Decision-Making: Personal and Life Choices
“Stop and Go: Obstacles and Pathways in Making Choices ”

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

As you make your way along this journey called “your life,” you may find it helpful to record what you observe or experience about making choices. For example:

  • First page could be entitled: “Obstacles and Pitfalls in My Personal Choices.” The list could be completed in phrases and short sentences as you develop your own log. It could get long, but not necessarily dull!
  • The second page could be labeled, “Proven Tips and Practices for Making Personal Choices.” this is what you know to do and seek to do it.

We have created such logs and suggest that you receive them as a resource as you make yours. To get started, choose to draft at least five on each list. Then as you “stop and go,” review your work and see where it leads you.

  1. Avoid Obstacles and Pitfalls

    Following are some of those obstacles and pitfalls. Which obstacles have you faced?

    • Haste, moving ahead without due consideration.
    • Fear of making a bad decision.
    • Fear of what others might say about a right decision.
    • Allowing pride and ego to dominate a decision process.
    • Procrastination, put the decision off without reason.
    • Unwillingness to face reality.
    • Blinded by negative emotions, such as anger, jealousy, and lust.
    • Underestimation of the impact of sin on human life.
    • Clinging to wrong or ineffective ways and processes.
    • Bogged down in detail–failure to see the big picture.
    • Failure to realize or acknowledge that a decision needs to be made–our
    • Lack of discipline to stick with the process until a good decision is
    • Giving in to peer pressure without peer rationale.
    • Disobedience to Christian values or even to proper boundaries.
    • What other obstacles have you encountered?

    “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what
    he sows.”
    –Gal. 6:7

  2. Follow Proven Tips and Pathways
    • As much as possible, make decisions as you go along. Don’t let them pile
    • Don’t make decisions that are not yours to make. People will put the “monkey”
      on your back if you let them.
    • You cannot know with one hundred percent certainty that a decision is
      correct. Do your best and move on to other matters without second-guessing
      the decision.
    • Learn from your mistakes, but don’t dwell on them.
    • Use your imagination to project into the future the consequences of the
    • Learn to be creative and imaginative, expanding potential decision options.
    • Not making a decision is a decision–to not make a decision.
    • An effective decision may be a judgment based on “dissenting opinions”
      rather than on “consensus on the facts.” In a sense, conflict
      or controversy is part of every decision. Those who enjoy conflict usually
      enjoy making decisions. Those who do not relish conflict usually do not
      enjoy making decisions. Whether enjoyable or not, decision-making is everyone’s
      job, often with others.
    • Be aware that logic alone is not the way of decision-making; emotion plays
      a role.
    • Choose advisors carefully and use them wisely. The Bible declares that
      there is wisdom in many counselors. The Bible also advises us to seek Godly,
      wise counselors (Prov. 15:22). Avoid “yes” people who seek only
      to gain your favor, not to help make tough choices.
    • When possible, make decisions in layers or phases, starting with the most
      difficult and important.
    • In order to get “unstuck” when you are going over and over
      a decision without making progress, talk the decision over with someone
      or imagine that you are counseling someone else on the same decision. Back
      off for a while, even go for a walk.
    • Know when to quit–when to quit gathering information, considering alternatives,
      seeking advice–and just decide!
    • Constantly tune up your decision-making. Seek a mentor or wise consultant
      to aid you in evaluating your decision-making processes.
    • Ponder the hard issues related to decision-making and ask the right questions,
      such as, “Is the expedient ever right?” “Do we sometimes
      need to decide to do the penultimate (not the best) rather than the ultimate
      (the ideal best) because of the sinful world in which we live?”
    • The quiet power of meditation is often beneficial to good decision-making.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”–Phil. 4:8

“. . . decision making involves not only how we think (i.e. the cognitive), but also how we feel (i.e. the affective).” –Sobel,
The 12-Hour MBA Program, p. 226
  1. Reflection: Hard Decisions for Personal Choices
    For example, most of us consider honesty to be a basic value. Thus a decision
    that involves dishonesty is wrong. Or is it? Were those who hid Jews from
    the Nazis, who lied about their whereabouts, in order to save their lives
    making the wrong decision? Or are there “layers” of values?
    Is saving lives a higher value than honesty? If so, is the decision to lie
    in order to save lives a right decision?

    Other Cases from your knowledge or experience:


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© 2010; 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