“Just Do Something!” might be a little too liberating for some

So, I recently finished Kevin DeYoung’s book “Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God’s Will OR How to Make A Decision Without Dream, Visions, Fleeces, Impressions, Open Doors, Random Bible Verses, Casting Lots, Liver Shivers, Writing In The Sky, Etc.”.

The title alone has it’s own paragraph in my post, but I can assure you that this little book is a quick read, and most people simply refer to the title as “Just Do Something”. This review I am writing is on behalf of Moody Publishers, who provided me a copy of the book and the permission to post a review of it. So here goes:

Quite honestly, I found this book to be a liberating counterbalance to the hyper-cautious and fearful notion that our day-to-day decisions can screw up God’s plan for our lives. I teach Sunday School at my neighborhood church, and I also am a pretty new Christian (4 years), so I definitely understand the desire to hit the preverbal nail on the head of God’s will– It’s a desire that I’ve found many very “green” or young Christians have. So I am fond of DeYoung’s description of God’s will as more of a circle outlined by scripture, as opposed to a single solitary dot on a massive span of sinful white space.

His point is clear: Scripture can point us to universal truths that will help us live within the sphere of God’s Will. We don’t have to wait for a giant sign in the sky to go ahead and apply for a job or declare a major in college. I get that. But while I found this book refreshing and liberating, I couldn’t help but be disheartened and uncomfortable with DeYoung’s downplay of the role that the Holy Spirit has in our lives.

One of the book’s key points (it’s stated over and over again, rather redundantly) is that moral decisions matter much more than non-moral ones. As in, if the decision is simply a matter of preference or connivence, but doesn’t hurt anyone, then it’s fair game. Because of this, DeYoung’s rhetoric tends to downplay the significance of life’s biggest decisions that simply happen to be non-moral. For instance, deciding who to spend your life with and what vocation or career path to take. He almost goes as far as saying that God doesn’t particularly care who you marry or what your job is as long as you’re living in moral obedience to the Scriptures.

Now, I get that this is targeted at a specific audience, at least, that’s what I think. I believe that part of the goal that this book has is to motivate sluggish or wish-washy Christians who are either too fearful to make a decision, or too lazy. The problem for me is this: I’m not that type of Christian.

Actually, I’m the opposite. I tend to need slowing down in my decision making. I tend to need a dose of discernment to curb my reckless action. I mean well, really I do, but I’m not comfortable waiting without making a move, so oftentimes I simply make a move, without consulting the Holy Sprit. So, if you are like me, this book may encourage your usual type of craziness, because it emphasizes the need for us to get up and act!– something which we may not need to be encouraged to do at all.

The issue I have with this book is that it’s author ends up reducing the will of God to obeying the Bible. In other words, it’s message is “stop worrying about your future spouse, career, or ministry calling and work on your personal holiness”. This strikes me as rather impossible, because I truly believe that our spouse, career, and ministry calling have a great deal of impact on our holiness.

The other thing I fear that this book does is absolutely trivialize the sincerity of those who seek God’s will in their “non-moral” or everyday decisions.

Because of DeYoung’s strict delineation of moral vs. non-moral or (in his eyes) “trivial” decisions, the role of the Holy Spirit becomes little more than helping us understand and obey the commands of Scripture. I got the sense that DeYoung doesn’t put much stock in having a conversational relationship with God in which He actually speaks to us about out lives. Now, I am a little bias, because he actually references one of mine and my husband’s favorite books entitled “Practicing the Presence” and calls it out as absurdity. Quite frankly, this rubbed me the wrong way. I mean, that book is a classic. It really is.

Personally, I have experienced the direction of the Holy Spirit about a lot of matters which may seems trivial, but end up being life-changing. For instance: whether to stop being a vegetarian, or what job to accept, or who to stop and pray for on my run through the city. Yes indeed, as I look back on my 25 years, I can see many instances of God’s guidance, presence and provision though a variety of “non-moral” decisions that brought me to where I am today. These were not matters of biblical obedience vs. sin, but God was certainly concerned and involved throughout the process. And quite honestly, I believe He wants to be.

Yes, there will be times when God says “go ahead and choose whatever seems best”, but many times He has a plan, and we, as believers with the indwelling of Jesus Christ through His Spirit, need to be conscious of every way He could use us, not just in the big moral decisions of our lives, but in every aspect of it.

To you readers, and especially you young and fearful ones who think God’s will is a tiny dot and are terrified of missing said dot, I say to you: Read the book! But do so with a grain of salt, knowing that God can be an intricate part of your life if you allow the Holy Spirit to guide you.

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