this cycle requires you to turn a vague and abstract faith into real and concrete action, it is always a process of transformation. By living this cycle, you embark on an incredible process of becoming. You will begin developing a powerful sense of confidence not based on worldly measures such as professional success or how much money you make. This type of confidence brings with it a peace that is hard to describe.
The Cycle of Spiritual Guidance transforms the way you see yourself and the way you approach your day-to-day life. This is why it’s the first step in truly taking charge of your life.
Lead image from Shutterstock
Launching Leaders celebrates you as part of a new generation and gives you the tools you need to create your future. Discover personal development and leadership principles that make sense, and learn how to tie them to your faith. This book is filled with real, practical know-how that will help you examine where you are now, where you want to be, and how to get there.
Read this book and discover:
Your core values
A process for planning your life and charting a new course
How to find and adopt mentors
"The Formula" for success
How to create habits that empower
How to avoid living a double life
A plan to become financially fit
Ideas for giving back—now