Making wise decisions . . . are you still struggling with that like I am? Even though I do my best to apply wisdom, insight, and discernment to my decision making, sometimes there are decisions to be made that are still really hard. Sometimes I am asked to do things, and I’m unsure what the wisest decision will be. Sometimes, I feel that I am expected to say yes, but the thought of moving forward leaves me feeling conflicted, anxious, or overwhelmed. Can you relate to this at all? Some decisions, require us to step back and take some time to process and evaluate them. Not fret and stew over them, but process and evaluate them. How do we do this? Let me share what I’ve been learning.
First, when faced with a decision, it is important to identify the expectations and responsibilities that will come with saying yes. Remember my story from a few weeks ago about my daughter’s desire for a horse? As my husband and I wrestled with that decision, we talked about the expectations and responsibilities that would come with the purchase of a horse.
First, we talked about the financial expectations. A horse was going to cost money. Feed costs, vet and farrier costs, the actual purchase price of the animal, and the tack we would need were all things to consider.
We also had to think about where we would put the horse. We have a bit of land, but it’s mainly wooded. Building a barn would require the clearing of a number of trees, and we would have a financial commitment in the form of materials and labor for its construction. We had to weigh the pros and cons of building a barn or boarding our horse somewhere else.
Time was something else we had to consider. Once a horse is bought, there is a great amount of time required in caring for it. If we chose to board, the stable would take care of the feeding, watering, turning out, and cleaning of stalls, but, it would still be necessary for us to go over to the stable to ride. In addition, our daughter expressed interest in showing. Joining 4H and attending horse shows would be another time commitment to add to an already busy schedule. We had to identify the expectations and responsibilities that would come with saying yes to that decision. When you are faced with a difficult decision, it is important to identify all of the expectations and responsibilities that will come with saying yes.
It’s also important to identify if those expectations and responsibilities are realistic for you in your current season of life. First, think about your time. Do you have the time in your current schedule to devote to the demands saying yes to this decision will bring? When it came to buying a horse, we understood that it would be a time commitment. We also felt that it was manageable with our current schedules.
Secondly, think about your abilities. Do you have the necessary skills needed for this commitment? I’ll be honest and tell you this was the one area that concerned me most with this decision about buying a horse. I grew up on a dairy farm. I know nothing about horses. But, at the same time, I knew we would get our daughter into a 4H club and that we had a fantastic trainer who would answer all of my questions. I was confident that we could move forward knowing the support we already had or would have in place.
Thirdly, you need to consider your finances. Can you afford the financial responsibilities that come along with this commitment?
Fourth, think about your passion. Do the responsibilities of this opportunity excite you or fill you with a sense of dread? As much as I feared getting a horse for my daughter, I was excited about it as well. Ask yourself if this opportunity before you fits in with your passions?
Lastly, take a hard look your current season of life. Does this opportunity fit in with this season? Is this opportunity doable in the season of life you are walking through now? For us, buying a horse now seemed to fit. Grace is still young and still has much to learn when it comes to horseback riding. Now seemed to be an opportune time for her to get a horse that can grow with her in the coming years. The timing . . . seemed right. Getting a horse now, worked with our current season of life. When facing a difficult decision, identify if the expectations and responsibilities are realistic for your current season of life.
In addition to identifying if an opportunity fits into your current season, you must also identify if you have the resources an opportunity needs or deserves. It is wise to do this. Luke 14:28-32 (MSG) says,
“Is there anyone here who, planning to build a new house, doesn’t first sit down and figure the cost so you’ll know if you can complete it? If you only get the foundation laid and then run out of money, you’re going to look pretty foolish. Everyone passing by will poke fun at you: ‘He started something he couldn’t finish.’ Or can you imagine a king going into battle against another king without first deciding whether it is possible with his ten thousand troops to face the twenty-thousand troops of the other? And if he decides he can’t, won’t he send an emissary and work out a truce?”
It is wise to think about the resources that are needed before saying yes to a decision. Think about a decision you have to make, and ask yourself if you have the physical, financial, spiritual, and emotional resources available to say yes to that decision.
As we thought about buying a horse, we first asked ourselves if we had the physical resources needed. The answer was no, not right now. We would need to either clear land and build a barn or spend the money to board a horse elsewhere. What about financial resources? Yes. We would need to cut back in some areas, but financially we could make this work as long as we were careful with our spending.
Spiritual resources? Would the purchase of a horse prevent me from getting my quiet time in every day or keep me from growing in my walk with God? Unlikely. Would participation in horse shows prevent us from getting our kids to church? Possibly. We would have to set some firm ground rules in this area if we proceeded.
Emotionally? Would the purchase of a horse and the extra time requirements needed for it add stress to my days? Maybe some days. Would purchasing a horse add unneeded stress for my daughter? Unlikely. When facing a difficult decision, identify if you have the physical, financial, spiritual, and emotional resources saying yes to that decision would require.
I want to close by encouraging you to do one thing before you commit to another opportunity. Yes, I want you to evaluate the expectations and responsibilities and see if they match with your current season of life. Yes, I want you to see if you have the resources available that this opportunity needs or deserves. But, I also want you to think about your approach. What do I mean by that? In God’s Word, our approach to activities, our approach to people, our approach to life must always be loving and it must always . . . honor Him. Colossians 3:17 (VOICE) says,
“Surely, no matter what you are doing (speaking, writing, or working), do it all in the name of Jesus our Master, sending thanks through Him to God our Father.”
The Street Bible (by the way if you haven’t checked out this translation yet, you must!) says,
“Whatever you’re up to, thinking or doing, act like a rep of our Boss Jesus – getting your thanks to God through him.”
Everything we do must honor Him. Lysa Terkeurst says, “If the activity we’re considering is in line with God’s Word, but our approach to that activity isn’t, we will overdraw ourselves and bankrupt this part of our lives. A good approach to something requires enough resources to handle the demands of the activity . . . If someone or something demands attention that I don’t have the emotional space to handle, my actions start betraying my intentions. I will start slipping at reflecting Jesus in my words and deeds. When we slip at living out the Word of God, we slip at living in the will of God.” And there, friend, lies our answer to whether saying yes to an opportunity is wise or not. Before taking on an opportunity, ask yourself these questions: “It feels thrilling to say yes to this now. But how will this yes feel two weeks, two months, and six months from now? Do any of the expectations that will come from this yes feel forced or frantic? Could any part of this yes be tied to people pleasing and allowing that desire to skew my judgment of what’s realistic and unrealistic? Which wise (older, grounded in God’s Word, more experienced, and more mature) people in my life think this is a good idea? Are there any facts I try to avoid or hide when discussing this with my wise advisors?” Lysa Terkeurst.
If taking on that opportunity means saying yes to one or more of those questions, then let me ask you this . . . . Are you the right person for that assignment? Is that opportunity a Best Yes for you? Lysa says, “Whatever attitude we bring into a situation will be multiplied.” Will you bring a heart fixed on Jesus ready to move in His will or will you bring a heart that is reluctant and fixed on this world. Our activities must honor Him, yes. But our attitude and our approach are just as important.
Saying yes is about truly understanding those assignments God has just for us. Carefully evaluate and process the opportunities that come before you; measure them against what you know is true, what you know is right. Look for the invitations God has before you. When you see them, say yes. Say yes, and bring honor to His name.
Lacey, Rob. The Street Bible. Grand Rapids, MI. Zondervan, 2003.
Terkeurst, Lysa. The Best Yes, Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands. Nashville, Nelson Books, 2014.