In this Wisdom Note, we will continue our series about making wise decisions. As humans, most of us are resistant and hesitant to change as we are comfortable with the habits that we have formed over our lifetimes. Habits can be both good and bad. One good habit that we want to foster in our lives is that of making wise decisions.
As with any skill in life, making wise decisions comes with practice and experience. C.S. Lewis said it well when he said, “Good and evil both increase at compound interest. That is why the little decisions you and I make every day are of such infinite importance.”
Since it is our desire to make wise decisions in all that we do, our 10 waypoints on this wisdom trail will help us to choose wisdom instead of folly in our decision-making. So, let’s continue this week and finish our wise decision-making trail with waypoints 7 through 10. Because of my faith walk, I will base our discussions of decision-making on Biblical principles.
7. Have I Honestly Considered the Warning Signs?
When we desire to make a particular decision, we tend to highlight the benefits and minimize the potential bad outcomes. Making wise decisions requires that we are honest with our advisors and ourselves. Take into consideration all the good advice that you have solicited. If those advisors have your best interest at heart, then their advice must be considered.
Proverbs 10:17, “People who accept discipline are on the pathway to life, but those who ignore correction will go astray.”
Proverbs 16:25, “There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.”
Proverbs 27:6, “Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy.”
Points to consider:
- Don’t think you are the “exception” to the rule. There are certain principles in life that are true for all persons. If a decision is not wise for someone else, be very cautious in thinking that it is okay for you. (self-delusion)
- Remember that God’s way is the best way. If there are warning signs, then no amount of justification will make the decision right. It is one thing to take a chance and quite another to be stupid. Sometimes that is a fine line.
8. Have I Considered the Possible Outcomes for My Course of Action?
When making decisions, especially major ones, it is best to make a list of all possible outcomes from this decision. Write them down, with potential benefits on one side and potential negatives on the other. Don’t forget to take in lost opportunities that will result in a “side effect” of this decision. For instance, if the decision involves a monetary purchase, you need to consider what other items you will not be able to purchase because of this decision. No decision is made in a vacuum. If you are saying yes to one choice, by default you are saying no to something else.
Proverbs 14:1, “A wise woman builds her home, but a foolish woman tears it down with her own hands.”
Proverbs 14:15, “Only simpletons believe everything they’re told! The prudent carefully consider their steps.”
Proverbs 27:12, “A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.”
Points to consider:
- Take into consideration all information that will be impacted by this decision. Don’t rationalize your desires.
- Assess the potential risks. There are negative potential outcomes for every decision made. “Yes” to this decision means “no” to another.
- Have a contingency plan. If everything just went wrong based on the decision made, what are your plans that will allow you to survive?
9. Could This Decision Jeopardize My Integrity or Hinder My Witness for the Lord?
Never make a decision that has the potential to hurt your reputation, hinder your integrity, or destroy your character. There is nothing in life that is worth obtaining if it will tarnish who you are as a person, especially as a person of faith.
Proverbs 25:26, “If the godly give in to the wicked, it’s like polluting a fountain or muddying a spring.”
Proverbs 10:9, “People with integrity walk safely, but those who follow crooked paths will be exposed.”
Proverbs 20:7, “The godly walk with integrity; blessed are their children who follow them.”
Proverbs 22:1, “Choose a good reputation over great riches; being held in high esteem is better than silver or gold.”
Points to consider:
- As with most principles of life, when it comes to making wise decisions, you need to remain balanced without going to extremes in your decision-making.
- Make sure you do not make any decisions that would soil your reputation. Would you want this decision published on the front page of the newspaper or social media post?
- Don’t keep a record of wrongs committed by others, it will have a negative impact on the wise decisions that you need to make.
10. Is There A Better Option That Would Allow Me to Make A Greater Impact for God’s Kingdom?
As mentioned at waypoint #8, for every decision or choice we say yes to, we are saying no to something else. Ask yourself, “Is this decision that I am making the best choice or option for me at this season in life?” A decision that may not be wise today, could be wise 20 years from now. For every decision, always ask “Is this the best and wisest decision that I can make for today considering this season of life?”
Proverbs 11:30, “The seeds of good deeds become a tree of life; a wise person wins friends.”
Ecclesiastes 3:1, “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.”
Points to consider:
- Ask yourself, “What story could God be writing?”
- Don’t assume that just because something is hard that it is not God’s will.
- Understand how God has uniquely gifted and resourced you.
We have explored the 10 waypoints that will help you to make wise decisions every day for every situation that you encounter. Next week we will learn the advantages of walking with a limp. Based on my experience this past year, I will have some practical advice.