Without filters for decision-making, ministry leadership will drive you insane. Right? There are simply too many needs for the limited capacity of one individual or one church. So how can a pastor or[...]
In the last month I have been evaluating a pretty big decision. One of those kinds where, for better or worse, my resting moments are flooded with pros and cons and "what ifs." Here are some things I have been been doing in the process of discernment.
#1 Keep it about the walk.
Whatever the decision, remember Jesus is walking next to you and your life belongs to Him. How will the decision affect your relationship with Him? This question alone should be the only one you need to ask. During this season, I have been reflecting on the pattern of big decisions in my life and relishing the memories of Jesus guiding me for 30 years. Prayer this way becomes more than an act, it's an expression of long relationship.
#2 Don't get advice, get better questions.
Getting advice is a no brainer. The real pursuit is getting better questions. You will have the top three or four people from whom you receive general wisdom. What about the next 15-20 who can give you special, very specific insight? With each person, ask, "What other questions do I need to consider about _________?" or "Here is an assumption I am working from, but what question am I not considering?" I have had some big explosions of insight by asking these questions.
#3 Create a tug-o-perspective-war.
It's important to "mine out" the conflict and tension of the decision. I even imagine a tug-of-war of different perspectives. Who can you enlist to pull on the different sides by offering new perspective? Of course you'll have to live with the internal battle in keeping the first and last "move" of this list in mind. In the last month I have different sides "winning" as I stack each side of the rope with new people offering new points of view.
#4 Travel in time, while watching time.
God gave you an imagination so that you could dream forward and exercise faith. While we can't predict the future, you can play out your decision, and practice in your minds-eye the blessings and byproducts of your big decision. How does the decision change your life in the next year? In the next ten years? How will the tone of the hours of your day be affected? How will all of your key relationships be affected? The list goes on. Remember there are times when your creative mind is more active, like the fringes of sleep and hypnotic states, like taking a long shower or driving. I intentionally use these times. But remember to watch your time. Don't make a decision to quickly, and don't forget that some opportunities expire. You only have the lifetime of the opportunity to leverage the opportunity of a lifetime.
#5 Do the trust fall.
In the end, every decision is an act of trust. Remember that crazy thing you did at camp when you were a kid? You really didn't know if your buddies were going to let you hit the ground for a laugh. But you did it. You let go. You trusted. The final act of the decision-making process is the moment of commitment. How does this act of trust feel for me? I simply tell God, "I have listened and discerned as much as possible and I am making this decision for you. If this is not the right decision, I trust you to show and to direct my path. Everything I have and I am belongs to you."