Have you ever wondered how to make tough decisions well? You’ve probably had to make some over the last few weeks due to COVID-19 and its impact. You’ll probably make more in the coming days. How do I know? Because recently, I’ve Zoomed, Slacked, and had calls with many friends and when I ask how I can pray for them, the answer is universal: “I’ve got to make some tough decisions.”
Those decisions include, “How can I possibly work from home and help my kids with online school at the same time?” “I just got laid off. How can I get another job when no one is hiring?” “My elderly mom is at home all alone. Who is going to take care of her?” “My spouse and I are at home all day and all we do is bicker. What should I do?” There are hundreds of other questions we have and tough decisions we need to make. Here is the one thing we need to make them.
What is wisdom? Author and pastor John Piper says, “The greatest human wisdom is the factual knowledge and the situational insight and the necessary resolve that together will succeed in attaining full and everlasting happiness.” He says Divine wisdom is that in perfect form. My simple yet imperfect definition of wisdom is this: understanding God’s ways and applying them.
My simple yet imperfect definition of wisdom is this: understanding God’s ways and applying them.
How can we understand God’s ways?
Know the Author. We need help to make tough decisions. Why not ask God, the Author of wisdom? Wisdom that leads to joy, peace and life begins with knowing and fearing Him (Proverbs 9:10). The only way to know Him is by knowing and believing in the One He sent, Jesus, who reconciles us to a right relationship with God.
Ask Him for wisdom. We must start with a posture of humility because “with humility comes wisdom” (Proverbs 11:2). Humility is acknowledging that God is in control of all things and I am not. King Solomon was not born wise. He prayed for wisdom and God granted it to him in abundance.
Read His book. God’s ways are spelled out in God’s Word, the Bible. It’s the guide you want by your side to make tough decisions at home, at work and in life. Read it. Start in Proverbs, which contains a lot of insights on wisdom.
Learning how to make tough decisions requires applying God’s ways. How do I do that, moment by moment, day by day? For several decades, I’ve used these four questions as filters as I seek to apply God’s ways, especially when I have to make tough decisions:
- What does God say about it? Does the Bible prohibit or prescribe it? If the Bible says don’t do it—decision made. If God prescribes it, I can apply it. For example, how do I respond to my intense, angry spouse? Apply Proverbs 15:1: “A gentle answer turns away wrath…” How can I be at peace if my financial future is uncertain? Apply Matthew 6:25-34: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry…” Whether or not God addresses my issue directly in the Bible, I ask Him about it and listen carefully to His answer.
- What does my spouse say about it? We are one. I don’t make any major decisions without complete agreement with Susan. If we are not in unity, we don’t move forward.
- What do wise counselors say about it? Proverbs 13:20 says, “He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.” When I need to make difficult decisions, I seek advice from trustworthy men of God.
- What do my circumstances say about it? Get the facts. What doors are open or closed? What related gifts or strengths do I have? How are other affected people looking at this? Are there past experiences I can draw on to help me decide? Does this align with our priorities for our family, our work or in life? Our circumstances provide helpful perspective.
Wisdom is the one thing you must have to make tough decisions. And Proverbs 3:13 tells us that the man and woman who find it will be happy and blessed.
What else helps when you have to make a tough decision? Share in the comments below.