Book Review: Just Do Something

just do something

“I feel like God wants me to be alone for a while.”

“I’m waiting for God to open a door to the right job.”

“If I choose this school, will I be going against God’s will for my life?”

We’ve all statements like these before. Whether it’s dating and marriage, the quest for the perfect job, what college to go to or where to buy a house, many Christians get hung up on the question of God’s will: Is it God’s will that I do XYZ? What is God’s will for my life and how can I know what it is? While it’s good to be concerned about living a life that glorifies God, sometimes we spend too much time navel-gazing when we really ought to just do something!

That, in a nutshell, is the point of Kevin DeYoung’s book, Just Do Something: How to Make a Decision Without Dreams, Visions, Fleeces, Open Doors, Random Bible Verses, Casting Lots, Liver Shivers, Writing in the Sky, etc.. DeYoung is greatly concerned about the “tinkerer” generation, those of us in the 35 and under age group who try a lot of different things, but commit to very little in the end. “Too many of us have passed off our instability, inconsistency, and endless self-exploration as ‘looking for God’s will,’ as if not making up our minds and meandering through life were marks of spiritual sensitivity… We’re tinkering around with everyone and everything. Instead, when it comes to our future, we should take some responsibility, make a decision, and just do something” (p. 15).

In this very short book, DeYoung reveals to his readers the heart of the issue: We make following God’s will far harder than it needs to be, because we’re looking for the wrong thing. Instead of looking at God’s revealed will of decree (meaning that what He ordains will come to pass) and His will of desire (what He desires from His creatures), we seek to divine His will of direction. DeYoung explains, “God does have a specific plan for our lives, but it is not one that He expects us to figure out before we make a decision…[W]e should stop thinking of God’s will like a corn maze or a tight-rope, or a bull’s eye, or a choose-your-own adventure novel” (pp. 24-25, emphasis in original).

We do this for a few different reasons:

  1. We want to please God, although our misdirected piety makes following Him more mysterious than it’s supposed to be.
  2. Some of us are simply, by our nature, quite timid, and prone to be too cautious.
  3. Some of us are searching for perfect fulfillment in this life, ignoring the fact that perfect fulfillment does not exist on this side of eternity. Because every experience and event must be rewarding, every decision in life takes on weighty significance.
  4. We have too many choices; we are overburdened by options and thus cannot make a decision for fear of making the wrong one and missing out. “Our freedom to do anything and go anywhere ends up feeling like bondage more than liberty” (p. 37).
  5. Finally, we might just be cowards. We want to know that everything is going to be fine before we do anything; but that’s not how God operates. We forget that God is all-knowing and all-powerful and He has planned out every detail of our lives for our good (Eccl. 7:14). “God doesn’t take risks, so we can” (p. 41).

Instead of being controlled by these ideas, and instead of treating God as though He were a Magic-8 Ball, DeYoung encourages us to remember that God has already revealed His will for our lives in Scripture: “For this is the will of God, your sanctification” (1 Thes. 4:3). The sum total of what we need to know about God’s will for our lives is that we are to grow in the image and likeness of Christ. To live holy, set-apart lives, being obedient to the Scriptures and thankful to God in all circumstances.

Seems so uncomplicated, doesn’t it?

I really appreciated reading Just Do Something, because I’ve been caught up in the question of God’s will of direction more than I’d care to admit and seen how unfruitful a pursuit it’s been for me. Instead of looking to the answer of what seems good to the Holy Spirit and to me (Acts 15:28), I’ve been prone to spend too much time looking for a clear and direct answer when there isn’t always one. This has been the big struggle for me in trying to lead our family, because I’m terrified to make a mistake. But, instead of being seen to be appropriately cautious on some decisions, I end up just being indecisive. And indecision only leads to irritation in the Armstrong home.

Kevin DeYoung has done the Christian community a great service by writing Just Do Something. This book is practical, witty and extremely helpful. If you worry endlessly about the question of God’s will, read this book—then, stop worrying, make a decision and just do something.


Title: Just Do Something: How to Make a Decision Without Dreams, Visions, Fleeces, Open Doors, Random Bible Verses, Casting Lots, Liver Shivers, Writing in the Sky, etc.
Author: Kevin DeYoung
Publisher: Moody Publishers (2009)

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  • Matthew Svoboda

    Thanks for the great review. I really want to get this book!

    • http://hardwords.wordpress.com Aaron Armstrong

      It’s definitely worth picking up and is at the top of my list for “go-to” books on this issue (which means I have to get copies for some dudes I invest in).

  • Le Petit Geant

    I don’t know how this book could be recommended by a Calvinist. Everything is pre-determined right? Why would a person ever worry if they are in God’s will?

    • http://seanchandler.net Sean Chandler

      Which one of the five points of Calvinism teaches or implies that everything is pre-determined?

  • http://hardwords.wordpress.com Aaron Armstrong

    Great questions, ones that are actually part of the reason the book was written.

    The reason I recommend this book is because it highlights the biblical truth of God’s sovereign will and how we should respond in light of it.

    Is God sovereign? Absolutely. Everything He ordains comes to pass. Are we expected to know every detail of what He has ordained for our lives before we make any decision in life? Absolutely not.

    Seeking to have God reveal His will of direction before making a decision, be it from a special word, a feeling or through some form of Gideon-esque divination, is an act of disobedience on our part. We don’t trust that “all things work together h for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28).

  • http://seanchandler.net Sean Chandler

    Preacher who spoke at our church this past Sunday (actually he’s probably going to be our pastor), preached on determining God’s will and he quoted from this book. …that’s two references to this book within three days…this could be a sign that the will of God is for me to read this book next.

    • http://hardwords.wordpress.com Aaron Armstrong

      Well, when you read Josh Harris’ foreward to the book, you’ll learn that it is indeed His will that you do… maybe.

  • Le Petit Geant

    If a person is worrying, it is not disobedience because it was God’s will for the person to worry. “Everything is ordained”…you said it yourself. If everything is pre-determined, then the worry is pre-determined and technically part of God’s will….according to what you’re saying.

    • http://hardwords.wordpress.com Aaron Armstrong

      God has ordained all things to pass, but humans are still responsible for the decisions we make. Peter’s sermon in Acts 2, especially verse 23, confirms this (”…this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men”).

      Belief that because everything is ordained by God, we cannot be said to be disobedient or sinful is a view you won’t find anywhere in Scripture (aside from where it’s being refuted in Romans 6) and no Bible-believing Christian holds.

      • Le Petit Geant

        I completely agree with your last paragraph, as well as the part where humans are responsible for the decisions they make. Notice it’s the decisions humans make, and not God.

        My intent was not to start a Calvinist vs Armenianist debate. My point is that when you make blanket statements like “God ordains all” or “God pre-determines everything”, people will draw blanket conclusions such as “Well if everything is pre-determined, then so is sin”.

        The other flag i’d bring up is the blatant throwing around of verses from the Bible to prove your argument….

        1. People can use the Bible for all sorts of purposes, no matter what they are trying to argue, to prove their point. Remember the crusades anyone? Let’s not forget Mormons and JW’s who also reference the Bible, as well as Muslims to prove their faith.

        2. Last I checked, this is a blog. This means that topics are open for discussion and dialogue. If you throwh your weight around like your answer is the be-all and end-all, it corrupts the purpose and the spirit of the blog. I’m not saying you’re doing that, but one could see that coming were this discussion to continue forward.

        Keep writing Aaron….you’ve both challenged and disconcerted me with various posts….and that’s a good thing.

        • http://hardwords.wordpress.com Aaron Armstrong

          Glad to have your very helpful feedback. And your two points are excellent reminders for me, because I do not want to come off as not being open to discusssion.

          I look forward to continuing to interact with you here. Have a great day!

  • http://www.srdesigns.ca Mrs_Strongarm

    I would like to know what constitutes throwing one’s weight around on a blog. Because if it’s thinking something is true and saying so repeatedly on your own blog, then most bloggers will just have to stop blogging right now.

    I also think it’s silly to call out a Bible believing Christian for using the Bible to support his beliefs. Christians should use nothing else.

    I also think that it’s a bit presumptuous to claim that a blogger’s own responses to comments “corrupts the purpose and the spirit of the blog”. And to follow that with “I’m not saying you’re doing that” is a cheap poke-and-run approach to argument.