Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Art of Decision Making

As most of my readers probably know (if I have any more than the two that I know of), I have come face to face with a difficult decision to make. One that was made in cooperation with my wife whom I love and cherish. While this decision has been a hard one to make, I believe that she and I have made the right one, and that God is leading us in this direction. The decision being that we will be moving back down south to my hometown of Birmingham. Of course, now there are multiple other decisions to be made as well. Questions that arise would be things like: How soon should we move? When should I turn in my resignation? How are we going to pay for moving expenses? How long will it take for us to close on a House? etc. And all need some type of response, even if the response is to temporarily put it on hold until you have more information to make an educated decision. Which brings me to the point of this post.

Decision making is simultaneously incredibly easy and arduous. It's easy for some people to decide what they want to wear for the day (especially for people like me who just throw on whatever they see first as long as it matches), and there are others (to use a stereotype) who will spend hours trying to find that "perfect dress" for the occasion. We make decisions all the time without a second glance until we hit a point in our lives when the decision we make will have ramifications, good or bad, on our life. That is when many people begin to hesitate, and rightly so, about what kind of decision they should make. We all desire to make wise, good, and right decisions, but how do we do it?

I think one of first ways we should approach a decision is through logic. As I stated in a previous post, God has gifted us with a brain, and most of us can use this brain to come to logical, reasonable, and intellectual conclusions. So, it seems to me that it is only fitting to weigh out the pros and cons of a decision and approach it analytically because it is a waste of a gift that God has given to not use our brains. To go back to the decision I have had to make, when I looked at the decision from an analytical standpoint I realized that there would be a lot of good things that would come from moving down south, and not just good, but potentially healthy outcomes as well; some of which I have already seen beginning to come into fruition. So, then becomes this: Is the decision I am trying to make going to be good or bad for me?

Another approach that I believe we make as humans but do not usually think about doing it would be this approach of intuition. Many of us have had moments when a decision sounded like a good idea at the time, but something just felt wrong and thus decided to not to do whatever was suggested. This "gut" feeling can oftentimes lead to a prevention of a bad decision. For instance, if I am trying to make a hard decision and come to a conclusion about it I will either feel peace or unrest concerning my conclusion. These feelings, I believe, are partially coming from my intuition on whether or not I should pursue one thing or the other. The most amazing part of our intuition, I think, is that it is also a gift from God. It's almost as if God decided that he wanted us to make good decisions so he gave us multiple ways to approach a decision. Plus, I am sure that many of us would say that if we had not listened to our "guts" we would have probably ended up being miserable, dead, broke, etc.

Still another approach that I try to make is the opinion of my friends and family. In this, I usually have to proceed with caution because I know that if God is directing me one way beyond a shadow of a doubt, I cannot let the opinions of the ones I trust get in the way and cause me to hesitate if they disagree. That being said, I think there is great value in seeking the advice of people you trust to give you a straightforward answer. In Proverbs, Solomon alludes to the wisdom of taking council when making decisions multiple times, and the truth is humankind cannot sustain itself on the individual level. We are too wired to work cohesively as a united whole to be able to stand alone completely. That is what I believe, and truthfully "the proof is in the pudding" as the saying goes.

Finally, of course would be our approach to God with the decision we want to make. This approach is often associated with looking for the "will of God". Yet, as I said previously, that really is not the question we want to ask. What I, at least, am asking is quite simply: "What do you think?" Sometimes He will tell me directly what he thinks, and other times He waits for me to make a decision just to see what I'll do. I suppose it is similar to what a parent would do with their child growing up. Sometimes, the parent has to tell the child how to act because they do not know any better, and other times the parent can walk the child through the decision making process, teaching them how to think for themselves (even to think critically depending on the context). I believe that God operates in much the same way with us, His children. And God knows and understands better the things we could never hope to, which is why I feel that decisions, specifically "big" ones, should not be made without God's input.

Oddly, when I started writing this post I did not expect it to come out in such a formulaic fashion, but that is how it turned out as I wrote my thoughts. Decision making is anything but formulaic, but I suppose, at least for me, seeing the different approaches that can and probably should be made is helpful.

Grace and Peace

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