All of us make hundreds of little decisions each day. “What shoes shall I wear? Will I drink tea or coffee? One sugar or two?” But occasionally, we are faced with a major life decision. One that sets the course of our life for years to come.
I’ve faced many of these life-altering questions along the way: “Should I drop out of Georgia Tech and transfer to Covenant College? (Yes) Should I ask Josephine Gitonga to marry me? (Yes) Should we move our family to London? (Yes)
Of course, the scriptures guide us in many decisions (Should I kill my mother? No!!) but much of life is lived in the grey spaces outside the clear teaching of the bible. In a very practical sense, biblical wisdom is therefore making good decisions when the Bible isn’t clear.
Over the years, as I have thought about my own life decisions and had discussions with other Christians, I’ve developed a series of questions which can help bring clarity. Assuming the scriptures aren’t clear with an answer, here are 5 questions to ask before making a life-altering decision:
Opportunity – What options are before me?
Yes, there are times when we should do something completely outside the norm. But usually, our life-altering decisions arise because there is an opportunity in front of us to be seized. Could I have moved to Mongolia instead of London many years ago? Yes, but I didn’t know anyone in Mongolia and have no idea how I would have done that. I was invited to consider moving to London in 2000 and that invitation opened up an opportunity I had never considered before.
Ability – Do I have the skills to do this?
We all have dreams. I’d love to play for Arsenal but that’s never going to happen. No matter how hard I tried, I didn’t have the talent to play world class football (soccer). If you don’t currently have the skills, is this an ability that can be learned? Are there years of schooling or practice in your future?
Benefit – Does this benefit others?
Our calling is to be a steward or manager of the life God has given us. Is this opportunity before you something that benefits your family, your community or others (the poor, the widow, the orphan and the immigrant). Or will this increase the likelihood that your time, energy and effort will be expended solely for your own personal comfort and pleasure? Idolatry of self is serious business – be very careful in making a decision primarily because it will “make me happy.”
Community – What do my family, friends and church members think?
Our western society continues to place the individual at the top of any decision making process. “Do what feels good! Search inside your heart for the answers!” Yes, we are individual made in the image of God. But for me, I’m also a husband, father, son, brother, church member and friend. If you are facing a life-altering decision, you need the input of those who love and support you. Don’t make a major decision alone.
Desire – Is the Spirit giving me peace about this?
Jesus told us that he would leave the Helper to guide us in his absence. Do we really believe that the 3rd person of the trinity lives within us? If so, isn’t it reasonable to assume that the Holy Spirit will guide us through a difficult decision? After the first 4 questions have been thought through, the final question is simple: prayerfully ask, “What do I want to do?”
Often there is no right and wrong decision. We make a choice and follow through with our commitments. Think carefully through the opportunities before you, pray and make a decision. Then live with the consequences of that decision to the best of your ability.
And know that the Creator of the universe is smiling upon you. Not because you’ve made the “right” decision but because you are united to Christ by faith.