Decision making: a cognitive process whereby a choice of action is made from among various alternatives. Although the end result is action, the process of decision making cannot and is not passive.
Making decisions needs to be an active thought process, particularly decisions that change the direction of our lives and have great costs involved.
These are often very difficult to make, so here are some thoughts to consider when making a decision:
- Weigh negatives and positives equally. When we desire something badly enough it is difficult to see all the potential problems that may be inherent in our decisions. We tend to discount the negatives in light of the positive like the people of Israel did in 1 Sam 8:19-20, where their desire for a king discounted all of Samuel’s warnings earlier in the chapter. We need to consider everyone that may be affected by our decisions. Unless you make a plan on how to handle each one, these may cause you difficulty later.
Do not let the values and actions of others dictate your attitudes and behavior. Look at an example in 1 Sam 13:11-15, where Saul decides to make the offering because of the values and actions of his men who were under pressure. Values and attitudes of other people can draw you away from what God says is right for you. Our overall motivation in decision making should be to do what God says is right for us and it is quite possible that others will not agree with your decisions.
- Taking matters into your own hands demonstrates a lack of faith and disobedience, similar to Saul in the passage above. It is difficult to trust God when your feel your resources slipping away, or feel that time is running out. We become impatient with God’s timing. We need to watch out for impatience, it requires a decision to follow only God’s plan, regardless of the circumstances, because His plans are the best plans for us. Jer 29:11. The Lord uses delays to test our obedience and our patience.
Choices are often between wrong and wrong, or good and good and we are called to make a choice. How does one choose between two courses of action that seem the same? In 2 Chron 25:7-10 Amaziah has to choose between fighting and fighting, but one was a better choice. Fighting with God and not the paid men was a choice that honored God, even though it would cost him. We cannot afford to lose sight of what God wants. Sometimes in trying to make a decision, it cannot be made because God wants us to seek more choices, until we find a choice that honors God.
- Similarly in the story above, money must never interfere with making wise decisions. Amaziah was concerned about the money he had paid for the hired soldiers and it caused him to hesitate in making a decision that would honor God. All our money and possessions come from the Lord, which He wisely provides and takes away according to His purposes. Like Amaziah was told in 2 Chron 25:9 “The Lord can give you much more than that.”
Identify the real motivations behind the decisions you are making. Prov 21:2 reminds us that “All a man’s ways seem right to him, but the Lord weighs the heart” and recognizes our true motivations. We can easily be deceived by our own thinking that seems right to us (Prov 12:15), but it is only by careful examination of our hearts in prayer and bible study, with the help of the Spirit, that we will identify what is really behind some of our decisions.
The most common mistake in decision making is not spending enough time thinking about the decisions we are making. We ignore the importance of doing the hard work of decision making and often settle for decisions that are not God’s best for us, opting for decisions made on the “spur of the moment” or “under pressure.”
Lord help me to be a wise decision maker and to be mindful of my heart and my thought processes. Help me not to make decisions without thinking then through and seeking to honor you in all my life decisions.
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