5 Guides for Decision Making
by: Allen Domelle
Life is filled with decisions. Every day we make hundreds of decisions without even thinking about them. We start our day out deciding whether to get up immediately when the alarm clock goes off or to stay in bed until the snooze alarm wakes us. We decide what clothing we are going to wear for the day, how much are we going to eat for breakfast and what time should we leave for work. We make decisions throughout the day such as what route do we take to our destination, should we take the phone call or let it go to voicemail, do I need to handle this situation or deal with it later and many more as well. Life is filled with decisions that can literally make or break our future.
Though these decisions may seem trivial to some, what we don’t understand is that every decision always has an impact. It is frightening that many people make decisions without having anything to guide them as to whether or not they should do something. One bad decision can literally change your whole life, and to go into making decisions without a guide is dangerous if not ignorant.
Recently, I was helping a person with some decisions as to whether they should do something, and I told them there were five things that guide my decision making. These five guides literally make the decisions for me. They are like a flashlight in a dark night that shine the light on a dark path. If I allow these five guides to guide me, then they are like the heading indicator of a plane that guides me to the desired destination of where I want to be.
I’ve watched many ministries make decisions that adversely affect them. They see something that seems to be popular, and they follow the fad not realizing that it will lead them to an undesirable destination. Pastors make decisions daily that literally influence the future of the youth of their church, and don’t realize that their decision will lead their youth down the wrong road when they become adults. Parents are just as guilty of making decisions that affect the immediate in a pleasant manner, but destroy the future of their home and children. You must have some guides to guide you when you make decisions so that you don’t make these mistakes. Let me show you five things that should guide every decision.
1. Is it right or wrong?
This would seem like the easiest question to ask, but sadly many do not make decisions based on right or wrong. Many make decisions based upon convenience. Often a wrong decision is made because the right decision was inconvenient. Convenience should never make a decision; instead, right and wrong should be the justifiers of any decision. James 4:17 says, “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” When you know something is the right thing to do, then your decision is already made.
Years ago when I was a boy, my parents taught me this invaluable lesson. It was a Friday afternoon when they called me into the house to tell me about an opportunity about which I needed to make a decision. A family in our church had asked my parents if I could go to an amusement park with them on Sunday. That would mean I would miss church. My parents laid all the facts out and then told me that I needed to make a decision. That was a tough decision as a young nine-year-old boy. I had never been to an amusement park, but I also knew that I was supposed to be in church no matter what. After a few minutes of struggling with what to do, I told my parents I would not go because I needed to be in church. They told me that they had already informed this family that I would not go, but they wanted to use the opportunity to teach me that from that point and forward I should never consider something that is against God’s Word.
Balaam made that tragic mistake when he was approached the second time about going to curse the people of God. God had already told him not to go, but the opportunity it gave him seemed to be one that couldn’t be passed up. For the sake of convenience, he disobeyed God and did what he wanted only to see his life tragically end.
The Scriptures are filled with commandments of what we should and should not do. I’m not talking about things that might seem a bit cloudy, I’m talking about absolutes God has given. Whenever you are faced with a decision the very first thing you must ask yourself is, “Is it right or wrong?” That guide alone will help you to make at least half of your decisions. The right and wrong decisions should not be up for discussion because the Scriptures have already made the decision for you.
2. What direction will it take me?
This is probably one of the most neglected guides in decision making. Every decision you make leads you in a certain direction. Often we make decisions that may not be wrong, but they start leading us down the wrong pathway of life. If you make a decision that leads you in the wrong direction, it will eventually lead to the wrong destination.
When you go to take a trip, you always use a map to help you get to the desired destination. When my wife and I got married, we traveled to all of our meetings together. She became my navigator. While I was driving she would read the map and tell me which direction I needed to turn on a highway or road. One wrong turn would get us lost and either delay us from getting to our destination or keep us from finding our desired destination.
Every decision you make has a destination. Psalm 119:35 says, “Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein do I delight.” You must always ask yourself where a decision will take you in the future. You want to make decisions that lead you down the “path of thy commandments.”
Let me give a classic directional decision some make. Should a church use screens instead of songbooks? This is interesting because there is nothing wrong with using screens; however, the destination it takes you will not be what God or you want. Do you realize that if you use screens for people to look at to sing songs that people will stop learning how to sing parts. When they sing from a songbook, there are notes for people to follow and they are learning how to sing parts whether or not they realize it. There is nothing wrong with singing from a screen, but it will take you in an adverse direction.
There are so many decisions that people make on a daily basis that have a wrong direction. You must consider the direction each decision takes, and only make the decision that takes you to a scriptural destination.
3. How will it affect the next generation?
The next generation is always affected by the decisions this generation makes. One of the biggest problems we face today is that many in leadership are making decisions that are self-absorbed decisions that conveniently make things better for them but are adversely affecting the next generation. For instance, our government leaders seem to be on a spending spree and are not taking into consideration the debt that the next generation will have to pay. It’s sad, but many never consider the affects their decisions make on future generations.
Deuteronomy 6:6-7 says, “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” You are commanded to teach your children the right path, and your decisions are the object lessons from which your children learn.
One thing I always ask myself when I make a decisions is how will it affect the generation that follows. Will this decision cause them to have to clean up my mess or will they be able to take this decision and further the right this decision promotes? When you choose to divorce your spouse, you are adversely affecting the next generation. When you put your church into extreme debt, you are adversely affecting the next generation. When you choose to sin, you are adversely affecting the next generation. When you compromise a stance for the sake of political correctness, you are adversely affecting the next generation. With every decision you must consider how it will affect the generation that follows.
4. Where will the next generation take this decision?
Often, a decision we make is not bad, but where the next generation will take it is bad. I’ve heard the statement throughout my life, “What we do in moderation our children will do in excess.” This is so very true! Just because you won’t take something a wrong direction doesn’t mean the next generation won’t. You must always consider that the next generation will take what you do to further extremes.
For instance, I believe a church would be wise to stay on the conservative side of music because if you don’t the next generation will have their country western and rock music in church. It’s not that what you are doing is wrong, but it’s where the next generation will take it. When you cut back on the soul-winning emphasis, you are causing the next generation to have no soul winning at all. You may ride the border on dress standards, but the next generation will break those borders and have indecent standards. You might cut out church services for Christmas and Thanksgiving, but the next generation will cut out Sunday night and Wednesday night services.
The next generation rarely meets up to the standards of the previous generation. This is why it’s important to have standards that keep you from the line of sin. If you skirt the line of sin, then the next generation will cross the line of sin. Judges 1:28 says, “And it came to pass, when Israel was strong, that they put the Canaanites to tribute, and did not utterly drive them out.” The present generation controlled the Canaanites, but the next generation served the gods of the Canaanites. You must always consider that the next generation will take your decisions further away from where you are, so only follow decisions that will not lead the next generation into sin.
5. Is it good, better or best?
Romans 12:2 says, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” With every decision there is a good, better or best. Your desire should be to make a decision that causes you to do the best. Never settle for second best or good, only accept the best.
When making decisions you need to ask yourself, “Is this best?” Not, “If it’s good or better.” God is not interested in good or better, but He’s interested in the best. It may be good or better to go to a certain Bible college, but is it best for you? It may be good or better for you to take a position, but is it best? It may be good or better to be an assistant pastor, but is it best when God’s called you to pastor? You should only want is best and NEVER settle for good or better.
I think of Joseph who made the decision not to have Mary killed when he found out she was pregnant. When you look at his decision, it was influenced by these five guides. By following these five guides he literally has influenced the world and eternity. Every decision you make will influence your world and the eternity of those whom you influence. Let these five guides help you in making decisions so that you can influence your world and their eternity for right.
Allen Domelle is the editor of the Old Paths Journal which is more than just a Christian’s publication. It is an excellent place to learn how today’s headlines will forge tomorrow’s laws and statutes. Keep yourself in tune with what is happening around the world, as well as in your own backyard with our daily updates and devotionals.