God created wisdom before he created the world (Prov.8). In the book of Proverbs, we are encouraged, if not urged, to get wisdom. God wants to help us develop wisdom, which is the proper application of knowledge and understanding (Prov.4:7). God gave us a brain – we must use it. He won’t make all the decisions for us. He wants us to use common sense, which isn’t so common any more.
Ask God for wisdom (Jas.1:5), look in the Bible for it, do personal research and listen to wise counselors or advisers. Wise planning and thinking ahead before making decisions is a Biblical concept.In order to make good decisions, you need to be able to think clearly and weigh up the evidence effectively. Here is a simple four-stage decision-making process:
a. The Question. State the decision or the problem as a clear question. Know exactly what the decision you need to make is, what the issue or problem is. This is the foundation stage – understand the background of your situation. Ask key questions.
b. The Alternatives.Think about and come up with as many creative alternatives as possible that answer the question. List all your options. Be creative and avoid judgment at this stage. Get help and feedback from people with knowledge of the subject, skill, experience, responsibility, strength of calling and principle.
c. The Consequences. Evaluate each alternative by thinking through their implications and predicting the likely, as well as the possible, consequences. This prepares you to make a decision and also creates some contingency plans in case the choice proves to partially or totally wrong. Weigh up the advantages (pluses) and disadvantages (minuses) of the different alternatives. Gather and sift through as much information as possible. Think about your choices. Think about each option. Think beyond the decision to any potential “chain reactions” (Prov.22:3).
Get counsel and input from other people (see Prov.12:15; 13:10; 15:22; 19:20; 20:18). No one has all the wisdom. In the multitude of counsel there is wisdom and safety. Get more than one. Major decisions – do you speak to wise people about it first? Approval of those God has put in your life. Get multiple opinions.
Observe your own feelings. What are you “comfortable” with? What seems “good”? Go slowly on this step and take your feelings seriously (not just other people’s). The peace of God is to rule in your heart and mind (Phil.4:6-7). Don’t do anything you feel unsettled about it that violates your conscience. Our conscience gives us a sense of right and wrong. It is most effective when we have invested God’s word into our minds.
Do a quick check at this point: Have you asked the right question? Have all credible alternatives been considered? Have all possible consequences for each alternative been thought through? Have all foreseeable contingencies been provided for, as far as possible?
d. The Decision. Use your best judgment to make a decision. Discard the other options. No backtracking. Avoid going back again and again to step 3 and delaying the decision. Don’t expect the feeling to come first, and the decision to follow. Its time to move ahead now.
Commit to the decision. It is rarely possible to make the perfect decision”. Every course of action will lead to more choices and will throw up some unexpected difficulties. If you are too worried about the pursuit of the perfect decision, you will be more likely to become painfully indecisive.
Indecision ruins many people’s potential and causes costly delays. Many of us freeze when faced with decisions. We’re afraid of making the wrong choice. We tend to be abdicators not decision-makers. This results in lost opportunities, endless procrastination, frustration and doubt.
In few instances is one decision better than another. It is usually the decision-maker, not the choice itself, that makes it work. Any failure has little to do with the choice. It is directly related to lack of dedicated commitment. Choices are often good only if we make them good.
Do everything to make the decision work. Other decisions might have worked just as well, but be loyal and optimistic to the one you’ve chosen. Don’t abandon the decision at signs of difficulty and become pessimistic about the choice.