Wednesday, September 14, 2011

5 Questions to Ask When Making Decisions

It's September which means that all of the clubs, the cell groups, the Sunday School classes and the regular programming starts up at church. This is the season when "sign-up sheet at the back" is used at the end of every paragraph in every church in every city around the world. It's also a time that I enjoy because I get to choose what new things I'll be involved in.

Cell groups... Sunday school... Church camp... Women's Conferences... Teaching... Leading... Speaking... Cooking... Helping... Which activities do I choose, and which ones do I step back from?

To be honest, I'm the kind of person that wants to sign my name on every page. I'd love to be involved and sometimes I wish there were ten of me to go around.

Michael on the other hand wisely steps back and says, "Maybe we should think about this, Darlene," because he knows that there aren't ten of me. In fact with four kids, there's barely one of me some days.

Sometimes I get so caught up in the thrill of opportunity that I forget to take my ideas to God. Bad move. After all isn't He the one who knows my agenda better than anyone else?

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” ~James 4:13-15, NIV

Looking at that verse, I don’t believe that James is discouraging us from planning for the future. What he's encouraging us to do is to put our will in the hands of God, boast in Him alone, and follow His lead.

But how can we possibly know God’s will for our lives if we don’t take things to Him in prayer? If we don’t read the Word? We won't, unless something stands in our way.

I’m reminded of Balaam in Numbers chapter 22. God clearly instructed Balaam not to go to the Israelites, but after being enticed to do so he sets off on his journey to curse them. When his donkey saw the angel of the Lord standing in their path with a sword drawn in his hand, the donkey turned away and refused to go forward. After being punished by Balaam, the donkey turned another way, but the angel of the Lord stood in his path yet again. Penned in, the donkey threw herself against the wall, crushing Balaam’s foot.

Finally with no way left to turn, the donkey fell down, and the Bible tells us that Balaam’s anger was kindled so that he struck the animal with his staff. That’s when God miraculously opened the mouth of the donkey who said, “What have I done unto thee, that thou hast smitten me these three times?

Have you ever been in situations where you set out to do something and there’s a barricade at every turn? Sometimes this means that we need to press on and overcome those obstacles, but there are times when God has no other choice than to protect us from the choices we’ve made.

The question is how do we know if we’re following God’s will or following our own?

When faced with important decisions the first question we need to ask is, Will this be pleasing to God? In Balaam’s situation it was crystal clear that God had instructed him not to go. In the same way, when we are making decisions many of the answers might be clearly spelled out in scripture. By developing good Bible study habits we learn those principles and draw from them when we have decisions to make.

A prayer life is also important as it leads us to bring our concerns to the Lord and allows Him to speak to our hearts. There will be times when the answer comes to us in a miraculous way such as a word of encouragement from a prayer buddy, but often times God will speak to your conscience, and when He does you’ll have a sense of peace about the choice that you make.

You might say to yourself, "Well of course, teaching Sunday School is God's will--that's a no-brainer!" But the real question is this, Is it God's will for you?

Finally, if your desire is in line with the will of God, but you are still unsure if it’s the best thing to do, then dig a little deeper and ask yourself these five questions:
  1. If I take this on am I spreading myself too thin?

  2. Will this distract me from serving the Lord or will it encourage my walk?

  3. Will it take too much time away from my key priorities such as my husband and my children? Or is it a comfortable fit?

  4. What is the purpose of me doing this?

  5. Is this decision one that would glorify God?
Asking these questions might help give you clarification and a new sense of focus.

You are loved by an almighty God,


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