Decision-making is difficult for many people. You have to choose what to do, when to do it and how to do it. For Christians, we claim to believe that God has something to do with our decisions, or at least we hope He does! Yet Christians also make lots of bad decisions, or mistakes.
Our decisions at times seem almost worse than people without faith, because “we should know better, right?” Unfortunately, sometimes we should.
Some “Christian” decisions to a person who doesn’t live by the Bible would appear foolish, rash or illogical. Yet others call this “living by faith.” You just make a decision, do it, and trust God to work it out. Really??
Again, for Christians, these kinds of ‘missteps’ are almost embraced as “following the Spirit” or “trusting God.”
People who have the kind of personality that is uncomfortable with decision-making, may choose to decide nothing. They sort of just go with the flow. “Whatever will be will be and I’ll just choose to believe that everything is the will of God and then I don’t actually have to make any choices.”
Realistically, you are responsible for your decisions- all of them. Even those passive ones in which you choose to make no decision and just let it happen, actually you have made a decision; that decision is to do nothing.
There are some ways to improve the quality of your decisions and find the will of God in your decisions. Let me share some of them with you.
First, make value based decisions. What are your values? What is important to you? Many have never thought about that. If you have a history of bad decisions, I suspect you have inconsistent values. As a follower of Jesus Christ, your highest value must be to please God and do what is right in God’s sight. It is quite difficult to end up in a mess if your decisions are primarily based upon pleasing God.
Second, use some common sense. Everyone has the capability to think rationally. Make good decisions by evaluating options based on your values, based on your capabilities at this time, based upon your available time, based upon the commitment involved, etc. Making commitments without considering the time involved or what that commitment will cost you in other areas is unwise.
For example: if you are willing to sacrifice time with your family or endanger your marriage for a better job or more money, what does that say about you? If you are willing to cling to a romantic relationship that makes you feel guilty, what does that say about you?
The evaluation process is as simple as taking a piece of paper and writing down two columns of “pros and cons”. Then count the cost as compared to the perceived gain. It is common sense at work.
Third, pray. This means take actual time to pray. It does not always work to just say a quick prayer and then go ahead and do it! (Particularity if you have emotions involved.)
“I really, really want to do this… and you don’t mind God, do you?” Pause…wait 3 seconds…no thunder from heaven…oh, good. God approves.
This is not prayer! And it is mostly foolishness.
Praying is talking to God about your decision and your choice. Taking the time to lay it all out before God… and waiting. If you are ever pressed to decide with “This is your only chance, last chance, once in a lifetime opportunity” business, FORGET IT! That’s an old sales trick. I used to be a salesman, so I know!
If you have any abilities at all, other opportunities will come. It’s never a last, particularly if you are a follower of Christ. Don’t let anyone rush you, press you or manipulate you. You always have time to pray. If God is behind an opportunity, He will give you time to receive a confirmation from him. Of course, realistically you can’t take months or years, but a week or two of intense waiting on God is important. Eventually you’ll have to make a decision- but it will, and should, take some time.
Fourth, listen. Ask advice from people who know stuff about what you’re trying to decide. Best friends are not always good for advice. They are good to talk to, complain to, sympathize with you, but they are not always good on advice.
Good advice must be objective- your advisor must be able to see what’s potentially wrong as well as what’s potentially right. Lots of good people, good Christian people, have really messed up following the advice of good friends. So you probably need to talk to someone older or wiser who has no emotional involvement in this situation. And It’s ok to ask more than one person their advice- and then go back to talking to God.
I imagine you’re wondering, “What does PD mean about listening to God? How would God speak to me about this?”
Very simply, God gives peace. If you have complete, lasting inner peace when you pray about a matter, then the Lord is with you. Anxiety about the future is caused by:
• a lack of clarity in your thinking
• confusion of your options
• a lack of prayerful evaluation
• too many unresolved questions
God’s will in a decision gives peace, always and in every circumstance. You just have to listen. The speaking of God is not all that complex. He loves to communicate with us.
As you read your Bible, verses at times may become “highlighted”- they are energized by the Holy Spirit. They become like living words. That is God speaking. My Bible is full of margin notes where I wrote what God spoke to me as I was reading. If you don’t read your Bible, it’s going to be pretty hard for God to speak to you. Don’t play “Bible roulette”…open it up and the first thing you read is God’s will. That might work for someone who doesn’t know any better and is very new in their faith. But now you know better- so don’t do it. Consistent reading will lead you along a path of Scripture that will guide you in your decision-making.
God may bring impressions into our minds that are strong and clear. As you reflect on these impressions, you will realize it is God guiding you. Realistically, audible vivid voices and circumstantial signs are mostly unreliable. For example: “If God wants me to do this, let the dog bark three times in the morning.” (The dog barks 3 times every morning!) “Or let me receive a text message today from Juan De La Cruz.” (Do you actually know Juan de la Cruz?) How silly.
The business of listening is being prayerfully open-minded. Kind of at the back of your mind, you’re always looking to God to speak. He does. He’ll find a way to get through if you want to hear His still small voice, and you are patient. Get quiet. Shut yourself away for awhile. Turn off the tv. Turn off your music. Don’t check Facebook. (!) Close the door.
Lets talk a little about those bad decisions. Everyone makes some. Some trial and error is normal in life. No one does everything right all the time except God. 😉
Life goes upside down when the bad decisions begin to outnumber the good ones. And let me emphatically state: it’s not just younger people who make bad decisions. Older people make huge mistakes too! Age does not necessarily bring wisdom. It’s not about age- although age can improve the quality of your decisions.
When its obvious you’ve blown it, find out why…and don’t do that again. That is called L.E.A.R.N.I.N.G! When you’ve made a commitment that is clearly bad, find a way to respectfully get out of it, if you can. Humility goes a long way in correcting bad decisions. Don’t pass the buck on bad decisions by blaming someone else. Don’t just forget it. Don’t ignore it!
Personal growth demands you take full responsibility for bad decisions. Blaming others means you do not plan to learn anything from this. As long as others are to blame you have yet to take responsibility for your life.
Just remember whenever you make commitments as a Christian to anything or anyone that is outside of Christian values, it’s going to bring grief to you sooner or later. You cannot consistently live in a way that is inconsistent with what you believe.
Work on the future positively. No matter what your track record is, don’t throw your hands up in the air and say, “It’s no use!” or “I can’t do this.” Here’s what I do: I declare that I can learn, I can listen, I can make good decisions. I will succeed in life. I will follow God’s will and God WILL guide me and in the end my life will bring honor to God. That is the only way to face life!
Remember: VALUES…COMMON SENSE…PRAY…LISTEN.
I wanted to write this in the context of ministry, gifting and calling. All of these involve decisions. To say “yes” or “no”, to say “not now”… are all decisions. God’s will can never be activated without a decision- your decision! It doesn’t just happen.
Your gifting will never blossom without a decision to obey. Your calling is never poured in cement. It is a living thing, constantly in motion, being changed and strengthened and expanded by every open-hearted decision to follow God and do His will.
*For further reading, please go to my previous 2011 blog on decision making- you can find it at: