Have you ever stopped to think about how many decisions we have to make? There are countless little daily choices, and over the course of a year (or sometimes a month) several significant ones. When we come to a substantial fork in the road, how do we decide which path to take?
When the decision involves something that is clearly addressed in Scripture, it is much easier. We can get out our concordance and/or topical Bible and look up the situation and read God’s clearly revealed will. If one of the paths obviously goes against his commands, we know which path to avoid.
Those decisions are no-brainers as far as deciding what to do. (The follow through and obeying God’s will becomes the tough part in many cases, but the decision itself is clear.)
But what do we do when the issue is not so clear cut? What about those times when we are choosing between two good things? How do we know which way is the right way for us in this particular time of our life?
In the rest of the post, I share with you the process I’ve used to help me make a difficult decision. And, I’ve made you a summary of the five practices I use in these types of situations.
Choosing Between Two Good Things
That is the particular fork in the road at which I now find myself. I have a decision to make between two seemingly right choices. So, I’ve been wrestling through the process of determining which path to choose.
Maybe one day in the future the following words will be an active link to a post with a neat and tidy process for arriving at a conclusion. But right now, I don’t have one.
Instead, what I can offer you is a look into the messy means I’ve been using and the questions I’ve been asking myself as I seek God’s will in my current situation.
Pray Without Ceasing
In many places, the Scriptures tell us to pray continually, with perseverance, and without ceasing. (1 Thessalonians 5:17; Romans 12:12; Philippians 4:6; Ephesians 6:18, just to name a few) So, I’ve prayed for God’s guidance, for spiritual discernment and godly wisdom. I’ve asked him to make it clear which path he wants me to take.
Prepare with a Constant Quest
I’ve been working on memorizing Romans 12:2 (NIV).
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing, and perfect will.”
If we are to be prepared to discern God’s will, we must have our minds trained by a consistent exposure to God’s Word. The writer of Hebrews agreed and challenged believers to mature and grow in our ability to digest God’s truth (see Hebrews 5:14) so that we are able to move beyond the easy to digest and pursue the more meaty morsels.
This continual chewing on the Word gives us:
- More in our storehouse to draw upon when we need to make a decision.
- Stronger, well-trained spiritual discernment muscles so we are better prepared to wrestle with the tougher choices.
When we are on a constant quest to digest the Word of God, our minds will be trained and tuned to resonate with God’s will. When he speaks in his still small voice, our spirit vibrates in accord.
I’ve felt a strong sense of God restraining me whenever I lean toward one path. Saying no to the opportunity offered by this path makes no sense according to the world’s wisdom. Yet, my spiritual gut is tied in knots whenever I contemplate pursuing that way.
Monitor My Motives
Philippians 2:3 exhorts “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.”
As I consider whether to say yes or no to this opportunity, I have spent time with God examining my motivation.
Here are some questions I’ve asked myself:
- Would this path tempt me to source my identity and security in what it offers rather than in Christ alone? Would I be allowing this circumstance to provide my sense of significance rather than getting that from God?
- If I said yes, would it have a form of godliness but deny it’s power (2 Timothy 3:5)? Would it look like I was being godly when in fact my motive is not solely God’s glory but my own?
Just because I don’t know how to do something, doesn’t mean God isn’t calling me to do it. Actually, in my experience, the opposite has been more often the case. When I don’t know how to do what he calls me to do, but I have a clear sense of peace and confirmation that he is in fact calling me to do it, I need to move in faith not fear.
This whole ministry has been an illustration of being called to do something I had no idea of how to accomplish. By obeying in spite of it taking me well outside my comfort zone, I depend on God to supply the means. Since it is obviously him making it happen, God gets the glory.
On the other hand, just because something falls within our area of giftedness and natural talents, doesn’t mean we are supposed to say yes.
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven” Ecclesiastes 3:1, ESV
Assess the Impact on Relationships
Jesus is clear about the priority of relationship over activity.
I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. —John 15:5, NIV
This is a real area of temptation for me. If I’m not intentional about my schedule, I can let my activities crowd out time for nurturing the most important relationships in my life.
Not only will I fray my connection with Jesus, but I will start dropping the ball with my family and close friends. That is clearly not the will of God!
So I’ve been asking myself questions related to my capacity to add in the additional responsibilities that would accompany this opportunity.
- Would saying yes improve or stress my relationship with Christ? Would it draw me closer to the vine or pull me away?
- Would taking this path result in activity that crowds out time for prayer, study, and being still before God?
- If I add these tasks, would I have the margin necessary to properly nurture my relationships with family and close friends? Or, would those relationships get short-changed?
Seek Godly Advice
Proverbs 11:14 says, “Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.” I’ve dug out my notes from sermons, Bible studies, and articles from trusted sources. I’ve sought the input of godly, mature Christians. And I’ve prayerfully considered all of this wise counsel.
I arrived at my decision today.
In fact, I think I’ve known for a few days now. But because it runs counter to what one would think the right decision should be, I’ve hesitated. I decided to decline the opportunity. I feel a deep sense of peace so even though my decision may perplex some, I believe it is the right one for me in this particular situation and season. At the end of the day, I think Solomon’s advice in Proverbs 3:5-6 is applicable:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge him and he will make straight your paths.”
Perhaps, in this case, it is less about which path and more about the journey with God. If I’m leaning into him and loving him and seeking to obey him, he will take whatever decision I make and work it to my good and his glory. (Romans 8:28)
Free Checklist of these 5 Practices
I thought it might be helpful for you to have a pretty summary of the key ideas in this post. So I made you a little checklist of the five practices I utilized in my decision-making process. Just click on the image or button below and I’ll email you the checklist instantly!
Your turn: How do you decide between two apparently good choices? You can leave a comment by clicking here.