God-given desires are a form of communication from God, providing us with a roadmap we should follow. Discerning which of our desires are from God, and which of our desires are not, is the tricky part.
In his book, Whisper: How to Hear the Voice of God, Mark Batterson suggests that the language of desire is difficult to discern because we have mixed motives, and our ability to deceive ourselves is infinite. Patterson offers some “hard-learned lessons” that can aid us in identifying which of our desires are from God and those that are not. He calls them “warning signs.”
First, “leave your ego at the door.” When our ego takes the lead, our ability to read the roadmap God gives us to follow becomes impaired. Our ego causes us to compare ourselves to others, and such comparisons generate jealousy or pride. Neither jealously nor pride facilitates a close relationship with God, nor allows us to hear God clearly. Nor can our ego be counted on to compel us to do God’s will. When we are more concerned about ourself than doing what is right, we stumble. Even if we do the right thing, if we do it for the wrong reason we do not glorify God.
Second, “if you want it too much, you might want it for the wrong reason.” The reason you want something is a clue to whether your desire, or timing, is God-inspired or not. According to Batterson, wanting something too much may be an indicator that you are not ready for it. Why? Because it has become an idol in your life. Batterson concludes, “An idol is anything you desire more than God, and that includes God-given dreams and God-ordained callings.” In other words, when your desires become more important to you than your relationship with God, you’re not in a place to receive them even if they originated from God.
Third, “emotion is a great servant but a terrible master.” Practice the difference between reacting and responding so you can harness the energy of your emotions and apply them to God’s purposes without letting them control you. Anger or other negative emotions may have a purpose, but they often get away from us and become the tail that wags the dog.
Fourth, “one key to discerning whether a desire is God ordained is deciphering whether it waxes or wanes over time.” If you find yourself in a close relationship with God and your desire remains constant or strengthens over time, the likelihood is that it is a good thing and a God-given roadmap to follow. If your relationship with God suffers or if you don’t find yourself enjoying your relationship with God due to an unfulfilled or fulfilled desire, the likelihood is that your desire is not God-ordained or that it has become more important to you than your relationship to God.
And finally, Batterson suggests that “a little emotional intelligence goes a long way.” Emotional intelligence is like a sixth sense. As we grow in our relationship with God, our emotional intelligence will grow also. We will become emotionally aware, and better able to have empathy and recognize the needs of ourself and others.