What does this year have in store for you?
The turning of the calendar is often the catalyst for people to make decisions – some minor, some major; some suddenly thrust upon us, some avoided for too long.
What about you? What decisions are you weighing up right now as you consider the year ahead?
Before we talk about “how,” here are two foundational truths for making good decisions:
Jeremiah 29:11“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “Plans for good, not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
Romans 12:2Then you will know the good, acceptable and perfect will of God
In other words…God has a great future planned for you, and He doesn’t intend it to be kept a secret from you. He wants you to know what it is and live it out.
My kitchen has a filtered water system installed. It uses a simple cartridge filter system, with seven layers designed to progressively filter out as much of the unnecessary, unhealthy, unhelpful elements as possible, eventually leaving us with clear, pure, healthy water to drink.
Similarly, I’ve developed a simple choice filter system, with seven layers designed to progressively filter out as much of the unnecessary, unhealthy, unhelpful options as possible, eventually leaving us with clear, pure, healthy choices to make.
So, to help you sift through the (possibly confusing) options/choices/decisions in front of you, here is A Filtering Process for Making the Right Choice. As you work through each layer of the filter in order, consider honestly if your option is blocked. If not it can continue on to the next layer, until it is either blocked or comes out as a healthy option for you.
- WORD OF GOD
What does God’s Word (The Bible) say, and what has God said specifically to you? If you’re not sure, you might want to ask someone who knows the Bible well, to point you in the right direction.
It is no accident that this layer is at the very top. If one of your “options” contravenes the Word of God then it’s not even an option worth considering. Throw it out, right now!
Psalm 119:105Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light to my path.
Proverbs 3:5,6Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track.
What do the trusted voices of wisdom in your life say about your possible decision? Often these are the people closest to you, who know you the best. They should also include people in positions of spiritual authority (eg your pastors and leaders) who you are connected with.
Some of these people may be a trusted voice of wisdom in one area of life (eg financial decisions), but not in another (eg parenting).
Proverbs 15:22Plans go wrong for lack of advice; many advisers bring success.
The challenge is that you can find someone who’ll say Yes to anything if you look hard enough and ask enough people. Make sure you’re getting the right advice from the right people – wisdom is tried and proven over time.
An outside, objective view can bring clarity to your decision making, even if sometimes it may not be what we wanted to hear!
James 1:5If anyone lacks wisdom they should ask God, who gives it generously.
What does your “knower” say? Learn to listen to that “inner voice” that often confirms whether you’re making good choice or not. Romans 8:16 His Spirit Bears witness with our spirit…
This inner confirmation can often be described as a sense of peace and confidence in the decision you’re making.
Every one of us is wired differently to fulfil the different plans and purposes God has for us. If you’ve still got an option (or options) at this layer that you’re unsure about, ask yourself “What does my wiring say?” ie, what fires your passion and what fizzes your passion?
The gifts, talents, and abilities God has given you, are a pretty good indicator of the kind of life He wants you to choose.
5. WAY YOU’RE WALKING
What does your purpose say? Does this choice/decision/option move you closer to your purpose or further away from it?
Life seems to have a way of throwing detours and distractions at us which will distance us and delay us from making the choices we really need to make. A bit of relentless resolve about the direction your life is heading will go a long way to avoiding some of the unhelpful (albeit often well-meaning) options you’ll inevitably be presented with. An option may be excellent for one person whose life is heading towards “X” but disastrous for another person whose life is meant to head towards “Y.”
I believe a vital decision in setting the course of your life is to connect yourself into the vision and purpose of a great local church – where there is clear commitment to helping people follow Jesus, an eternal kingdom perspective, and a passion for making a difference and living for a cause greater than ourselves.
What do you want? What do your heart desires say?
Psalm 37:4Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.
So, what do you want?
If (note: IF!) your option doesn’t get filtered out by the first five layers, then probably the choice is yours. This can sound stange or even selfish to someone who is desperately wanting to choose God’s good, perfect and acceptable will for their life, but remember He puts desires in you for a reason – it’s all part of directing you towards God’s plan and purpose for your life.
7. WAIT & “WELAX”
What if you get all the way through the filter layers, and still you can’t make a clear choice? Keep doing the best you can with what you’ve got in your hand right now. You might hear people talking about “waiting on the Lord.” This phrase in the Bible isn’t intended as a passive, sit-back-and-do-nothing attitude. Rather it has a sense of active attentiveness and anticipation, like a waiter “waiting” on tables.
If you’re heading in the right direction while driving a car using your GPS, the built-in navigator won’t say anything unless you need to change direction, make a turn etc. If God hasn’t given you new instructions, just keep doing the last thing He told you!
What if I make a wrong decision?
The truth is there are only 2 or 3 BIG decisions in life which affect your whole life – eg the decision to follow Jesus, the decision about who you marry. Virtually every decision we make in life can be redirected if needed, although there may often be some pain involved.
Ultimately I believe that if your motivation is to seek first the kingdom of God and His ways, pressing toward the upward calling He has for your life, then as you make the best decisions you can with the information you have based on something like the layers of this filter, you just have to believe the steps of good people are ordered by the Lord (Psalm 37:23).
I look forward to hearing how this Decision Making Filter helps you!