What does it take to live well? How do we live in a way that is meaningful, that is marked by healthy relationships, and that benefits the world in general?
The Jesuits have a term: “for the greater glory of God.” This states a foundational goal in all they do or set out to do. To give glory to God is to acknowledge that God exists, that God loves, and that God has created the universe with purpose and continues to create our lives, day by day. To live for God’s greater glory simply means that my life is in harmony with God’s overall purpose for humanity.
But I also want my life to be in harmony with God’s more specific dreams for my individual life. What does that mean when I’m trying to make my daily decisions, big and small? So often I’m not choosing between a good option and several bad ones. I may have three or four good options in front of me. How do I know which is best? Does one glorify God more than another?
First, I must be free from unhealthy attachments so that I can see clearly. When I know that I’m truly open to what the best choice is, I can ask a few questions.
- What are my natural gifts and inclinations? I may have a good singing voice, a knack for organization, or a healthy bank account—how does God want me to use what I already have? What God-given desires can guide me as I consider the different directions I can go?
- Where do the circumstances point? Sometimes one plan simply makes better sense, all other things being equal.
- Has God provided any obvious signs? Perhaps I’ve received the same advice from two or three friends independently. Or this particular opportunity coincided with a profound experience I had recently during worship or while studying Scripture. I have to be careful not to interpret everything as a sign, but sometimes events and details do converge in a way that appears inspired.
- What about the voice inside? I may be looking for outward signs while God is directing me to hear a quiet voice within. In some situations the Holy Spirit is teaching me to listen to the spiritual wisdom already forming in my heart and mind.
So often we are not truly free to live well. We are burdened with anxiety—Have I done the right thing? Or guilt—I’m sure I’ve messed up somehow. A steadfast purpose—“for the greater glory of God”—will provide the foundation for the practices that lead to freedom. We’ll loosen our unhealthy attachments and explore each possibility with reason, faith, and confidence. The more we attend to God’s signals in daily life, the better we’ll recognize them. The more we listen to the inner voice of the Holy Spirit, the better we’ll hear and understand. And the anxiety and guilt will fade away.
I hope you’ll read Chris Lowney’s Heroic Living chapter 9, “Live in Freedom.” You can view this chapter here:
These questions are his:
Have you ever experienced a still, small voice as you considered job or family decisions?
Do you have a sense of vocation or calling about any aspects of your life? If so, how would you describe that calling?