We’re sometimes faced with very difficult choices. Our decisions to go through one door or another can have tremendous implications for our life and others. Where is God in our decision-making? ♦
Some may remember that popular TV game show, Let’s Make a Deal, where contestants were put into various deal-making situations. Often they were faced with a series of 3 doors from which to choose a prize. Their dilemma was compounded with the fact that one of the door “prizes” was already known or had been won and was in their possession. Did they now want to trade in that item/gift for another item that was behind a hidden door? It could be new car or tropical vacation, or it could be a donkey or item of little worth.
Beyond their own internal calculations, the contestant would invariably turn to the crowd who would be shouting out their thoughts and opinions. Us TV viewers took great pleasure in watching the “right” choice be made and bemoan “wrong” selections – “I knew it, they should’ve taken Door #2!”
Mirroring real life, it would appear that sometimes we get the choice right, sometimes we get it very wrong. We may even pray for the situation. Then when things don’t work out as well as we would’ve hoped, we’re confused and disillusioned, often wondering “Why did this happen? Why did God put me in this situation?” “Why didn’t God come through?”
I maintain that we actually have it all backwards.
We’re chasing choices of our own desire and compounding miscalculations by asking those around us for well-meaning advice that may be woefully misguided. And though we pray, our prayers can be self-serving petitions of an un-surrendered heart.
Man, the Bible, and Wise Decision-Making
If you read the best business management books you’ll find that good decision-making involves the following:
- Identify and clarify options
- Gather information and study the data
- Evaluate and brainstorm solutions
- Select an alternative
- Implement the decision
- Monitor and adjust as appropriate.
Less logical but somewhat comforting is the Biblical approach. Here is some general scriptural guidance:
- Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
- If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. – James 1:5
- Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. – Psalms 119:105
- Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed. – Proverbs 15:22
- Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. – Proverbs 3:5
- A man can receive only what is given him from heaven. – John 3:27
Nevertheless, many Christians still struggle with finding peace and true comfort in decision-making dilemmas. Even with good spiritual intentions, it’s a common issue that can leave us in confusion and high anxiety.
So what do we do?
Recently I encountered three different friends seeking directional counsel. I saw a pattern in how many of us Christians make decisions – all very good, logical, and with great Christian intentions. They each had conducted their research and due diligence. They then thought through the options and weighed the pros and cons. They each sought wise counsel for feedback and guidance. And each said they were reading the Bible and praying.
Sounds good, right?
I told them to consider the possibility that all of their plans and options were bogus; that their dilemma and choices were derived from their own longings and goals, potentially apart from the will of God for their lives. They trusted me and so let me continue despite the jarring suggestion.
I laid out the following 4 ideas and actions for Godly Decision-Making:
- Your Will is Not His Will – your plans and goals may or may not be God’s plan; consider your dreams and options to be mere suggestions, a living sacrifice, to presented to your Father in Heaven. Even Jesus succumbed to the will of the Father after petitioning for a preferred course.
- To Prepare is a Form of Obedience – intentional preparation and analysis is good, reflecting appropriate due diligence, planning and the seeking of wise counsel. Be discerning however, as not all counsel, though even “Christian” and well-meaning, is Spirit-led. Be alert and excellent in process. You were created for production of His will. Be ready.
- Consider Then Surrender – evaluate your situation and decision options, then submit your petition to God in full surrender. This is done in prayer with complete humility, abandon, and relinquishing of self. This is the hardest part, but crossing over into full surrender will change your life.
- Step-By-Step Prayer – your prayer is a releasing and invitation of the Holy Spirit to lead and guide your heart and soul, to direct and impact your thoughts and ideas, to open and shut doors and opportunities, to introduce and intersect your life with the lives of those in whom God wants to intervene. This done daily is the vehicle for “will” transformation and assurance that you are following His will, not yours.
You may actually get what you personally desire, but ideally only after you have laid all the options before your loving Father with an openness to letting them all go and following His plan. And great are the plans He has for each of us. Many of us don’t quite believe that and so control our life tightly, paying lip-service to trusting God. Would you rather walk through any door other than that which God has planned and uniquely wired and created you for?
And what if you feel like you’ve missed it in the past? Do not be dismayed. Be free and start fresh. He’s the all-wise and all-forgiving, good Father. It is never too late to redirect a newly surrendered life.
How’s your decision-making?
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” – Proverbs 3:5-6