Wisdom. We all need it. But let’s be honest, sometimes making the best right decision is not always easy nor clear. I wish the Bible gave clear-cut instructions on everything I would face in my life but it doesn’t.
There are clear principles however that the Bible and other meaningful people and books make available which can help when faced with making larger than life decisions. I’ve had to make several “life-altering” decisions throughout my 45 years and here are a few things I have learned to practice before I take the next big step.
It seems like an easy thing to just say pray but I mean really PRAY! Often it’s easy to simply look at prayer as asking God to bless a decision we are already settled in. But prayer is really about aligning with what God wants. Before taking any step or making any decision, spending ample time in prayer and even fasting, allows God’s Spirit, Word and people to confirm His direction in for life. Big decisions have big impacts and sometimes those impacts are unseen. Therefore spending time in prayer unseen with a God who sees in secret, will let God show you in visible and invisible ways as to what do.
Narrow Your Options.
I have found that when I have a BIG decision to make that it’s not often once decision but multiple ones simultaneously. If it’s not several decisions, it’s one decision that forces other decisions to be made. As much as possible, narrow down the decisions to one or two. Pare down the choices. It’s funny that if I go to Redbox not knowing what I want to watch, I could sit there for several minutes scrolling through choice upon choice. This same process happens when I go to Walmart or the mall. Not knowing what I am really looking for opens up so many options and eats up a lot of time! Narrowing down your options to the type of thing you really want will assist greatly in making the right decision. But you have to give it prayer and thought first. Don’t just choose something because you can. You want to make a deliberate, intentional GOOD decision.
Because decisions don’t just affect us alone, it’s a good practice to invite the input of other significant people in your life. This could be parents, friends, pastors, coaches, or mentors. You want to include people who know you and know your heart. You will want to communicate your reasons for and or against a decision. It is also important to remember that even good decisions can be hard to make but even harder to follow through. They can be hard on you AND the people you love and who love you. This is why talking through major life decisions with significant others is vitally important.
Pay Attention To Your Passions.
There are some decisions that can quickly be eliminated when this principle is followed. Many people make decisions based on money or prestige more than their passion. Sadly, many cannot simply do what they love all the time. But it is possible to find something you love to do most of the time. Leaning into a job, career move, or life move will become much clearer when you know what you are passionate about and what you are not. Decisions should be made with your heart and your head, so paying attention to your passions will help keep you from moving from place to place unhappily.
Spend Some Time Alone.
I feel like this has been a critical step for me in the past. It gives me time to quiet all the other well-meaning voices in my life and head and truly listen to my own thoughts, heart and feelings. I feel like a weekend to perhaps several days of planned silence (which can be spread throughout a couple months period if you don’t have t make a decision immediately) is very effective and necessary when seeking to make a huge next step in life. Solitude and silence often help make things much clearer when approaching a new step or phase in life. I feel like for anyone making major decisions, scheduling time to be alone, in prayer and in planning, is a must do!
I recommend during taking some time alone to look backwards and ask a few hard questions:
How did I get to where I am?
Am I happy where I am doing what I have been doing?
What do I regret/celebrate about where I am?
Was this part of the plan?
What do I take with me into the future?
What do I leave behind?
There may be other important questions that you need to ask yourself and maybe others before moving on. The reason I see this as a crucial element in making the decision is because you don’t want to miss any lessons or landmarks from the current situation. God allows us the chance to grow and learn from mistakes but He also wants us to be thankful and celebrate His goodness. Looking backwards gives pause to do just that.
At some point a decision must be made. When that time comes, make it. Be bold. Be courageous. Be deliberate. And move forward. As hard as it may be to let go of some things, people or even roles, the next big step may require you to move on and to do so, you have to make that decision and follow through. Embrace the unknown and know that Christ is with you as you go. So go!
I believe that if you are able to practice these 7 smaller steps, it will certainly help when the next big step comes. Is there anything else you would recommend? Comment and join the conversation.
George Lockhart is a missionary with Vision 2 Hear and serves as the mission/creative pastor at New Vision Church in Fayetteville, GA.