ENCOURAGEMENT FOR TODAY
How to Make Right Decisions
by Chris Russell
I recently published a blog post called “8 Keys to Knowing God’s Will For Your Life.” That post was directed toward helping believers to figure out the big picture in regard to God’s will. For instance, those keys have much to do with God’s plan for you vocationally, in ministry, and in the important stages of life.
This post, on the other hand, lends help for the “smaller” decisions that we make from day to day. In order to continue in the middle of God’s perfect will, it is vital that we make right decisions each day and each week. But that is not always easy. As a tool to help you make right decisions from a biblical perspective, I have pulled together 13 questions you should ask when facing a choice. Here they are:
1) Does God already have a clear teaching about this?
Joshua 1:8If God has already spoken clearly about this, you do not have to wonder any longer. Just do what he has told you.
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.
Well, the problem here seems to be that most people in our culture today seem to have a fairly low level of knowledge of the Scriptures. They are “low-information believers.”
So, I would encourage you to saturate your mind as much as possible with God’s Word. Read it. Study it. Memorize it. Learn it. Once you have done so, you will be amazed at how much better you are at making good, solid decisions in life.
2) What do my top spiritual advisors tell me about this?
Proverbs 11:14It is vital that you surround yourself with godly friends who will be able to speak into your life about life’s decisions. Do you realize that you are basically a composite of the five people you spend the most time with? It is crucial to choose those people carefully. If you don’t have those types of friends, I would encourage you to increase your involvement in church and small groups and ministry in order to establish those godly relationships.
Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.
3) What do authority figures in my life have to say about this?
Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work.
4) How will this affect me spiritually?
1 Corinthians 10:23There is much more to this life than just earning a bigger paycheck or improving your status amongst peers. When you make choices, make sure you consider how this decision will affect your spiritual development. Will this draw you nearer to God or further from him? Will this decision interfere with your ability to attend church, maintain godly relationships, or spend time cultivating your spiritual disciplines? If it harms you spiritually, then I would suggest pulling the plug on that choice.
All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify.
5) How will this affect my family? Will this draw us closer to God or further from God?
1 Corinthians 8:9Not only must you consider how this decision will affect your own spiritual development, but you must also consider the affects it will have on the spiritual state of your family. Will this help your family to grow in Christ, or will it interfere with that spiritual growth? Will this pull them away from godly friends and away from a healthy, godly church environment? Will this divide your family in any way? Be careful not to make decisions that will cause your family to pay a big price.
But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak.
6) Is this going to bring more peace or less peace to my life?
1 Thessalonians 4:11Did you know that God actually wants you to have a peaceful life? Of course, this is not the “American way,” but it is definitely an important consideration when it comes to making decisions. Be cautious that you are not stacking your life with more and more “stuff” that will send you over the edge with stress and anxiety. And make sure it is not going to steal the peace from your family as well.
That you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you.
7) Is this consistent with the way God has wired me?
1 Peter 4:10God has created you for a purpose, and He has designed you specifically to fulfill that purpose. You are a gifted individual, and His plan will be for you to function within that area of giftedness. When we veer outside of the way He has wired us, we often feel excessive stress, anxiety, and burnout very quickly.
As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
When it comes to making decisions, make sure you evaluate the choice in light of the way that God has designed you. Are you creative? Are you detail-oriented? Are you relational? Are you task-oriented? Are you a communicator? Pay attention to how God has wired you.
Proverbs 27:12When making decisions, it is very important to honestly assess the risk that is involved. Sometimes we can become so mesmerized by a “golden carrot” that we overlook the risks that are associated. For this one, I would suggest that you have an outside voice speak into the situation.
A wise man foresees evil and hides himself; the simple pass on and are punished.
In his book Entreleadership, Dave Ramsey says that anytime he has made a business decision that has gone against his wife’s advice, it has cost him at least $10,000. Sometimes others, like a spouse, can see the risks that we overlook.
It is a sign of wisdom to be cautious. Not fearful, but cautious.
9) Do I have total peace from God about this?
Philippians 4:7Sometimes everything can look right on the outside when I’m making a decision, but there will still be angst within my spirit. I have learned that making a decision without that inner peace is nearly always a mistake. God gives us peace as a protection and a guide. Seek His peace, and be cautious of making decisions that move against that peace.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
10) Are the doors of circumstances clearly open here?
(See Acts 16)God often works through obvious circumstances. For example, He did that for Paul in Acts 16. In that chapter, Paul and his entourage kept facing closed doors as they were seeking where they were to minister next. And then, one door to Asia flew open while all other doors were closing.
God often directs me more by closing doors than by opening them. But there have been times in my life when I have attempted to force open a door that was not truly open. That never ends well.
It’s always good to look at how God is opening or closing doors in front of you. And while an open door does not always mean that you are to pass through, it is often an indicator that God is at work. Pay attention to open doors, and be cautious of forcing doors open when they are closed.
11) Is now the best time for this? Could waiting be better?
Ephesians 5:16-17Haste does not always produce the best decisions. Sometimes everything might seem right about a choice, but making the decision at a later time might make more sense. This isn’t always easy, because we often want to move forward quickly when we see an opportunity. But sometimes the wiser decision is to slow down, plan more, get more input, and give it more time to develop.
Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
12) Am I willing to let God close this door?
(Again, refer to Paul’s journey in Acts 16.)An important element to making good decisions is to make sure that you are completely submitted to God’s ultimate plan for your life. Sometimes we get it into our heads that we want to do a certain thing, and then we struggle immensely when we begin to realize that God may not want us to move forward with that particular choice.
The disaster comes when we place our desire above God’s plan. Let me be clear here. That never turns out well. The best decision you can ever make is to submit your choices to God’s plan and be willing to give up an opportunity when you sense God does not want you to move forward with that decision.
13) Am I willing to trust God if He asks me to step forward?
Hebrews 11:6Closely related to the above question is this: Are you willing to trust God if He asks you to step forward? This is basically the flipside of question 12. It’s important to stop when God says, “Stop,” and it is equally important to move forward when He says, “Move forward.”
But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
Are you willing to do that thing He might want you to do? What if it makes you feel uncomfortable? What if it moves you out of your comfort zone? What if it requires faith?
I can testify to you that the most exciting moments of my life have been when I have submitted to God and stepped forward with Him in faith. I hope you can experience that same joy.
Wrapping It Up
OK, so when you have a tough choice to make, I would encourage you to go over these questions before confirming your decision. Perhaps print these questions out and keep them as a reference point for the future. Talk through each of these questions with your spouse or a friend in the context of a decision you are currently making in your own life. I know of some parents who have used these with their kids to help train their children to make good decisions as well. In essence, these questions can serve as guidelines for helping you and your family make decisions that you will not regret.