In this Wisdom Note, we will begin a new series about making wise decisions. Every day each of us is faced with numerous choices, which require us to make decisions. Our objective in producing Wisdom-Trek is not just to help you make decisions, but to teach you to make wise decisions, and even more so to make legacy-creating decisions.
Wisdom is an attribute that we should all strive for in our lives. As mentioned before, I personally rely on the Bible, which I consider to be God’s Word, as my basis and foundation for wisdom.
Gaining wisdom is not unlike establishing other good habits in our lives, whether those habits are eating properly, staying physically fit, or learning some new skill. We perfect those habits by properly practicing them each day. In the same manner, the more that we make wise decisions, the wiser we become, and the easier it is to make wise decisions in the future.
“Making wise decisions can become a habit in your life.”
While the Bible, other literature, and information we study do not address every decision that we will face each day specifically, there are principles in the Bible and elsewhere that help us to foster a wise decision-making matrix within our lives. The question that we are all faced with is what should we do when the Bible doesn’t seem to speak directly to the situations we face and the decisions we need to make?
In our next couple of Wisdom Notes, we will stop by 10 waypoints that will help us to make wise decisions when there are not clear commands, guidelines, or direction. Because of my faith walk, I will base our discussions of decision-making on Biblical principles. If you happen to have a different basis for your value system, these points will still apply to your decision-making process.
Our first waypoint question is:
1. What are the principles that should form my decision-making matrix?
We first need to understand where wisdom ultimately comes from. Although there are many wise individuals from whom we can glean practical sage advice, when you look for the basis of this wisdom, it is rooted in the Bible. God has blessed certain individuals with the gift of presenting this wisdom in ways that help us to understand it better. Based on this premise, we acknowledge and understand that God is the ultimate source of that wisdom as is described in these verses.
Proverbs 2:6, “For the Lord grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding.”
Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”
Now that we understand where true wisdom comes from, we need to determine some basic guidelines for making decisions. What is the eventual purpose of any decision that we need to make? Many decisions that we make may have multiple purposes, and we need to determine what they are. The final conclusion of all decisions that we make, whether they are large or small, should be to bring glory to God.
1 Corinthians 10:31, “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
When making decisions on business partners, financial partners, or a marriage partner, we need to be very careful who we associate with, especially if the partner(s) will exercise some control over our decision-making process. All partnering on life’s trek should only be done only with those individuals that share our same values and beliefs, otherwise, there is potential for conflict that impacts our values, beliefs, and, ultimately, our integrity.
2 Corinthians 6:14, “Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness?”
Proverbs 22:7, “Just as the rich rule the poor, so the borrower is a servant to the lender.”
When making decisions, the outcomes should always be honorable and right. Do not make decisions that are contrary to your values.
Philippians 4:8, “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”
The preliminary questions that you need to ask as you are forming your decision-making matrix are:
- Does the Bible have a clear direction on this, or does it conform to the guidelines listed above?
- Who do I consider wise and knowledgeable that can help me better understand what God’s Word says about this decision?
- Am I making a decision that is contrary to what wise counsel has recommended?
2. Do I have all the facts about the decision that I am making?
When you need to make a decision and you have processed the first step, then make sure that you have all the facts needed to make a wise decision. I realize that you could become too anal and never make a decision due to paralysis by analysis, but you should not be too hasty to decide until you have all the facts needed.
Proverbs 18:13, “Spouting off before listening to the facts is both shameful and foolish.”
Proverbs 18:17, “The first to speak in court sounds right — until the cross-examination begins.”
Questions to consider when determining if you have all the facts:
- Have I asked enough of the appropriate questions for this decision?
- Have I fallen prey to “wishful thinking” or let my emotions get the best of me?
- Have I remembered that there are two sides to every story and considered all possibilities?
Consider these first two waypoints in your decision-making process in order to make wise decisions. We will continue on the trail as we explore the 10 principles for making wise decisions in our next note.