How do you make the right decision?
This is the third in a series of a study of the proverbs. This study will help us to learn how to succeed in different areas of life, so that we can better serve our cities. Other articles in this series:
This article is an overview of what the proverbs say about decision-making.
For us Americans, we have a lot of stumbling blocks in this area. We’re told from the voices of the Zeitgeist that a person should “Follow your heart”, “Do what’s right for you”, and “The heart wants what the heart wants”. But a close look at these types of mantras reveals that our culture is just telling us to be selfish.
That’s not good decision-making. That’s narcissism.
Here is what the proverbs say about making good decisions. The goal is to make choices which not only benefit you, but benefit your family, your church, and your community.Our #culture is just telling us to be selfish. Click To Tweet
Honor God to Make a Good Decision
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight.
Honoring God in your decision has 2 aspects.
(1) Honor Him generally. Before you have to make any major decision at all, make your daily habits all about serving God. Train yourself to be holy. That way, when the time comes for you to make the decision, you’re already in the routine of doing what is best according to God’s Word.
(2) Honor Him specifically. God’s Word contains so much wisdom. No, it doesn’t say anything like “Take this job, not that one” or “Marry this person, not that one”. But it does instruct us (for example) to hold good occupations which help the community, and marry a person who loves God.
Be sure to search God’s Word for instructions which will make your decision more clear.
Get Counsel to Make a Good Decision
For lack of guidance a nation falls,
but many advisers make victory sure.
Plans fail for lack of counsel,
but with many advisers they succeed.
Everyone has people they respect and trust. People who have contributed directly in making you into the person you are today.
A parent. A boss. A pastor. A friend.
These people have been examples to you, and you have, at least in some ways, wanted to emulate them. Ask their advice.
You likely respect them because they have more experience than you in a certain area of life, and they have succeeded in ways you have not yet succeeded.
Gather their advice, like you would gather data. It’s not that you have to obey every word they say. Rather, you consider all the different things that these trusted people have to say. And when you’ve put together all the data, then you move forward in a decision.
Be Humble and Accept Instruction to Make a Good Decision
Listen to advice and accept instruction,
and in the end you will be wise.
We all need to admit that, sometimes, we are stupid. We are stupid, and others are smart.
This point is a lot like the last one, in that it involves listening to other people. But the distinction is that in the last point, we were instructed to seek counsel. But sometimes, people just give us counsel without us having asked for it.
And that always feels really good, right?
No. It feels awful. It makes us angry and self-righteous.
But sometimes… not always… but sometimes, those who approach us have really good advice which we should listen to. And we should have a heart-attitude that is open to it, instead of defensive against it.
Take Your Time to Make a Good Decision
It is not good to have zeal without knowledge,
nor to be hasty and miss the way.
It is a trap for a man to dedicate something rashly
and only later to consider his vows.
Sometimes, you have to make a split-second decision. Life or death. Now or never. In those cases, yeah, be decisive and be quick.
But those kinds of decisions are few and far between. Most often, you’ll have time to decide. And these proverbs counsel us not to be too hasty.
When first faced with a decision, we’re usually emotional and/or not thinking clearly due to the shock of the choice. Give yourself time to become level-headed. Things become more clear after a good night’s rest. Or after a week/month of good nights’ rest.
Use the time to pray and gather counsel.
Hard Work Over a Long Period of Time is Usually the Right Decision
The plans of the diligent lead to profit
as surely as haste leads to poverty.
No one wants to hear this. We want to hear, “Get rich quick,” or “follow your dreams.” But these proverbs tell us that diligence and hard work is usually the right decision.
Sorry for the clichés, but there’s no such thing as a free lunch, and if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
(There, got those out of my system.)
Consider the options facing you in your decision, and ask yourself which one requires discipline and perseverance, and will yield benefits over a long period of time. Go with that one.
That doesn’t mean that you never take risks. Investments (not just financial) can be very wise, despite their risks. But choose those investments which bring about a large return slowly. Not the ones where you can lose everything in a second.
In the end, your life is about honoring God, and so our decisions should be about what brings Him the most honor. It should not be about what brings us the most pleasure (although, there are many times when what is best for God’s honor incidentally brings us a lot of pleasure).
Fight against that which our culture tells us – that we must be selfish in order to succeed. Make good, God-honoring decisions which benefit yourself, your family, your church and your community.
Also published on Medium.