Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Deciding At The "T"

I have a very distinct memory of driving in the car with my brother. We decided to take a short cut in an area we weren't completely familiar with. The road ended at a "T" intersection and we had to choose whether to turn left or right. I remember one of us thought left and the other one thought right and since he was driving we went his way. We found our way. Turns out it wasn't the most efficient choice (we should have turned the other way), but we still got to where we were going.

For whatever reason, decision making is something I have trouble with. And I'm not all together sure why. Maybe it's because most of the time we are deciding something without knowing the outcome. How are some people confident in making decisions and others not so much? I'm sure some of it is personality and some of it is faith.

Whether you are deciding what restaurant to eat at or what car to buy or what school to go to or whether or not you should take that job or play that sport or commit yourself to another activity, we are making decisions every day, almost at every turn. Sometimes we are deciding whether to buy the oranges or the apples, but other times we need to make potentially life changing decisions that have a big impact.

Being a Christian, I know the best thing I can do before making a "big" decision is to pray about it. I have even been encouraged to pray about the "little" things, too. Asking God for guidance is what I need to do, but how will I know the answer? I have wrestled with that many times before, wanting God to make it abundantly clear what we should or shouldn't do. And sometimes, we wind up not making a decision at all because we're waiting. Not that waiting is a bad choice, but sometimes we let the deadline pass or the opportunity slip by because we can't seem to figure out what we should do. I wonder sometimes if making a decision, any decision, is better then not doing anything at all.

There are other times when we have made a decision about something only to ponder and question our choice after we have made it. Did we make the right one? Should we change our minds? Why is making decisions so difficult?

Some define a "decision" as "the act of making up your mind about something, or a position or opinion or judgment reached after consideration." I found a website about decision making. They defined a decision in a more practical sense: "The process of selecting from several choices, products, or ideas, and taking action." The most important part of this definition, I think, is the taking action part. Sometimes we just have to decide and implement.

Like the "T" in the road, you can't just sit there staring at the options all day. Sometimes you just have to choose; eenie-meenie or flip a coin or go with your gut. I believe God opens and closes doors. I believe if you are making a choice and you have been praying about it that God will direct and guide your steps. He may not hit you over the head with it. And He may allow you to make the wrong choice so you will learn from your mistake.

The website I found, although geared to making career decisions, lays out 7 steps in making a decision that I thought were valid enough to share with you.
Identify the decision to be made - exactly what are you trying to decide?
Know yourself - what are your strengths, weaknesses, skills, values and interests
Identify options - list the various choices so far
Gather information and data - about each alternative
Evaluate options that will solve the problem - pros, cons and risks of each alternative
Select the best option- may be necessary to loop back and gather more info
Develop a plan of action - and implement it!
(This model was developed by Rick Roberts of the University of North Florida career services.)
Ultimately wisdom in our decision making comes from God. Do you pause long enough to hear what He has to say? I might guess that God doesn't really care whether we buy the red one or the blue one, or whether we have chicken or beef for dinner tonight. But coming to God in prayer, even in the little things, is like going to our parents for advice. He wants to know that we care what He thinks. Boy do I need to do more of that.

Are you a good decision maker? What's your secret?

If you have prayed and asked God to guide you in making a particular decision, how did you know what He wanted you to do?

I'm willing to guess we all have testimonies of how God showed us the way in making a decision. Would you be willing to share?

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