The following is derived from chapter 4 of my new book, Discovering Your Destiny.
Throughout the Bible we see that God is a God who speaks. He is not a distant God and He is not a silent God. He is intimately involved in our lives, and He communicates to us in a variety of ways. His written Word is the foundational way He speaks to us, and nothing He says will contradict the Bible.
But while the Bible has general instructions, commands, and principles that apply to all believers, it does not tell us the specifics of our destiny. There is no verse that tells us whom to marry, where to live, what job to take, or what our specific calling is. Therefore, it is important to cultivate an awareness of the different ways that He communicates with us.
God will speak into our character to bring refinement, He will speak into our relationships to bring restoration and health, and He will also speak into our destiny and purpose.
By studying the lives of biblical characters, we can glean many insights into how callings are given and how they are walked out. Scripture is full of examples of God speaking to people about their destiny. Below are some examples that we will look at in order to gain understanding into how the Lord might speak to us.
Joseph was destined to lead and rule in the land of Egypt during a critical time in world history. God chose to speak to him about his purpose through multiple dreams. These dreams did not spell out all the details of his calling, or the process it would take to get there. But they clearly showed that he would be elevated to a position of great authority so that even his siblings would bow down to him (see Genesis 37:5-11).
Like Joseph, God may very well speak to you about your destiny through dreams. Not every dream that we have is from the Lord, but dreams are a consistent way that we see Him speak to people throughout Scripture. When a dream is from Him, it will usually be vivid and have a clear ring to it with spiritual implications. If you have a dream that you think is from God, write it down so that you can pray into it and ask for interpretation.
Another thing that we can learn from Joseph is that when God speaks to us about our destiny, it does not always come with all the details. Often it will start general, and get more specific as time goes on. For example, you may receive a call to be involved in business but not have any idea what kind of business or with whom you will be involved. As time goes on, more of those details become evident as God continues to lead and other clues come into place.
David had multiple gifts and a multi-faceted calling. He was a shepherd, psalmist, prophet, and warrior. But his ultimate destiny was to be the king of Israel.
David’s calling came in a very different way than Joseph’s. While Joseph had dreams, David received a word from a prophet. While Joseph’s calling was general, David’s was very specific. The prophet Samuel came to the house of Jesse to anoint the person who would become the next king of Israel. To the surprise of everyone, David—the youngest, who was tending the sheep—was the chosen one (see 1 Samuel 16:1-13).
Prophecy is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and sometimes the Lord will use it to declare or confirm aspects of our destiny. Through the prophetic gift, Samuel was able to look at a shepherd boy and see a king. That’s what prophecy can do; it can call out the gifts and calling in a person, releasing them forward into God’s purpose.
There have been multiple times in my life when a prophecy was used to speak significantly into my destiny. Any time we receive prophetic words from people, we need to weigh them to discern if they are from the Lord. We also need to be aware that timing is a major factor in prophetic words coming to pass. For David, many years passed before his word of becoming king came to fruition.
Paul was called to be a great apostle in the early church, and to write a large portion of the New Testament. God spoke to him about his destiny through a sovereign encounter with the Lord Jesus. He was a vehement enemy and persecutor of the church, but his powerful experience with the Lord changed everything. Not only was he converted, but his calling as an apostle was given in this visitation (see Acts 9:1-18 and Acts 26:12-18).
Paul’s story teaches us that one encounter with God can change the whole course of our lives and set us on the path of our destiny in Him. Along with the Bible, history is full of “one eighty” testimonies like Paul’s. Don’t rule out the possibility of the Lord visiting you in a powerful way to declare your destiny to you.
Mary had a most unique calling. Her destiny was to be the woman through whom the Son of God would be born into the world. God chose to announce her calling to her through an angelic visitation. Gabriel appeared to her and told her that she was favored of God, and that she would be the one to carry His Son into the earth. How would this happen? The Holy Spirit would come upon her and cause her to become pregnant. Mary said yes and the rest is history (see Luke 1:26-38).
Mary’s obedience to God was costly. Though from heaven’s perspective she was highly favored, from earth’s perspective she would be known as the mother of an illegitimate child. Who would actually believe her story? Even Joseph was planning to divorce her when he heard the news, until God intervened in a dream.
This is a great example of how saying yes to our calling can often cause misunderstanding with people, especially those we love. When you have an undeniable encounter—like Mary did—you know that you are doing what God called you to do. But those around you who did not have the same encounter may question, misunderstand, or even oppose you. When this happens, we don’t need to react or seek to prove ourselves. Instead, we can follow in obedience to God and trust Him with the rest.
There are many other examples in Scripture of how God communicates to people about their destiny. Jeremiah was called through a direct word from the Lord. John the Baptist had words spoken to his father by the angel Gabriel before he was born. Esther’s destiny became clear as God “spoke” through providential circumstances.
All of the above examples show us that there is no standardized way that God may speak to us about our destiny. And it does not have to come in the form of an actual voice (although it may). As we pursue our relationship with Him, we can expect that He will communicate things that we need to know about our purpose, identity, gifts, and calling.