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Home > Skills > Decision Making > Making Decisions
Virtually every decision has a moral aspect, but there are also other modes to consider: effective versus ineffective, good versus best, safe versus risky.
Carl F. George

It's not stretching it too far to say a leader is much like a basketball referee: in the middle of the action, trying to keep the game clean and fair, and above all, calling 'em as he sees 'em.

Decision making is just as important and difficult to the pastor as to the ref — and occasionally just as unpopular.

One of the best at making the right call is Carl George. Director of the Pasadena-based Charles E. Fuller Institute of Evangelism and Church Growth since 1978, he spends a full one-third of his time with individual churches and pastors who have requested help. His wisdom is a combination of thirteen years in the pastorate (University Baptist Church, Gainesville, Florida), consulting work with more than three dozen denominations, postgraduate study in sociology, and wide self-education, all processed by one of the fastest minds in the West.

Here are his thoughts on the demanding art of making decisions.

Everyone knows leadership involves making decisions; that's "what we get paid for," as the saying goes. How can church leaders do it better?

As I spend time with pastors, I find them making many decisions every day. But they are handicapped because they almost inevitably think in moralistic terms only: rightness versus wrongness. "What's the right thing to do? What ought to be done?"

I keep reminding leaders that there are other modes to consider: effective versus ineffective, good versus best, safe versus risky.

You're not dismissing the moral dimension?

Not at all. Virtually every decision has a moral aspect, either in its consequences or in the way the decision will be implemented. And most of us in the ministry carry an intuitive desire to reach for the godly, to hear the words of God on a given issue and line up with him rather than against him. But not all church administration deals with Mount Sinai issues. Many decisions are more mundane and subtle.

That's why I prefer to guide pastors toward such questions as:

— What are the decisions I could make, and what will be the outcomes? Are they significant to my long-term ministry? Which decisions ought to be deferred?

— What are my options? Is this really a yes/no question? Or are there options A, B, and C to be considered?

— Who should be involved in the decision-making process in order for implementation to be effective?

— How do I know when I have enough information? When is going for more research just a way of delaying the decision? Is it time to bite the bullet?

These are the questions that aren't asked often enough.

Of the many decisions pastors face — from "What shall I preach?" to "Whom shall we hire?" to "How shall I arrange my life to be a good spouse and parent?" — which tend to buffalo pastors the worst?

One of the toughest ones, in my judgment, is what to do with one's time on a daily basis. The trouble with time is that no one ...

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Posted: May 19, 2004

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