An Important Step to Please God and Make Wise Decisions
Decision making doesn’t have to be like rolling the dice. Learn how to take a simple practice toward the process.
Several years ago, I heard a White House speechwriter give a talk about her life and career. She told us how she had to make an important decision during her last year of law school. She was invited to join a presidential political campaign as a speechwriter, but the job was 1,500 miles away. How can I finish law school and do this job? she thought.
Despite the hardships she imagined, she said yes. As she reflected on her story, she shared a powerful lesson: “The risk was in not taking the job.” For her, the risk wasn’t taking the job and failing law school. The risk was missing future opportunities if she didn’t take the position.
In the end, she accepted the job and completed law school. Though the candidate she worked for didn’t advance beyond the primaries, she was later hired to write speeches for another candidate who would become the president of the United States.
Looking back, she believed if she hadn’t taken that role 1,500 miles away, her future would have been different. If she would have said, “No,” to the job, she might not have been working in the White House. She reminded us to remember the risk of not saying yes.
I dwelled on that for years. As I’ve reflected on her advice, I know, of course, we shouldn’t always say, “Yes.” Doing something without first praying about it or really thinking it through– that would be a recipe for reckless living. Still, the lesson was a reminder to consider how a decision can impact the future in the longer term.
What we say yes or no to today will probably have some kind of impact on the future, big or small. However, considering the risk of not doing something isn’t the only thing we should take into account when making decisions. In some cases, it may not even be the right one. I’ve learned that making decisions on our own, or even with the counsel of intelligent people, may lack the most important thing we need to do to make wise decisions: ask God.
When we rely only on logic and our own wisdom to make decisions, we risk making decisions based only on our human understanding. We fail to seek God’s wisdom through prayer and spiritual discernment.
Our wisdom needs to be infused with the wisdom of God. Without this, we can make decisions that are not right for us and ones that don’t please God.
This can easily happen when we replace seeking God’s wisdom with believing our own ideas about what is good for us. We may mistakenly do what we think is right based on our limited human knowledge. This can lead us off track.
We need wisdom from the Giver of Wisdom.
In short, we need wisdom from the Giver of Wisdom. We need a mind focused on God and what he wants for us. Therefore, it’s important to pray for wisdom and ask the Holy Spirit to guide us in making good decisions.
When asking God about a decision, logical questions about risk may support our discerning. But I believe such questions should be secondary to what we feel the Spirit of God is telling us. As people who want to seek God, we need to ensure that he is at the center of our decision making. This, more than anything, will keep our hearts and minds focused on what pleases God rather than on what pleases us, or what we think may or may not happen in the future as a result of a decision.
John Frame teaches at the Humanitarian Disaster Institute at Wheaton College, which offers a M.A. in Humanitarian & Disaster Leadership and a Trauma Certificate. To learn more and apply, visit our website.
So, how might we do this?
I’ve found it meaningful to verbally give God permission to make decisions on my behalf. I feel this allows God to have authority over my life. In this way, I try to give up my own right to make decisions and instead give God sovereignty to make them for me.
Seeking to know what pleases God is the most important aspect of making decisions. And this relates to us regardless of what stage of life we’re in, such as those who are seeking new career opportunities.
As people of faith, more than anything, let’s not forget to pray. Let’s not forget to ask God. Let’s listen to God’s answers.
What’s the first step you can take to help you with this?
This week, consider a small or big decision you’re currently facing or may be facing in the near future. Pray about it, inviting God to be your decision maker and asking for him to give you wisdom. The decision can then come out of a combination of listening to God’s voice, discerning how God might be leading you, receiving the wisdom he gives, and your conscious considerations, such as what might result from saying yes or no.
Here is a prayer to help you on your journey of making wise, God-pleasing decisions:
Dear God, I ask that you be my decision maker. I give you permission to make decisions on my behalf when possible. Please also give me wisdom to make the decisions you want me to make—those that will benefit not just me but others as well. Help me to make decisions that will allow me to have a bigger impact for you in this world. Help me to be a wise thinker. Help me to hear you and to trust you to lead me. Help me to place my future and whatever that looks like in your hands. Help me to do whatever it is you would like for me to do, and to not be afraid. Amen.
This is an edited excerpt of John Christopher Frame’s new release, Increase Your Leadership Impact: 6 Simple Strategies to Connect with God’s Wisdom, Make Tough Decisions, and Inspire Those Around You. It’s available as a paperback, ebook, and audiobook. To grab a (currently) free copy of the ebook, click here: http://www.johnchristopherframe.com/leadership-ebook
John Christopher Frame is the author of 7 Attitudes of the Helping Heart: How to Live Out Your Faith and Care for the Poor and Homeless at Harvard: Finding Faith and Friendship on the Streets of Harvard Square. He loves traveling on the cheap, visiting outdoor markets, balcony gardening, and working in quirky cafés in his neighborhood. He also enjoys spending time with his wife, whom he met while buying a carpet at a souvenir shop in Istanbul, Turkey. You can download his free devotional guide, 7 Days to Upping Your Prayer Life, Loving Others, and Having More Joy, at: http://www.johnchristopherframe.com/prayer