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Johnnie Moore: What Am I Supposed to Do with My Life?

Guideposts editor Rick Hamlin reviews the new book by Johnnie Moore that will inspire everyone to find the answer to one of life’s toughest questions. 

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How well I remember asking that question when I was young: “God, what am I supposed to do with my life?” What am I supposed to be? What kind of career should I have? What is my calling?  Where should I live?

Johnnie Moore is barely into his thirties but he addresses the question in his new book with a maturity beyond his years, and whether he realizes it or not, his thinking and advice is good for people well beyond their twenties. Because the truth is, people of all ages ask themselves, “What am I supposed to do now, Lord?” In fact, it’s a question you shouldn’t stop asking.

Johnnie worked for a dozen years at a large university, and as he says, five days a week, he was dealing with minutiae and the existential demands of leadership but then on Sundays, he was a preacher, leading worship.

It is that very combination of practicality and spirituality that makes Johnnie a dependable guide. For instance, he is visibly impatient with people who simply wait for the Lord to tell them what to do. “If God told us everything, we wouldn’t need God. So he doesn’t, for our own good,” he writes.

“God gives us the ability to make choices and the information we need to make good ones. When we relinquish that ability and push the choice back to God, we are virtually giving up that freedom, telling him that we do not appreciate the gift he has given us. This is neither honoring to God nor beneficial to us.”

Of course Johnnie believes in praying for help and discernment, but it’s prayer on the go. He uses Paul as a model, pointing out that the peripatetic apostle didn’t wait until God showed him exactly where to go and when; Paul just went until God stopped him.

“God’s will is more about going till he stops you than waiting until he starts you,” says Johnnie.

He sees our own inner discontent as a gift. “It’s discontentedness that reminds us to dream again, to go after God’s will again, to dig down deep and stay committed for the long haul. It’s discontentedness that promotes the possibility of change, and it’s discontentedness that rouses us from the ease of the everyday.”

Johnnie criticizes his own generation for their unwillingness to commit. “We have a hard time just staying in one place, doing any one thing, for any period of time. And what are the results? Shallow faith, weak relationships, short attention spans, more stress, lack of stability in family life, poor physical health, and bad work ethic, among others.” No pulling punches there.

He would say that his own success comes from sticking in one place for a dozen years. “It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you pick one place and one goal and just stick to it for the long haul.”

Recently he left the groves of academe for the challenges of Hollywood, taking on the chief of staff role at Mark Burnett and Roma Downey’s production company.

(Note to Johnnie: I have worked at the same place for 30 years now, and every day I learn something new and find new challenges. No wonder I think your advice is good!)

The book has a subtitle, God’s Will Demystified, which is why I think it’s for more than just the vocation-searching twenty-something. As Johnnie points out, growing in faith means developing a series of habits that strengthen us.

“The more decisions you make,” he writes, “the more you’re prepared to make bigger ones and the more you’ll understand the process that leads you to making a decision when you come to another crossroads.”

At some point, at any age, we all need to step out in faith. And that means taking action. “Faith grows through taking steps of faith,” Johnnie writes, “and faith chooses an attitude of optimism when everything seems to discourage it.

“Faith is required in nearly every moment of significant change in life, and God requires more faith when you’re ready for it. Faith challenges you to flex your spiritual muscles beyond what you think you can bear, but God knows what you’re capable of bearing…Our challenge is taking the leap; it’s God who steps in to catch us and carry us back down to solid ground.”

I’d take that leap with Johnnie Moore any day.

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