How to Determine an Opportunity from a Distraction?

November 21, 2020

Life presents us with many paths. It can be challenging which direction to go when the options available seem similar. I have often been asked the question, “Would you be interested?” From starting a small group, joining a mission trip, or moving to another country this question is often followed by excitement or uncertainty. When I became a Christian I made a choice to follow Jesus. Some decisions are easier than others but I have learned a few ways to determine an opportunity from a distraction.

“One God-idea is worth more than a thousand good ideas.” – Mark Batterson

Pray – Prayer is how we communicate with God. It seems obvious that we would pray about opportunities that are being presented to us. However, I am guilty of asking a trusted friend what they think only for them to ask, “Have you prayed about it?” I cringe at that response but I know that praying is the first thing I need to do when given a chance to step into a new thing. I’m not talking about flippantly saying, “God what do you want me to do?” Here are a few questions to commit to prayer. 

  • How is this aligned to your plan for my life Lord?
  • Will this serve your kingdom and your purposes? In short, how will it bless others?
  • How will this affect my current situation? My family? My children? My finances etc.? 
  • Show me how this fulfills your word. In other words, show me how this open door aligns with scripture.

Does it align with the word of God?

God is not contradictory. God-opportunities align with his mission and purpose found in the Bible. You might be saying, yes but the Bible doesn’t have a section that outlines exactly my situation. It’s true that finding your exact situation might be challenging but it is worth digging in. If you are considering a new job do a scripture search for “New Job Scriptures.” I’m confident that one will stand out and resonate with you. God is not about confusion. If you seek to know His will and follow His plan, He will make it clear. 

Seek counsel from trusted friends.

When you are considering whether something is an opportunity or a distraction it is helpful to present it to a trusted friend. Be careful you don’t select someone just based on what you suspect they will say. In other words, if you dislike your current job and you really WANT this new opportunity to release you don’t ask your best friend who lives in the neighborhood of the new job. They will not necessarily give you an unbiased opinion. 

“Without wise leadership, a nation falls; there is safety in having many advisers.” (Proverbs 11:14 NLT)

Choose someone who you respect and who will be honest with you.

Does it align with your goals?

If you have a dream or goal that you feel God has revealed to you it is important to evaluate whether or not this new opportunity will bring you closer to it or delay it. Sometimes we have divine detours that teach us new things that ultimately lead to our goals but we have to be careful not to slow our momentum by saying yes to every new chance we are offered. Your vision or purpose that God has buried inside you is a very good guide to determine whether something is a God-opportunity or a distraction. 

Refuse to believe the TIME lie.

I squirm when a “chance of a lifetime” knocks on my door but has a deadline. I have to fight hard against the lie that if I don’t jump right away that I will NEVER have this chance again. God exists outside of time and space. His opportunities are not limited by a superficial deadline. It is important that we move into actively deciding whether we are going to move forward or pass. However, evaluate the timeline on the weight of the decision. For example, deciding whether or not you are going to serve at the food pantry tomorrow shouldn’t be a big decision. However, deciding whether or not you are going to move your family overseas to start a mission is a massive decision and needs ample time to confirm. I love the story of Gideon because he needed extra time and confirmation to step into a big opportunity. If you are facing a big opportunity, take your time.  

Being a follower of Jesus has opened so many doors in my life. Some have been God-ordained opportunities that led to amazing growth in my own life and the lives of those around me. Others were cleverly disguised distractions that led to frustration, delay, and unnecessary stress. I’m much better at determining whether it is an opportunity or distraction these days. I pray strategically and benchmark my answers against what I find in the Bible. If I am still unsure I ask trusted friends and evaluate if it aligns with my God-breathed goals and dreams. I don’t let time pressure me into making a rash decision. God gives me all the time I need to proceed with His plans enthusiastically and with confidence. How do you determine if something is a God-opportunity or distraction? If you found this helpful I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. Happy decision-making!

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