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Bob Tamasy: Decision-Making And The Will Of God

  • Monday, May 13, 2024
  • Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy

Have you ever thought about how many decisions we make during a lifetime? Or even over the course of a single day?

Probably not, because we’re too busy making decisions to bother tabulating how many we’ve made. But as a speaker recently reminded me, from the time we reach high school, life becomes an endless parade of one decision after another.

When we’re kids, the ‘decisions’ we make are more like impulses: Which toy to play with. Whether to eat the food Mom puts in front of us. Whether to read a book or play a video game on our tablet. Whether to clean up our room as we’re told. At that stage of life, we don’t really calculate the significance or consequences of what we do. It’s simply a matter of ‘I want to’ or ‘I don’t want to.’

Decisions – and the decision-making process – take on much more gravity when we reach the high school level. In high school we start to discover and confirm our interests. We decide whether to try out for sports – and which ones. Or we can opt for things like band, which I did. Being in our school marching, concert and dance bands were the highlights of my time at ole Franklin High.

As a freshman, being on the college-prep track, I had to choose things like which foreign language to study and which elective subjects to take. I chose Latin and Spanish, which turned out to be very beneficial for my writing career – even though I didn’t realize it then. I also took a year of personal typing, another serendipitous decision that would prove extremely useful.

From high school, our decisions become more numerous and complex. Should I go to college? And if so, which one? What should I major in? If I don’t go to college, which line of work should I pursue? We make decisions about where to live, whether to accept a job offer, which car to buy, whether we’re on the right career path, whether we should get married (and to whom), whether we should have children (and when)?

Before we know it, we’ve made thousands of decisions, some with very little thought but others we agonized over, realizing they could have long-term ramifications.

How are we to master this lifelong process of decision-making? I’m reminded of the young man who asked his mentor, “How do you make good decisions?” The mentor answered, “Through experience.” “How do I gain experience?” the protégé asked. His mentor smiled and replied, “By making bad decisions.”

No one wants to make bad decisions, but inevitably we will. Our hope is that the consequences of bad decisions aren’t too serious and can be remedied.

There are many perspectives on how to make decisions. For instance, the late New York Yankees catcher and ‘sage’ Yogi Berra suggested to someone, “If you find a fork in the road, take it.” Poet Robert Frost, in “The Road Not Taken,” one of his best-known poems, wrote about “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

Those of us who are followers of Jesus Christ wrestle with decision-making from a different angle. We ask, “What is God’s will?” reasoning that if God is omniscient – all-knowing – then it would be a good idea to know what He expects of us. The problem is, His will isn’t always clear, especially in regard to specific options we’re considering.

For instance, nowhere in the Scriptures does it say, “Go to XYZ College,” or “Work for Such-and-Such Company.” The Bible doesn’t tell us which car to drive. Nor does it specify the name of the person we should marry.

However, the Word of God does provide us with sound principles to follow for making crucial decisions. If I’m wondering, “What flavor ice cream cone should I buy?” I’m pretty sure God would say, “Makes no difference to Me. You choose.” But if we’re weighing whether to attend a party where we know there will be an abundance of alcohol and raucous behavior, even a cursory look at the Scriptures makes clear what His will is. We’re told in 1 Thessalonians 4:37, “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified…. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.”

In some cases, God’s will couldn’t be more obvious. In 1 Thessalonians 5:18, for example, we’re told, “in everything give thanks, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” In other words, whether we find ourselves in desirable or undesirable circumstances, we’re to be thankful for them, trusting God is working through them for our ultimate good.

The apostle Peter admonished, “It is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil” (1 Peter 3:17). We will encounter suffering in this life. There’s no question about that. But we should make certain when suffering comes, we haven’t brought it on ourselves. That’s God’s will.

If we want to learn how to make good decisions – and avoid making bad ones – there’s no better source for counsel than God’s Word. Whether it’s learning from the bad decisions made by central figures of the Old Testament; drawing insight from wisdom books like Psalms and Proverbs; or studying and seeking to apply the teachings of Jesus, we can find more than enough help for navigating the complex and often confusing world of decision-making.

As Proverbs 1:7 instructs, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Good decision-making starts with knowing God, trusting Him, and obeying what He says.

* * *

Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, former newspaper editor and magazine editor. Bob has written, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include the newly published, ”Marketplace Ambassadors”; “Business At Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace”; “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” A weekly business meditation he edits, “Monday Manna,” is translated into more than 20 languages and sent via email around the world by CBMC International. The address for his blog is www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com. His email address is btamasy@comcast.net.

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