We make choices every day. Some are easy choices that we don’t even need to think much about and there are others that require some on-the-fly time and attention. Then there are the choices that can be difficult and even agonizing. These are the choices that can make or break a life or shape a destiny, or at the very least, alter the near future. These are the biggest choices we face, but they may not necessarily be the most important ones. We probably don’t think about how often our really big decisions end up being a sum total of many small and seemingly irrelevant choices we have made without much thought. The point is that all of our choices carry a measure of importance! So, what guides us in the choices we make? Are we most often influenced by how we feel about things or by what our friends or family will think? What are the most important factors in successful Christian decision making?
The whole process of making choices is very much a matter of subconscious thinking. It has been said that 95% of our mental processes regarding our choices are “below the surface” and this can be alarming. Think about it – this means our everyday choices are substantially based upon how we feel about things rather than what we think about things. So, our emotional interpretations of our past experiences (which you and I both know can be highly skewed) can easily carry much more weight in our decisions than sound thought and reasoning. Understanding this as a Christian who is supposed to be following in Jesus’ own footsteps should prompt us to want to know how to reframe the whole decision making process.
We would like to suggest to you that there are four key elements we can employ in our decision making. For Christians, being aware of these elements makes it possible to not only use them but to direct them as well. The first and most difficult of our key elements of choice is that of principle. For a Christian, principles are the external fixed points of reference that are built upon integrity, morality and godly righteousness. Abiding by principles in decision making is difficult because to do so is an intellectual decision. By definition, our thinking, no matter how sound it is, does not carry the same decision making weight as our feelings. This creates a real dilemma because God-based principles are often unnatural, require strong effort to follow and are contrary to our emotions.
How do we plow through such a dilemma and grab hold of these most important principles? We define them with simplicity and rehearse them regularly so they become a part of our very fabric instead of just being some ideas that we visit on Sundays. As we go through this process it is also imperative that we define and understand the other three key elements of our choices. What are they and how do we master them? Check out our April 3, 2017 podcast, “So, What are My Choices?” and follow along with us as we take on clarify and attempt to maximize these important and emotional aspects of our life choices.
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