Have you ever had an idea that was so good you couldn’t stop thinking about it? An idea so good you wondered whether it was from God?… a God idea.
A question I get asked a lot is, how to know if an idea someone has is from God. It’s a great question. What makes it great is that the person asking the question recognizes that there are some ideas that may be great but aren’t from God.
You might be wondering, does it really matter if an idea is from God or not? Like if the idea is good, then it’s still worth pursuing right?
I got you covered.
In this episode, I break down:
- Characteristics of good ideas,
- Characteristics of ideas that come from God, and
- How to discern between good ideas and God ideas
What Is An Idea?
Before we talk about good ideas, I want to make sure we’re on the same page regarding what an idea is.
An idea is a suggestion or a plan for doing something. Ideas solve problems; they fulfill a need.
Ideas are everywhere and they are in abundance. Whether we realize it or not, we formulate tons of ideas every single day. Not every idea is good but more importantly, even if the idea is good, it doesn’t mean we should pursue it.
What Makes An Idea Good?
All ideas are not created equal. Before we discuss the characteristics of a God idea it’s worth exploring what makes an idea good in the first place.
1. It solves a problem
A good idea is one that usually solves a problem. It can solve a problem you are having or it can solve a problem for someone else. Here are some.
Before she was convicted of defrauding investors and sentenced to serve eleven years in federal prison, Elizabeth Holmes founded the billion-dollar company Theranos. Elizabeth was afraid of needles so blood testing was always a challenge for her during doctor visits. Typically, multiple vials of blood are taken whenever someone needs medical testing for something. To eliminate this, Elizabeth had the idea to create a way to conduct medical blood testing using a single drop of blood from pricking your finger.
Sounds a lot better than having to get a needle stuck in your arm filling up multiple vials with blood, right?
In 2009, Garrett Camp and Travis Kalanick wanted to find a way to reduce the cost of direct transportation after Garrett and his friends paid $800 for a private driver to take them somewhere. From there, the idea for Uber was born.
In 2008, as a way to earn money to pay their rent and provide housing for young designers during a design conference in San Francisco once hotels were booked, two friends came up with the idea of renting out their living room and providing air mattresses for guests. From there, AirBNB was born.
In each of those examples, there was a problem and an idea to solve the problem that manifested into something great. Good ideas solve problems.
2. It's achievable
Another characteristic of a good idea is that they are typically achievable. They must be capable of being done. Now, I’m not saying all achievable ideas are good. What I am saying is that if you come up with something that cannot be done or that isn’t possible for you to carry out, then that likely isn’t a good idea. It doesn’t allow you to do what you need or want to do.
This is where Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos messed up. What they wanted to accomplish was not possible. Many people with more experience explained to Elizabeth that we are years away from having the technology capable of running numerous tests from a single drop of blood. Essentially, they were communicating that her idea, though noble, was not achievable.
3. It excites you
The final characteristic that I want to share about good ideas is that good ideas will typically excite you. Good ideas have a way of stirring up excitement and getting you stimulated for the execution of it.
Before we segway into discussing God ideas, I want to bring some important things to your attention about good ideas.
- First, good ideas come and go. They are literally a dime a dozen. Have you ever met someone who can come up with good ideas all the time, and on the fly? They typically aren’t earth shattering, but they are good. They are solid, good ideas.
- Another thing I want to mention about good ideas is that anyone can adopt a good idea. The idea isn’t specific to the person so anyone really can execute it. Usually, the person who comes up with the idea isn’t in any better of a position to execute the idea than anyone else. Have you ever heard someone say that they had an idea for something that they told a friend or family member, and the person they told stole the idea and executed it successfully? Yeah? Well, that’s because the idea can be executed by anyone. Anybody could have founded Uber, anyone could have started AirBNB.
- The last tidbit I want to leave you with as it pertains to good ideas, is that good ideas can be contrary to the word of God and will of God in some form or another. An example of this could be something like, someone having a novel idea of an elevated strip club. It might be innovative, but it’s absolutely contrary to the word of God.
God ideas are ideas that come to you from God. They’re straight from heaven. Sometimes these ideas are meant for you to execute and sometimes they are intended for someone else to execute.
1. God ideas persist
God ideas persist and stay with you. You can’t shake them. I often see people attempt to suppress the ideas God gave them. While they may succeed for a period of time, they can never seem to get the idea out of their head. The reason this happens is because God will use multiple attempts to get a message to us.
2. God ideas cannot be adopted
When God gives you an idea it’s yours. No one can give it to you or take it from you. It may seem to you like the idea God gave you would be better executed by someone else, but ultimately you are the person who is uniquely positioned to execute it. Kinda like how Moses swore up and down that his brother Aaron should be the person to lead the Israelites out of Egypt because Aaron was the better speaker. But the truth was that Moses was better positioned to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. Aaron could assist, but he could not adopt the idea and assignment God gave to Moses to demand the release of his people and lead them out of bondage.
This is why it’s sooooo important to keep your blinders on and focus on your own paper and stay in your own lane. It can be tempting to think that just because God calls you into a lane that other people are in, that it means you shouldn’t be there, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
On the flip side of that…
...if you decide not to pursue the idea God gave you or if you execute the idea in a way He explicitly said not to, He will find someone else to do it.
A great example of this is the story of Saul and David. Saul was anointed as king by the prophet Samuel and was supposed to be king the rest of his life. During Saul’s reign, God would give him specific instructions to do certain things. On one occasion, God told Saul, through the prophet Samuel, to go to war against a certain people and utterly destroy them and all of their livestock. That was the order.
Saul went to war against them. He kills all of the men, women, children and poor quality livestock. He leaves the king alive and the best livestock. If I had to rate it, I would say that Saul was about 85% obedient, and we know that partial obedience is complete disobedience to God.
As a result, God rejected Saul as king of the Israelites and then entered David as his successor. All in all, it’s great to be useful to God and to be able to co-labor with him in the execution of an idea and assignment that he specifically gave to you, but understand that you are absolutely replaceable if you decide to go rogue.
3. Require Interdependence
God ideas require interdependence and collaboration. You cannot execute a God idea alone. Ideas from God tend to naturally expose our weaknesses because they are bigger than anything we could imagine ever being capable of doing. This isn’t by accident. God wants us to rely on Him. It is in our weakness that God’s power is made perfect. He longs to multiply and enhance what we have. He desires to show up and show out in our circumstances.
God also wants us to rely on each other to execute the ideas he gives us. He created us to be interdependent. There is a John Maxwell quote that says, “One is too small a number to achieve greatness,” and I completely agree with that.
God strategically created us to be interdependent upon each other. There are many scriptures that speak to our need to collaborate. Proverbs 27:17 talks about how iron sharpens iron. Ecclesiastes 4:9 discusses how two people are better than one, and three are even better than two. When you get an idea from God, ask him to raise up a people to help you fulfill the vision because you will need it and he will provide it.
4. God ideas are related to your future and your purpose
God uses everything. The ideas he gives us are sometimes stepping stones to your purpose. Other times, they may even be directly related to your purpose. Pay close attention to the ideas you receive from God and ask him how they relate to your destiny.
5. Consistent with God’s word
God ideas are consistent with His Word. They will never be contrary to God’s word or His will. We know this to be true because God is not the author of confusion and he is not a man that he should lie. Numbers 23:19. God ideas are always in agreement with his word.
How to Know If An Idea Is From God
Now that we’ve explored the differences between good ideas and God ideas, let’s talk about how to know if an idea is from God. My goal here is to give you two concrete avenues to focus on. If you focus on these two things, I’m confident you will have a clearer picture of where God is leading you.
1. Use wisdom
The first tip I have for discerning whether an idea is from God is to use wisdom. Wisdom is the ability to make spiritually informed decisions. Decisions that are guided by the spirit of God. Wisdom gives you an edge on everyone else. There is a scripture in the Bible that says, “…the advantage of wisdom is that it brings success.” Ecclesiastes 10:10, CSB
If you’re listening to this and you’re wondering how to get wisdom, the answer is simple. Simply ask for it. James 1:5 in the NIV says, “[i]f any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”
The living bible version says it a different way. It says, “[if] you want to know what God wants you to do, ask him, and he will gladly tell you, for he is always ready to give a bountiful supply of wisdom to all who ask him; he will not resent it.”
Pray and ask God to tell if the idea you get is from him. Ask him to help you hear the voice of His spirit as He guides you. God speaks to you through his Spirit all the time. Pray that you become sensitive to His voice and hear him clearly. God honors your desire to please him and do his will. He will answer you. I pray this information helps you better understand the difference between good ideas and ideas that come from God.
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