All the Places to Go … How Will You Know?

Missio Nexus’ leadership thoughtfully summarize books, giving you the Leader’s Edge to help inform, stimulate and provoke profitable discussion.

Leader’s Edge (Spiritual Formation)

All the Places to Go … How Will You Know?: God Has Placed before You an Open Door. What Will You Do?

John Ortberg. Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, 2015.

288 pages
ISBN: 978-1414379005


Very rarely in the Bible does God command someone to “Stay.” He opens a door, and then he invites us to walk through it—into the unknown. And how we choose to respond will ultimately determine the life we will lead and the person we will become. In fact, to fail to embrace the open door is to miss the work God has made for us to do. In this book Ortberg opens our eyes to the countless doors God places before us every day, teaches us how to recognize them, and gives us the encouragement to step out in faith and embrace all of the extraordinary opportunities that await.

Best Chapter

Chapter 1, “All The Places to Go…How Will You Know?” draws the reader immediately into the topic of determining the kind of life we live by the choices we make. Opportunities coupled with decision-making are presented in a balanced, helpful way. The chapter leads naturally into the related topics of the rest of the book.

Best Illustration

“When the Jesuit order began, they chose as their motto a single word that their founder, Ignatius, used to inspire heroic deeds: magis, the Latin word for ‘more.’ This simple motto captured ‘a broader spirit, a restless drive to imagine whether there isn’t some even greater project to be accomplished or some better way of attacking the current problem.’ Loyola himself described the ideal Jesuit as living ‘with one foot raised’—always ready to go through the open door. By 1800 it is estimated that one-fifth of Europe was educated by Jesuit-led schools. We were made for ‘more’; not to have more out of love for self, but to do more out of love for God.” Kindle location 857

Best Idea

“Every morning is an open door; every moment can become one. Some of us see the doors and seize them, and so life becomes a divine adventure. Some of us shrink back or fail to see. A room with no door is a prison. To fail to embrace the open door is to miss the work God has made for us to do. If we want to experience more of the Spirit of God in our lives, we need to train ourselves to look for and respond to moments of divine opportunity.” Kindle location 261

Best Take Away

“Very rarely in the Bible does God come to someone and say, ‘Stay.’ Almost never does God interrupt someone and ask them to remain in comfort, safety, and familiarity. He opens a door and calls them to come through it.” Kindle location 196

Our Recommendation

This book is not just for those beginning life experiences and needing guidance. It also helps the rest of us who are deep into ministry to know how to make good directional decisions that must be made daily. We heartily recommend the book as a companion to guide you into your future.

Best Quotes

“A door, Dr. Hawthorne said, is one of the richest images in literature. It can mean safety (‘my door is chained and locked’) or hiddenness (‘no one knows what goes on behind closed doors’). It can mean rejection (‘she shut the door in my face’) or rest (young mothers’ favorite room is the bathroom, where they can close the door and be alone). But in this passage a door means none of those things. Rather, it is an open door, symbolic of boundless opportunities.” Kindle location 83

“Columbia researcher Sheena Iyengar has found that the average person makes about seventy conscious decisions every day. That’s 25,550 decisions a year. Over seventy years, that’s 1,788,500 decisions. Albert Camus said, ‘Life is a sum of all your choices.’ You put all those 1,788,500 choices together, and that’s who you are.” Kindle location 135

“The ability to recognize doors—to discover the range of possibilities that lie before us in every moment and in any circumstance—is a skill that can be learned. It brings the possibility of God’s presence and power into any situation on earth.” Kindle location 138

“Open doors in the Bible never exist just for the sake of the people offered them. They involve opportunity, but it’s the opportunity to bless someone else. An open door may be thrilling to me, but it doesn’t exist solely for my benefit.” Kindle location 149

“But wait! There’s more. ‘Open door’ isn’t a phrase to describe just any opportunity. An open door is an opportunity provided by God, to act with God and for God.” Kindle location 204

“God’s primary will for your life is not the achievements you accrue; it’s the person you become. God’s primary will for your life is not what job you ought.”  Kindle location 226

This means a new way of choosing. I no longer have to live under the tyranny of the perfect choice. God can use even what looks like the ‘wrong door’ if I go through it with the right heart. Our lives are filled with doors.” Kindle location 241

“God says, ‘I have set before you an open door,’ not ‘I have set before you a finished script.’ An open door is a beginning, an opportunity, but it has no guaranteed ending. It’s not a sneak peek at the finish. If it is to be entered, it can be entered only by faith.” Kindle location 347

Abram is called to build his life on this offer: that he can receive a gift from God, but only if he allows his life to become a gift to others.” Kindle location 469

“Open-door people resist discouragement in the face of obstacles and persist in faithfulness despite long periods of waiting.” Kindle location 505

One of the most crippling myths about God is that he is like some human CEO, so busy running a vast enterprise that the activities of someone as small and insignificant as me must not be the object of his attention.” Kindle location 1049

“God’s primary will for your life is that you become a person of excellent character, wholesome liveliness, and divine love. That’s what words like godly and holy (which too often become religious clichés) point to.” Kindle location 1103

“In fact, when God calls people to go through open doors, what generally happens is life gets much harder. Abraham leaves home and faces uncertainty and danger. Moses has to confront Pharaoh and endure endless whining from his own people. Elijah runs away from a power-crazed queen. Esther has to risk her life to prevent genocide. The entire book of Nehemiah is arranged around resistance to Nehemiah’s work that is both external and internal.” Kindle location 1135

“‘If I Have Chosen the Wrong Door, I Have Missed ‘God’s Will for My Life’ and ‘Will Have to Settle for Second Best.’ This is a form of what social scientists refer to as ‘counterfactual thinking,’ where people who don’t like the outcome of one decision obsess over what might have happened in an alternative hypothetical scenario. The classic phrase is ‘If only . . .’ ‘If only I’d taken that job/dated that person/chosen that school/made that investment instead of this one.’” Kindle location 1227

“Superstition seeks to use the supernatural for my purposes; faith seeks to surrender to God’s purposes. Faith teaches us that there is a Person behind the universe, and that Person responds to communication just as all persons do. Prayer is the primary way we communicate with God, and that’s why prayer is so closely associated with seeking and discerning open doors.” Kindle location 1314

We make decisions, and then the decisions we make make us: what I say, what I think, what I eat, what I read, where I go, who I’m with, what I do, how I work, when I rest. Add up 1,788,500 little decisions, and what you get is a life. We go through doors, and what we find on the other side is the person we’ve become.” Kindle location 1354

“The biggest difference between people who flourish in life and those who don’t is not money, health, talent, connections, or looks. It’s wisdom—the ability to make good decisions.” Kindle location 1370

“Don’t wait for passion to lead you somewhere you’re not. Start by bringing passion to the place where you are.” Kindle location 1401

“We think having more choices means more freedom, and more freedom means better living. But having too many choices does not produce liberation; it produces paralysis.” Kindle location 1423

“People with small souls have small problems: how to make their lives safer or more convenient; how to put an irritating neighbor in his or her place; how to make wrinkles less visible; how to cope with cranky coworkers or lack of recognition. Small people are occupied by small problems. People who live with largeness of soul are occupied by large problems. How to end extreme poverty; how to stop sex trafficking; how to help at-risk children receive a great education; how to bring beauty and art to a city. You need a God-sized problem.” Kindle location 1449

“Everybody needs a door-selection committee. Get wise counsel. If you want wisdom, don’t try to obtain it all by yourself. Get around people whose character you trust, who have good judgment, who love you, and who care about your well-being. Tell them, ‘I have this decision. Speak into my life.’ Very often God speaks wisdom into us through somebody else.” Kindle location 1492

Does God ever have guidance for a particular decision? Of course. Does he have guidance for every decision? Of course not. I should be open to guidance—I should seek it and listen for it. But I shouldn’t try to force it, and I’m not to take it as failure if I don’t sense or receive it.” Kindle location 1552

Having second thoughts or buyer’s remorse is an inevitable part of walking through open doors. It is not fatal. It is not final.” Kindle location 1664

“Self-awareness is essential to the offer of an open door. Responding to the open doors God sets before us is a matter of not only being aware of what’s going on outside us but being aware of what’s going on inside us. Choosing which door to enter involves not just reading my circumstances but reading myself.” Kindle location 1974

“In order to choose doors wisely, you must become the world’s leading expert on you. Not in a self-absorbed way. There is a world of difference between self-awareness and self-preoccupation. You must become aware of how God wired you, of what your interests and values and aptitudes are. And you must become aware of those parts of yourself that you most wish to avoid. Discerning open-door opportunities around you requires awareness of the world that lies inside you. And lack of self-awareness is a crippling handicap that no amount of talent can overcome.” Kindle location 1979

There’s an old saying for travelers. A car’s headlights only shine for fifteen feet, but that fifteen feet will get you all the way home. God knows just how much clarity will be good for us—not too much, and not too little. We don’t follow clarity. We follow God.” Kindle location 2963

Leader’s Edge
Missio Nexus’ leadership thoughtfully summarize books, giving you the Leader’s Edge to help inform, stimulate and provoke profitable discussion. No portion of Leader’s Edge may be reproduced by any mechanical, photographic, or electronic process, nor copied for public use without the permission of Missio Nexus. Send a request to:

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