How To Make Tough Decisions
Nearly everyone has faced the agony of an impossible decision. Do you ever wish that there was some kind of automatic decision-making device? Maybe it would be a computer program. Just type in the information, click “enter,” and bam! —there’s your decision. It’s obviously not that easy. So, what do you do when you’re faced with a tough decision?
- Pray. Prayer is essential. Praying about a decision is not the same as making the decision but praying will help to bring clarity to the situation. When you place a decision before God—sovereign, good, and in control—it introduces a sense of perspective. God will act. He will do what is best. Pray, and trust Him. Prayer is not a magic wand that brings a burst of fire and introduces an angelic host. Yet it is the God-ordained response to everything we may face in life.
- Choose honesty. Dishonesty is pandemic. Do not let dishonesty corrupt your decision making. It is cliche, but “honesty is the best policy.” It’s about integrity. Notice that there is a difference between choosing “honor” and choosing “honesty.” We may be deluded by a sense of “honor” that is nothing more than saving face, sparing ourselves embarrassment, or preserving a personal empire. These are the hardest decisions to make —decisions in which our character gets called into question, or a ministry that we’ve built faces public humiliation. What should you do? Choose honesty. Honor may come through honesty, but making a dishonest decision to preserve your idea of honor is wrong. Plain wrong.
- Decide in favor of love. If love is to be the defining characteristic of Christians, then it ought to have some play in our decision-making. So, how does this apply to those tough decisions? First, think about the people who may be affected by your decision. Then, consider how you can make a decision that shows them love. This isn’t about pleasing other people, be it a constituency, a congregation, or a family member. This is about love—patient, kind, truth-loving, believing, hoping, enduring love. Are there people who have wronged you? Love them. Are there people who have been mistreated? Love them. Is your family involved? Love them. Keep love front and center in every decision.
- Listen. I have observed that wrongheaded decisions are made when people are consumed with their own reputation, their own pet concerns, their own little world, and their own little ideologies. Listen to others, even the naysayers. Of course, you need to have thick skin. Don’t just capitulate to every critic, and cave at the slightest pressure. That’s not listening. Listening is being open to alternatives, understanding people’s concerns, and taking appropriate action.
- Consult wisdom. The best source of wisdom is God’s word. Make a decision informed by God’s wisdom. Apply these principles to your decision. (Be aware that making a decision based on a verse that has some remote, context-deprived connection to your situation is not wise.) Second, consult people who are wise. The well-know proverb applies here: ”Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed” (Proverbs 15:22). Choose wise counselors, not just a group of likeminded buddies (1 Kings 12:8).
You won’t please everyone, but you can please the only One who matters. Make your tough decision, and leave the rest to God.