This process can be applied to any situation where you need to make an important decision. If you follow these ten basic steps, you will find yourself making wiser decisions in your professional as well as your personal life. Just remember, Proverbs 16:33 The lot is cast into the lap, But its every decision is from the LORD. When a person slogs through life being blown by every wind, it is sadly a lack of asking for godly wisdom.
- Define, as specifically as possible, what the decision is that needs to be made. Is this really your decision or someone else's? Do you really need to make a decision? (If you do not have at least two options, there is no decision to be made.) When does the decision need to be made? Why is this decision important to you? Who will be affected by this decision? What values does this decision involve for you?
Daniel 4:17 'This decision is by the decree of the watchers, And the sentence by the word of the holy ones, In order that the living may know That the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, Gives it to whomever He will, And sets over it the lowest of men.'
- Write down as many alternatives as you can think of. Brainstorm as many different alternatives as you can imagine. Let your imagination run free and try not to censure anything; this is not the time to be judgmental. Just be sure to write everything down.
2 Samuel 24:12 “Go and tell David, 'Thus says the LORD: “I offer you three things; choose one of them for yourself, that I may do it to you.” ' ” Notice in the following verses, those choices were not pleasant. Seven years of famine in Israel, three months of running from his enemies, or three days of plague. David wisely chose to fall into God’s hands. 2 Samuel 24:14 And David said to Gad, “I am in great distress. Please let us fall into the hand of the LORD, for His mercies are great; but do not let me fall into the hand of man.”
- Think where you could find more information about possible alternatives. If you only come up with a few options, you may want to get more information. Additional information generally leads to more alternatives. One of the most accurate places is through prayer. God will call to your mind things that you may have forgotten, or lead you to a source you never knew about.
Psalm 121:1 I will lift up mine eyes unto the LORD, from whence cometh my help.
- Write down all of your options, then sort through them. Now that you have your list of alternatives, it is time to begin evaluating them to see which one works for you. Beside each option, write down the values that would come into play for each alternative: morals, principles, monetary cost, and things not so obvious such as how that decision would effect family, spouse, children, parents. Second, look for the alternatives which would allow you to use the greatest number of your values. Third, cross the alternatives off the list which do not fit into your personal value framework.
David chose to put himself in God’s hand over and over again. Joseph reaped the huge benefit of forgiveness toward his brothers. Boaz reaped the benefit of choosing family duty and he stands in the lineage of Jesus. (Of course, Ruth’s beauty was also an added benefit.)
- Visualize the outcomes of each alternative. For each remaining alternative on your list, picture what the outcome of that alternative will look like. Here, too, it helps if you write out your impressions. Jeremiah hashed out his question to God, “Why do the wicked prosper?” In chapter 12, he drew the complete picture.
- Do a reality check. Which of your remaining alternatives are most likely to happen? Sometimes it is fun to daydream about beaches and mountains or winning the lottery, but reality eventually sets in so cross off those alternatives that most likely will not happen to you.
Job 42:1-6 Then Job answered the LORD and said: 2 “I know that You can do everything, And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You. 3 You asked, 'Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?' Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. 4 Listen, please, and let me speak; You said, 'I will question you, and you shall answer Me.' 5 “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You. 6 Therefore I abhor myself, And repent in dust and ashes.”
- Which alternative fits you? Review your remaining alternatives and decide which ones feel most comfortable to you. These are your wise decisions. If you are very happy about a decision, but are not as comfortable with its possible outcome, this is a clue that this is not a wise decision for you. On the other hand, you may dislike an alternative, but be very excited about the possible outcome. This decision would probably not be wise for you either. If you feel you can not only live with both the alternative as well as the possible outcome, but are also excited about it, then this is the wise decision you should follow. Remember God is most present in a decision when we are fearful we can accomplish it. This makes much more room for God to work, and lessens our vise-like grasp on the reins.
Exodus 3:11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” 12 So He said, “I will certainly be with you. And this shall be a sign to you that I have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.”
- Get started! Once you have made your decision, get moving on it. Worrying or second-guessing yourself will only cause grief. You have done your very best for the present. Trust God to let you know you must make a change in direction for He absolutely will if your desire is to obey Him. Remember, no decision is set in stone, except those decreed by God, of course.
Exodus 4:18 So Moses went and returned to Jethro his father-in-law, and said to him, “Please let me go and return to my brethren who are in Egypt, and see whether they are still alive.” And Jethro said to Moses, “Go in peace.” God gave Moses a clear plan of action before Moses ever confronted Pharoah. His bullet points were the plagues ending with the Angel of Death moving through Egypt taking all the first born.
- How is it going? Be sure to review your decision at pre-determined points along the road. Are the outcomes what you expected? Are you happy with the outcomes? Do you want to let the decision stand or would you like to make some adjustments? If the decision did not come out the way you planned, go through the complete decision-making process again. In the process, answer the following questions: Did I not have enough information? What values actually came into play? Were they my values or someone else's? Remember, God is very generous with godly wisdom, so never stop asking Him for it. He will guide you as no other can.
(This process was inspired by the Small Business Administration's advice on making business decisions.)