What Should I Do?

Becoming more familiar with a familiar question

by Nathan McElveney

[4 minute read]


“What should I do?” Can you think of a time when someone has asked you this question? Possibly it wasn’t asked in exactly those words, but you know the scenario: you’re towards the end of a lengthy conversation with a friend or a family member or a co-worker, and they’ve laid out all the pros and cons of each option, as they seek wise counsel and weigh up a fork-in-the-road decision… “so, what should I do?”

It’s a great question; it’s a ‘big’ life decision kind of question. It’s a question that, on occasion, is asked of all of us, and a question that we ourselves ask others as we navigate those ‘life-defining’ moments.

And I think herein lies a problem: We know how to ask this question when we see a big, obvious fork in the road, but are typically oblivious to the question, let alone the answer, when it comes to daily, mundane decisions.

What should I do?

Yet this is Christ’s call to discipleship, as Luke records for us in his Gospel:

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”[1]

I don’t know why Luke, unlike the other Gospel writers, chose to record Jesus’ use of the word ‘daily’ as he spoke to his disciples. But I do know that God deliberately included this word in the Scriptures, and I’m thankful, for the sake of our day and age, that He did.

What should I do? Not just in a once-every-five-years decision kind of way… but what is He calling me to today?

What should I do?

What if we saw our cumulative, daily choices as more life-defining than those few ‘big’ decisions? Personally, I find it relatively easy to make an occasional bold declaration of what I’ll do for the Lord; yet not so easy to make multiple, regular, smaller decisions to take up my cross daily. I can easily think back and recall that time I did a relatively grand gesture, made a reasonably big sacrifice for Him. It’s harder to think of an instance where I deliberately chose to take up my cross today.

Perhaps our lives are not so much impacted by a few big forks in the road as they are by lots of little daily forks – moments where we choose the path of discipleship, where we pick the option of taking up our cross.

We live in a world that promises a multitude of options. As leaders, we see multiple possibilities. But, if we’re honest, in the numerous small decisions, how often are we guided more by what we’d prefer to do than by what we should do?

When we think of being a counsellor in those moments to our friends, family members and co-workers, those of us who learned memory verses with an older NIV translation might be reminded of the section in John’s Gospel where Jesus promises to send us a Counsellor.[2] In our better moments, as we are a counsellor to others, we’ll remind His people that they have an indwelling Counsellor. The variety of translations of this passage helps capture the richness of the Holy Spirit’s role in our lives. He is our Counsellor, our Advocate, our Helper, our Comforter.

But note the context of Jesus’ words in this upper room discourse. The role of the Counsellor isn’t to advise us how to have our happiest life now, or to comfort us with the mod cons of the 21st Century.

The explanation and implication from the passage is that the Spirit guides us to testify to Jesus: to choose the hard, Christ-honouring thing; to persevere and to bring glory to Him in every moment; to desire the joy that we have in Him, which outlasts any hardship. In short, the Counsellor testifies to Christ, and calls and equips us to take up our cross daily as we follow Him.

As leaders, we make all kinds of decisions each day. But I wonder how many of my decisions, and your decisions, are truly a reflection of our daily cross-bearing?

Maybe now is a moment to pause, and join with me in praying this daily prayer:

Lord, there’s lots of things I could do today, and lots of things I might like to do today; but what should I do – what would You have me do today? Guide me, and help me steward well my focus and my time and my energy, for Your glory. Amen.

[1] Luke 9:23 (NIV)

[2] John 15:26ff