by David Wraight
There is an old saying: “Every man (or woman) is just one decision away from disaster.” It is true – one poor decision can very easily bring about moral, financial, or physical ruin. There are many examples of very wealthy individuals who have made one unwise decision and ended up completely bankrupt for the remainder of their lives. And there are many examples of Christian leaders totally destroying their ministry because of a decision to have an affair, or to steal money from their ministry, or to engage in pornography. However, as true as this old saying is, I believe the opposite is equally true: “Every man (or woman) is just one decision away from great blessing.”
Decision making is one of the responsibilities of leadership. And for those of us in mission leadership, the decisions we make can affect the lives of thousands or possibly millions of people – bringing them great blessing and salvation or denying them the opportunity to be followers of Jesus. Because of the strategic and eternal nature of our leadership role, we have an awesome responsibility to make good decisions.
So how do we make good decisions?
1. Ask for God’s guidance – Pray and get others to pray with you. We should never make an important decision without first consulting with God. And the best way to consult with God is to pray with others and seek their input as to what God is saying on the matter. All Christian leaders should have a team of prayer warriors around them that they can call on when they are making important decisions. There are many examples in the Bible of leaders seeking guidance from God by joining with others in prayer, collectively hearing from the Lord and agreeing together about a course of action (e.g. Esther 4:15-17; Acts 13:1-3). If you are in leadership and don’t have a prayer team supporting you – then get one. You cannot lead effectively without consistent consultative prayer support!
2. Seek wise counsel – Gather around you some people who are Godly and wise leaders who you can call on for counsel regarding important decisions. If you are serving in a leadership role you should already have some mentors advising and supporting you. Add other Godly leaders to this core group of mentors to form a larger group of people that you can call on for advice and counsel when you have strategic and important decisions to make. We are told in God’s Word that His ways are foolishness to the world (1 Corinthians 1:20, 27; 3:18, 19), so it is often hard for us to determine and accept God’s will because it seems so foolish from a human perspective. One of the best ways to apply God’s wisdom rather than worldly wisdom to a decision is to seek the counsel of Godly men and woman.
3. Gather information – In Luke 14:28-32 Jesus instructs His followers to make informeddecisions using the examples of a wise builder who estimates the cost of the construction before building a tower, and a military leader who evaluates the strength of an opposing army before entering battle. We need to be well-informed to make wise decisions, gathering together as many facts and figures as possible before committing ourselves to a course of action.
4. Check the alignment of your decision with God’s Word – More than once I have been told by a woman or a man that they were leaving their spouse because they no longer loved them and that God told them it was OK for them to leave. Clearly they had not heard from God, as their decision was not consistent with the teachings of the Bible. God never asks us to do something contrary to the truth and teachings of His Word. So before making a decision we need to check that decision against God will as expressed in His Word. If it in any way contravenes the truth and teachings of the Bible, then you can be sure that the decision is not of God.
5. Be courageous – Theodore Roosevelt once said: “In any moment of decision the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.” All good leaders are decision makers. There is a point in the decision making process that you actually have to make a decision. When a decision involves great risk and/or strategic significance it is sometimes hard to finally commit, but serving God involves bold steps of faith which often seem foolish to others. If you have consulted with the Lord in prayer, sought the counsel and wisdom of others, gathered and assessed the facts and figures, checked that the decision is not contrary to the truth and teachings of the Bible – then trust God and make the decision knowing that the Lord will be with you.
6. Persevere – The Bible is replete with examples of leaders who, after consulting with God, made a decision to move ahead, and then persevered (stuck by their decision) against impossible obstacles and challenges achieving all that God had asked of them. After making a decision in consultation with God we need to persevere and stick by our decision, trusting God to see us through.
7. Review – As we move ahead on a chosen course of action, every now then it is helpful to review how we are traveling to make sure we are sticking to the path God laid out for us. Not only do we need to consult with God when we make a decision, once the decision is made we need to move ahead with God, remaining in step with Him by seeking His ongoing strength, involvement and guidance. When we come up against obstacles and blockages we need to once again through prayer and wise counsel seek God’s input as to the right way forward.
If we are to fulfill our God-given mission and calling, we need to step out in faith and wisdom, making courageous God-directed decisions that reflect the desire of our Lord that none should perish, but that all would come to repentance (1 Peter 3:9).