Everyone wants to make solid decisions with conviction and confidence. Decisions they can stand firm in and be unwavering.
A few summers ago I built decks and did some remodeling with a friend and mentor of mine to make some extra coin during our slow time in the summer. The buddy I worked with is raw yet gentle, loves his family and his God in a truly gritty and authentic way, works with his hands, has a beard, can lift an absurd amount of weight compared to his size, and eats cheese by the block. And he drive a pickup truck.
It was a four week span of hot days, hard work, and rich conversations that I couldn’t help but think: This is what it must have been like working with Jesus.
One of the subjects we talked a lot about was decision making – specifically decisions pertaining to God’s will. He’s made some pretty tough decisions in last years, ones that changed the path of his family (for the better), but flew in the face of conventional cultural wisdom, and were not very popular amongst even his closest friends, family, and allies.
Have you ever met (or been) one of those people who says things like, “I really felt like God was calling me to [insert decision].” Only to not follow through on that decision or change direction shortly thereafter?
Have you ever been that person? (If not, stop reading now.)
I have. I’ve been unwavering like this more than I’d like to admit over the years.
So how do we make better, sounder decisions with a high assurance that we are heading in a God-honoring and fruitful direction?
My deck-building-Jesus-like friend shared an incredibly helpful framework with me – We call them The 4 S’s. But first let’s take a look at how people usually make decisions.
Follow These 4 Steps to Make Half-Assed Decisions, Decisions You Won’t Stand Behind When the Going Gets Tough, and Decisions You’ll Most Likely Regret.
Step 1: Let circumstances put you in a reactionary state where you are responding primarily to the situation and circumstances.
Step 2: Find people (really anyone) to give you input on the decision you are already leaning towards according to the circumstances you are in (usually these people aren’t close enough to call us on any bullshit you are convincing yourself of, and we likely find people who will simply affirm what you want to hear). These people will perpetuate the lies you’re already telling yourself, like:
“You deserve this.”
“God just wants you to be happy.”
“God would never ask you to give that up.”
“You’ve got to do what’s right for YOU.”
And other various forms of horse poo.
Step 3: Then, scan your bible and cherry pick the verses that affirm the decision you’ve already made or are convincing yourself to make (either subconsciously or consciously). Simultaneously ignore any Truth that may cross your will or cause you to go in an uncomfortable direction.
Step 4 (Optional): Consult the Holy Spirit about what decision you should be making.
This is how most people make decisions (including myself at times). Yet this is backwards of how we need to be making decisions as leaders.
The Result: This process generally results in whimbly bimbly conviction, no perseverance, and zero resolve in your decisions. Unwisely changing course, abandoning ship, and burdensome questioning are all results of this faulty decision making framework. You wonder why you feel misled or unsure of your decision shortly after you make it – specifically when thing get hard. This often leads to feelings of failure, discouragement, and no progress.
When our decisions are rooted primarily in circumstance it is too easy to lack the conviction and perseverance, and be wishy-washy (that’s a technical term) when the time comes to standing on and behind our decisions.
…or you can…
Follow These 4 Steps to Make Bulletproof Decisions You Can Stand Firm On (The 4 S’s)
Step 1 & 2 (generally done in parallel): Scripture + Spirit
When decisions need to be made the first place you go (and should already be) is to scripture where you encounter the Holy Spirit. (Ideally) you are already resting and abiding in Truth daily in order to make sound decisions when the need to make them arises. You are consistently communing with Him throughout your days, weeks, years…and lives.
Step 3: Saints
The next tier of guidance and support in decision making must come from the saints in your life. These are the men and women – mentors and peers – who ask the hard questions, give no-BS guidance, and support you in the decisions you are working through. These are not surface-y friends who you go to to get affirmations or for them to tell you what you want to hear. That is what facebook friends and the “like” button is for. These are saints who know the difference between feedback and pushback, and tend to give you the latter.
Step 4: Circumstances*
The final, and optional, step to making sound decisions is circumstances. Often, if you’ve engaged the Spirit in scripture (step 1 & 2) and sought Godly counsel (step 3), then the circumstances will command very little attention and hold little weight in your decision making process. If you’ve effectively progressed through steps 1-3, you will be in a proactive state and be resilient and uninfluenced when the circumstances change and new ones arrive.
*I know that Circumstances starts with a C, but phonetically it sounds like an S and “The 4 S’s” sounds way better than “The 3 S’s and 1 C of Decision Making”…I’m sure you can appreciate this. ;)
The Result: Bulletproof Decisions
The result is sound decisions you can be certain of – the kind that lay on the solid bedrock of scripture and calling. Our Spirit-led decisions, based on and in Scripture, having been put through the critical gauntlet of Godly friendship and mentorship, are less likely to be clouded with doubt or swaying. And the confidence and conviction in our decision is far more than the reactionary, circumstance-based decisions made by the rest of the world.
“We will not be rushed or distracted by external noise.” -Ryan Holiday
When faced with decisions we must try:
To be unhurried.
To balance contemplation and action.
To be in a proactive state.
To remove circumstance as a primary factor.
To be objective and self-aware of our emotional bent.
To seek first His truth.
To be open to letting God cross our will.
To encourage not just feedback but pushback.