Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Four Steps to Making Good Decisions

When we are trying to make big decisions our minds are often filled with confusing emotions. We can be very excited about the possibilities and quite frightened by them at the same time. Even some decisions that may not seem life changing can affect us more than we realize if we keep making the same decision over a long period of time. For example, if we make poor choices about diet or exercise, over time those choices will have a big impact though each individual meal or exercise choice may not have been that big of a deal. Many of the ways we make decisions are not wise, such as flipping a coin, rolling a die, checking our horoscope, calling psychic hot lines or having our palm read. Other ways we make decisions are only partially helpful, such as asking a friend for advice, when that friend does not really know any more about the issue than we do. Though we appreciate their advice, it just was not very illuminating to the situation. We need a set of objective filters that we can run our options through to help us make good decisions. Here is a list of four such filters:

1.     Commit to do whatever the Bible says.
·         If a decision would go against the Bible, it is a decision that will eventually lead
to more pain and difficulty in our lives than we would have had to experience.

          Psalm 119:101-105
I have kept my feet from every evil path to follow Your word. I have not turned from Your judgments, for You Yourself have instructed me. How sweet Your word is to my taste—sweeter than honey to my mouth. Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path.

The Bible will keep us from evil choices. Some things are just wrong, so we should stay away from them.
          Though we may struggle with the idea that some things are always wrong, the Bible gives us God’s judgments, which are always superior to people’s judgments because God sees the whole picture but people only see part of the picture.
          Following the Bible leaves a “sweet” taste in our spirit. Some things are just right. We should engage in such activities. When we do so, we know instinctively that we have done a good thing.
          The Bible sheds light in the darkness and helps us see things more clearly.
          It is important not to misuse the Bible. It is tempting to twist a verse to make it say what we want it to say. To avoid misusing the Bible, we must study it in the context in which it was written. We must take time to study the Word so we understand it correctly.
          If any decision we are about to make would go against the clear teaching of the Bible, then we know it is a bad decision and should avoid it.

2.      Spend time praying.
·         We are unlikely to make good decisions if we have not spent quality time praying about the choices we have to make.

Luke 6:12-13
12 During those days Jesus went out to the mountain to pray and spent all night in prayer to God. 13 When daylight came, He summoned His disciples, and He chose 12 of them to be His apostles.

In Luke 6 Jesus was trying to decide who He would choose to be His apostles.
  • This was a huge decision because the apostles would be the ones to carry on the work of Christ after He was crucified, risen and ascended back to heaven.
  • Jesus spent all night in prayer about which people to choose as His apostles.
  • Too often we either skip prayer, or only pray for a short while, before making a decision. We need to pray long and hard about the decisions in our lives.
  • The Holy Spirit uses prayer to clarify things in our minds and hearts helping us to know which choices to eliminate and which to continue to consider.
  • We may start with a large number of options, after Bible study and prayer; our list of options is usually much shorter. Having a shorter list is much less stressful and easier to see which option is the best one to take.
3.                     Focus on one option at a time, research it well and let God use circumstances to guide us.
·         It is easy to get sidetracked by too much information when we are trying to make a big decision. That usually results in us making a bad decision. So research one option at a time and then let God use that research to show us the way forward.

          Proverbs 4:25-26
Let your eyes look forward; fix your gaze straight ahead. 26 Carefully consider the path for your feet, and all your ways will be established.

The scripture tell us to “fix our gaze straight ahead.” We cannot look in four directions at once if we hope to make a good choice.
  • The scripture tells us to carefully consider the path. We often make choices without doing adequate research. We should do the research needed to make a wise choice.
  • Once we have researched each option it is amazing how much clearer things become.

4.                     Consider how our decision impacts others and make the choice that is BEST for everyone involved.

          1 Corinthians 8:4, 7, 13
4About eating food offered to idols, then, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no God but one. 7However, not everyone has this knowledge. In fact, some have been so used to idolatry up until now, that when they eat food offered to an idol, their conscience, being weak, is defiled. 13Therefore, if food causes my brother to fall, I will never again eat meat that has been offered to idols, so that I won't cause my brother to fall.

  • When this scripture was written, many people worshipped idols instead of God.
  • A big part of idol worship was to leave a piece of meat in front of the idol for it to eat. Obviously the meat was never eaten by the idol because it was just a statue, not a living being. After the meat had sat around a while, it would be sold at the market to generate money for the idol’s temple. The meat was sold at a significant discount because it was old.
  • Some Christians bought this cheap meat because they were poor and it was all they could afford. Other Christians thought this meat was cursed because it had been used in idol worship. This was causing conflict between Christians.
  • The apostle Paul said that since the idol was just a statue, it had no power to curse the meat. Therefore, if Christians wanted to eat it, they could.
  • BUT – Paul also pointed out that if eating the meat was going to confuse some Christians who did not understand that it was okay, then he would personally not eat it.
  • The point Paul was making was that Christians should take into consideration how our choices affect the people around us.
  • Though we live in a very “me-centered” culture, Christians are called to think of others.
  • We are all part of various groups (family, church, workplace, sports team, life-long friends, clubs, etc.) and the choices we make impact those groups. Christians should take that impact into consideration when we make decisions.
  • This does not mean that Christians should be slaves to peer pressure. It just means we should think about how our actions affect others and do what is best for all.
  • Doing what is BEST for all is different than doing what makes everyone HAPPY. Happiness comes and goes, but we will never regret making a wise decision that is BEST for all.


Four Steps in Making Good Decisions:
1.      Commit to do whatever the Bible says.
2.      Spend time praying.
3.      Focus on one option at a time, research it well and let God use circumstances to guide us.
4.      Consider how our decisions impact others and make the choice that is BEST for everyone involved.

Dr. Terry W. Dorsett is a church planter in New England. He is a happy husband, proud father, thankful cancer survivor, and the author of numerous books aimed at helping small churches become healthier and individual Christians grow in their faith. You can find his books at:


  1. Amen, God will never contradict His word.

  2. This is great Terry. In fact, you've provided a simple outline that pastors could preach from. Very nice.