What’s the Right Decision?
Decisions. We make them all day sometimes without even realizing it. Several internet articles put the number of daily decisions at 35,000. Think about it. From the moment we get out of bed (which is a decision, by the way) we are bombarded with choices: Hit snooze or get up? Yogurt or cereal for breakfast? Shower now or later? We probably make a hundred decisions before we even stumble out of the bedroom.
These kinds of decisions are often mindless. But what about the more significant ones? How about those life-changing decisions, the ones that may alter the trajectory of our lives: Should I marry this person? Should we move to another town for this new opportunity? Purchase this house? Have a child? While some situations require an instant reply, many like these have the benefit of time -- possibly days or months to think it over, pray about it, or seek counsel.
For these types of more critical decisions, I like to use the term “discernment.” It seems more fitting because it speaks to an intentional process, not a quick determination. And for me it means looking beyond my limited perspective, experiences, and agendas and seeking God’s voice in the conversation.
Priscilla Shirer’s “Discerning the Voice of God” has been an empowering resource on this topic for me and my women’s group this summer. The entire book is about hearing God’s voice in the midst of our noisy, distracted world. One section clearly articulates Priscilla’s guidelines for “creating spiritual ears” with what she calls the “Five Ms”: 1. Look for the message of the Spirit. 2. Live in the mode of prayer. 3. Search out the model of Scripture. 4. Submit to the ministry of Eli (i.e. godly counsel). 5. Expect the mercy of confirmation. Discernment is a process, one that requires patience and a lot of prayer.
This book is packed with godly wisdom with one major theme: Intentionally seek a relationship with God. Priscilla sums it up, “No longer do I frantically search for God’s will; I frantically search for God.”
For many years, I didn’t seek God nor His will for my decisions. They were my decisions so what did God have to do with it? I was an intelligent person and when something made logical sense and felt right, I went for it. Unfortunately, I have learned through many hardships including a failed marriage and several career changes that this type of decision making does not work very well. Not only have poor choices affected the course of my life but also the lives of my loved ones — there is a ripple effect and often generational consequences. As a parent, the decisions I made and continue to make affect my children.
Making decisions based on feelings, even ones backed up with facts and logic are not always the best choices. Just last week a friend sent an email summarizing a decision-making process that involves the “Three Brains — head, heart, and gut.” It involves gathering information and then at bedtime assigning each of the three brains the task of organizing and analyzing the information while in a dream state. Upon waking you drink a glass of tepid water while sitting quietly to determine which solution honors the three brains, and then “go for it.”
In our self-sufficient world today there are many strategies like these. One limitation is that they are clouded by on our own experiences, knowledge, agendas, biases, and feelings. Of course emotions constantly change and can lead to disastrous decisions. Extramarital affairs may feel great in the moment and be filled with excitement and passion but will result in broken relationships and trust. Lust can impair our judgment. And drugs, alcohol, hormones, PMS, loneliness, and depression/other mental health conditions will as well. Even if we’re healthy we’ve all heard the saying, “Love is blind,” but it’s not the only thing that skews our perspective — we all have have blindspots.
Most importantly what is lacking in these popular methods is that God is shut out of the decision-making process. In our country where, according to a 2016 Gallup Poll, 89 percent of Americans still believe in God, it’s shocking to realize how often the giver and sustainer of life is not consulted in our biggest decisions.
What’s the right decision? Time will surely tell, and God can certainly help if you seek Him.
Maybe a better question to ask yourself is, “What’s the right decision-making process?”
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33 KJV)