Last week, I had to make a major decision regarding my schooling. I have been pursuing theological education since 2010. I received my undergraduate degree from Crossroads Bible College in Indianapolis, and I’ve been working towards a Masters of Divinity from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary since the fall of 2013.

It’s been very rewarding and fruitful studying all these years, and I am grateful that I have been able to do it…but, I am tired. It’s hard to press on. So, I looked into some different options in terms of my degree program. I found out that I can receive a Master’s of Arts degree in Christian Ministry with only a few more classes. This would mean less time and money to complete my education. At first, I was all in. Sign me up! But, then, I began to sense a pull in a different direction.

It seemed that God didn’t want me to make that change. Rather, the Lord wanted me to stick with my current degree. This was tough. I had a major decision to make, and I needed to ensure that I was hearing the Lord correctly; that this wasn’t just my own thinking. So, I began discerning the voice of God, and I want to share with five ways that process happened.

(1) Studying the Bible. I was preparing to teach from Matthew 14, the story about Jesus walking on water. At the heart of that account is the disciples’ trial and how the Lord wants to grow our faith in Him through them. I couldn’t help but think that God wanted me to persevere through my educational storm as a way to grow my faith too. God used His Word to say to me, “Hang, in there. Persevere through this. I am with you.”

(2) Prayer. You cannot discern God’s will apart from prayer. Once I began sensing a tug in a different direction, I immediately began praying. I didn’t receive an answer right away, but as I wrestled with God in prayer, I did begin to receive clarity on the issue.

(3) Christian teachers. God uses godly men and women to teach us His Word. As I prepared my lesson, the resources I was using were speaking to me. One particular sentence really stuck out when the man of God said, “We naturally want to avoid trial. We want the Lord to put an end to it, but that’s not always the way God works. He allows us to go through hardship because we will depend upon Him more and grow in our character through suffering.” That cut me to the core. I knew where God was leading.

(4) Inward conviction. I knew the answer all along. I couldn’t get it out of my heart. My flesh said, “quit early” but my spirit said, “keep pressing on and finish strong.” God used my conscience and heart to convict me as to what is right.

(5) Godly advice. This is a big one. Not long after I began wrestling with this issue, I received a phone call from the dean of the school. He encouraged me to keep going, and one thing he said in particular really struck me. “Our people need to see us commit to faithfulness” he said. “If we want them to be faithful, they need to see their leaders being faithful.” Again, I was convicted by God’s leading.

In the end, I found out that I am not even eligible to switch degree programs. I actually received false information. My only option is to continue on my current degree track and finish with the MDiv. This means, I was hearing the voice of God rightly all along. He was calling me to persevere and not to give up. I believe the whole experience was a huge test. As a result, I feel much stronger in my faith, and now I thank God that I heard His voice clearly.