Decision-Making: Process and Tools
“Step One – Draw upon Christian Faith Resources”

by Wm. M. Pinson, Jr., Th.D. with Lloyd Elder, Th.D.
adapted from SkillTrack® Vol. 10 – Decision-Making

What contributions to decision-making does the Christian faith
make? Christians ought to begin the decision-making process with a faith commitment
that God not only exists but that He is sovereign and has a will and purpose
for each person as well as for all groups and relationships.

  1. God is the ultimate authority in
    Secular approaches look to reason, enlightened
    self-interest, social standards, or perhaps law. Though intelligently considering
    these, the Christian approach looks to God with a firm belief that God’s
    will is always best and good. “And we know that in all things
    God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according
    to his purpose.
    ”–Rom. 8:10 (NIV)
  2. Soul competency/making choices

    Christians also believe that God makes His will known to those who are open
    to seek and receive it. Furthermore, Christians believe that persons are
    capable (or competent) of knowing and following God’s will. Baptists and
    others term this capability as “soul competency” and cherish
    the concept. Closely related is the conviction that each person who responds
    by faith to Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord becomes a believer priest
    with opportunity to know God directly and with responsibility to put that
    knowledge into action in life and ministry.

    The Bible is filled with illustrations and teachings indicating that persons
    are capable of knowing God’s will and are responsible for carrying it out.
    (See for example, Prov. 3:21, 31; Isa. 7:15; 2 Cor. 9:6-8; James 4:4.) One
    of the most dramatic statements in the Bible along these lines is that of
    Joshua to the people of Israel: “Now fear the Lord and serve him
    with all faithfulness. . . . But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to
    you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the
    gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites,
    in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve
    the Lord”
    –Joshua 24:14-15 (NIV). Day by day, we must each choose
    whom we will serve. The Christian decision maker chooses on the basis of
    being a servant of God.

  3. Willing to know God’s will.
    Jesus taught that we must be willing to know God’s will (John 7:17). Such
    willingness grows out of our closeness to God, out of worship and love for
    God. The human landscape is littered with the tragic consequences of persons
    making decisions when they were spiritually cold. “The first indicator
    of good decision-making is that we have made our decision not in moments
    of self-doubt, but in moments of worshiping the living God.
    Empowered Leader
    , Miller, p. 86

    Jesus also indicated that no one perfectly knows or carries out God’s will
    (Matthew 19:17), except of course Jesus Himself. No one has a “hot line”
    to God and can claim perfect insight into His will. Why?– because as humans
    we are finite, sinful, corrupted by our society, and prone to self-delusion
    and rationalization.

  4. Christians are indeed provided resources
    that are specifically designed for those who have faith commitment to God–among
    these are God Himself, the life and teachings of Jesus, the guidance and empowerment
    of the Holy Spirit, and the Bible.

    • God Himself is the source of wisdom; James wrote,
      “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously
      to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”

      (James 1:5)
    • Jesus in His teachings provides the basic values that are to
      guide decisions.
      For example, He taught that we are to love God,
      neighbor, and self (Matthew 22:37-40) and that we are to seek first the
      Kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33), and that His way
      is that of servant. (Mark 10:42-45)
    • The Holy Spirit is one of God’s gifts to servant leaders
      to aid in decision-making. Jesus said, “But when he, the Spirit
      of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. . . .”
    • The decision of the early church about the place of
      Gentiles in the churches is an example of the role of the Holy Spirit
      in decision-making. In drafting the decision to share with others, the
      members of the church in Jerusalem wrote: “It seems good to
      the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following
      requirements: . . .”
      (Acts 15:28, NIV)
    • The Bible provides indispensable help to the servant
      leader in decision-making. The Bible does not contain answers for all
      decisions we face, but it does provide guidelines and examples to aid
      us in making decisions. For example, the life of Moses recorded in the
      Bible illustrates that some decisions can and ought to be delegated; we
      do not have to make all decisions on our own (Exodus 18:13-27). The Bible
      provides many examples of both good and bad decisions and the consequences
      of each. “Because we will be wrong sometimes, we should be thankful
      for God’s grace and forgiveness and learn to forgive ourselves.
      Ability in decision making can be improved by study and practice.”
      Ready to Minister, p. 86

Even with these resources Christian servant leaders do not always
follow the best process or arrive at the best choice in decision-making. Because
we are prone to fail to find and follow God’s will in decision-making, we ought
to be profoundly grateful for God’s forgiveness and grace. Knowledge of God’s
grace frees us to plunge ahead in decision-making, doing our best to discover
God’s way and accepting our limitations in doing so. This series of articles
is designed to aid the Christian servant leader in that process. “No
one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or
he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God
and Money.”
–Mt. 6:24 (NIV)

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 © 2006; hosted and copyrighted
by Lloyd Elder & Associates, Inc.
For full citation of referenced works, see Bibliography/Links at
Adapted by Lloyd Elder, Th.D., Founding Director, Moench Center for Church Leadership