Have you had trouble making decisions at times?
I have dealt with college students who were learning to make all sorts of decisions about life, morality, marriage, career, and even their attitude. Some were required to be made daily, such as how best to tackle and manage their homework. Others included longer lasting decisions such as a career pathway that required classes and a choice of major.
Many young people express frustration with decision making demands. Some expressed the desire to discover a literal twelve-step program to assist them. One said to me that even if one existed, they would struggle to decide if they should go. Or if they went, they would spend a lot of time and energy wondering if they made a good decision to go.
Some students have told me they wrestle with basic decisions on a regular basis – where to go for lunch, what clothes to wear on a particular day, when to go to sleep at night, should they get a dog or cat for their dorm room (even when the school prohibits pets of any kind).
Some wondered if their difficulties with decision making are a reflection of their personality. They assume they are merely a person who gets stymied by the stress of making decisions. Some are perfectionistic and wonder if they are making the right decision, even as they cannot accept making a wrong one. I’ve responded by asking them what determines whether they are happy or unhappy about a decision? I am not sure it leads back to their personality.
Read Proverbs 3:5-6.
I have learned the secret of contentment from many writers of Scripture. I have been reminded that I could feel happy or unhappy in many situations. The key was never based on the circumstances, but on my mind and heart. If my identity was rooted in Christ, if my trust was in the Lord, and if my heart and mind were focused on the Father, I generally felt safe and at peace. If and when I felt out of sorts, entangled in my own personal thoughts, complaints, and emotional needs, I often felt reckless, restless, and divided.
I remember the words of Jesus from John 15 that if I “Remain in Him, He will remain with me.” Jesus said that no branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain connected to the vine. Similarly, I cannot bear fruit unless I stay close to Jesus. He said He is the Vine, and I am a branch. If a man or woman remains in Christ, he will enable them to bear much fruit.
I would suggest to students that they consider a few things about decision making. First is the reality of the sovereign will of God, which we cannot affect. He makes everything run (sun, moon, stars, gravity, seasons of the year), and they run well. Second, His moral will is clear and provides great guardrails for us. The 10 commandments give us clear guidance on making decisions regarding loving God and others that lead to human flourishing.
The third and final area of decision making is our free will choices. We will do well here if we stay connected to the Vine. I can’t make clear and good decisions if I am unhooked from the source of all true wisdom. Walk wisely. Whatever decision I am facing is no great decision. Turning fully and yielding totally to the fear of the Lord is the perfect decision I can make.
Love is a verb,
©2019 by Mike Olejarz