Some time ago I had the privilege of borrowing a friend’s office for a couple hours. I was out of town, needed a quiet place to work, he was otherwise engaged, so the place became mine.
What immediately attracted my attention was a spinning dial that sat on top of his desk. It was his decision maker. I immediately identified. Some days the relentless stream of decisions have us all wishing we could just roll the dice or spin the dial and receive an instant answer.
As I sat at his desk, his decision-maker provoked a deeper question. What about when the decision before us really matters? Is anyone prepared to let a roll of the dice decide something that counts?
The turn of the year and decade mean that all of us face significant choices. Where and in whom will I invest my most precious resource, my time, in 2020? How will I choose to allocate my money? What value do I place on self-care? What am I prepared to invest in my health and wellness? If I have children still at home, how much longer do I have as the primary influencer in their lives and how will I leverage that time?
Am I addressing my social and emotional needs? How about those of my spouse?
Do I have a plan to pay attention to the spiritual dimension of my life?
I don’t know anyone who’s prepared to decide matters like these with the spin of a dial or roll of the dice.
When I reflect on the wisdom sections of the Bible, usually called Proverbs, I am reminded of all kinds of decision-making tips.
First, many of the Proverbs urge a reliance on values-based decision making. Those Proverbs read like this: “Better is A than B.” The moment one reads a phrase that begins with “better than,” it is apparent that values are at stake. It’s wise when making decisions to consider which of the options is good, better and best when viewed in light of one’s most deeply held values.
A second emphasis of the Proverbs is to acknowledge that while we all bear responsibility for our own choices, there is value in seeking the wisdom and counsel of others. Proverbs 15:22 says,“Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” It isn’t that others are always wiser than the one making the decision, but it is true that others are more distant and objective and consequently take emotion out of the equation.
A third decision making ingredient is one I learned from a source long ago forgotten. That wise individual counselled me to always ask myself what I would advise someone else facing the same decision. It is amazing how even a shred of objective perspective changes the way one views things.
A fourth source of good decision-making is found in prayer, as long as one prays honestly. James, the brother of Jesus wrote a very practical little book in the Newer Testament of the Bible. He put it this way: “ If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”
The reason I added the caveat about praying honestly is because I am all too familiar with my own ability to pray fervently for what I want and to manufacture my own answer without ever paying attention to the wisdom God might provide.
Prayer can easily become part of my own rationalization process for doing exactly what I wanted to do in the first place.
The friend who loaned me his office is someone I know well enough to know that although he had a decision maker sitting on top of his desk, he never used it. It was there to serve as a reminder that important decisions should never be made frivolously.
2020 will present you with numerous choices. It’s your call.