Photo Above: Moraine Lake, Alberta, Canada. Photographer: Mike Boehmer
Making Tough Decisions
Proverbs 20:24 “A man’s steps are from the Lord; how then can man understand his way?”
In a interview with Parade magazine on May 18, 2008 US Senator Jim Webb tells a few stories about what helped form his ideas on decision making and leadership. “Just before we graduated, a tough but insightful lieutenant Colonel who had fought in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam gave us a speech, a warning that echoes in my memory almost every day. He recounted a story of a fight in Korea that went incredibly bad where, for all his experience, he made an error in Judgment. “I had the enemy pinned down on a ridge,” he said. “I set up a base of fire and sent 13 Marines into the tree line in order to envelop the enemy. Thirteen Marines into the tree line, and 13 were killed. And gentlemen, there is not a day that goes by when I don’t think of that.” The Colonel then spoke of the inalienable bottom line of combat leadership: While all Marines are equally in harm’s way, it is the leaders who must make the decision about what to do, then live with the results.”
Later on in the article Senator Webb also describes some of his own experiences on the battle field in Vietnam and says: “And everyday, we who led the squads, platoons and companies were required to make decisions that would confounded the seminars on ethics and philosophy at universities where some of our peers now grappled intellectually with the war we had been sent to fight.”
Life is filled with hard decisions, and being a Christian doesn’t change this fact at all. Here are some fundamentals to make Godly decisions:
Read the scriptures:
We read the scriptures to help develop in us what Paul refers to as the “mind of Christ.” The reading of scriptures changes the way we think. It is harder to make selfish decisions after reading scriptures such as Philippians 2, where it states “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” We can’t expect to know God’s values, heart, or attitudes on how we should conduct ourselves without reading about God first.
Prayer is an act of faith. Prayer is a petition to God to give us wisdom. Prayer is a petition to God to direct our paths and act on our behalf. Prayer is an act of surrender that states “not my will God but your will be done”. The Holy Spirit through prayer also convicts of sin and helps us think the way a Christian should with regards to decision making. I believe in our moments of prayer we should not be trying to hear from “the still small voice” many in Christendom refer to. But instead in a sense we should meditate on God, contemplate His ways, and allow the Holy Spirit to direct us towards Godly thinking about the situation.
Get advice and wisdom from others:
King Solomon in the book of Ecclesiastes correctly states “what has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” As smart as we believe we are there is always someone smarter and more experienced than us who can give us advice in our decisions. We should actively seek out this advice. We also need to be wise in who we get advice from, and depending on the situation how many people you can get advice from. For the book of Proverbs states “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.”
Make the decision you feel is the best and trust in God’s sovereignty.
This is the hardest part, especially when tough decisions are being made. But if you have prayed as much as you could, and considered your options as much as you could, it is time to trust God. If we make decisions based on prayer, scripture reading, and getting other people’s advice it does not mean we will always make the right decision. It also does not mean an amazing testimony will come out of it. But it does mean we obey God, we are being smart, and we are pleasing God in the way we conduct our decision making, which is more important than any decision we could ever make.
Scriptures to consider:
Proverbs 16:3 “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.”
Proverbs 16:9 “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”
Proverbs 19:21 “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.”