How does a wise leader make godly decisions? Specifically, how does a wise Christian leader make godly decisions?
A wise leader totally trusts in God
Proverbs 3:5-7 says
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.
Several principles regarding decision-making can be seen from this verse as well as from other verses (Prov. 14:12; 18:12; 28:26; Jer. 17:9; James 4:13-16; Gal. 6:7-8; John 15:5):
- God wants his people to be humble and to approach him humbly.
He wants us to realize that we must consider who we are before him and recognize what our abilities truly are. Even when we think everything is right, trusting in our ways or methods will fail.
- Keep priorities in sight.
Your primary priority is your relationship with God.
According to Dr. John Maxwell, your secondary priorities can be organized by determining:
(1) What is required?
(2) What gives the greatest return?
(3) What will be the reward?
Proverbs 4:26-27 tells us to
Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm. Do not swerve to the right or to the left. Keep your foot from evil.
- A principle that can be derived from this is:
Pursue realistic courses or options, and pursue those paths that seem to be firm.
Don’t be distracted by wrong goals, motives, or pursuits.
2. Some questions you can ask:
- Are my options realistic?
- Are any of my options unrealistic?
- Is my heart’s motive pure in this?
- Will this choice further my relationship with the Lord or hinder it?
- Which choice will give God the greater glory, if any?
- Do any of my options violate Scripture?
The wise leader makes plans after seeking good counsel
Make your plans by seeking advice
Read: Proverbs 9:8-9; 11:14; 15:22; 20:18; 24:6
- A principle here would be:
- Look to those who can offer sound advice (biblical, with common sense, etc.) and give guidance, such as those who have gone through a similar experience and learned from it (Eccles. 5:1-7; 9:17-18).
- However, as one pastor warned, do not make your decision on the basis of the experience of others! It is absolutely impossible for you to know all the hidden variables that entered into their circumstances and decisions. This is not meant to invalidate their counsel but to avoid the trap of assuming that other’s experiences are a suitable model for your decisions (2 Cor. 10:12; Eccles. 7:10).
- The best advice, of course, is from the Lord. Seek him through prayer and ask for his guidance (Matt. 7:7-11; 21:21-22; John 14:14; 15:7; Phil. 4:6-7; Col. 3:17).
2. Some questions you might ask:
- What does God say from his Word about the question(s) at hand?
- Who do I know that can offer straightforward advice?
- What wise elders can I seek out who can make some wise suggestions or give insight?
- Are there others who have gone through the same kind of experience or have had to make the same kind of decisions that might have “hindsight wisdom?”
A wise person listens to good counsel
The way of a foolish person is right in his own eyes, but a wise person listens to counsel. (Proverbs 12:15)
- Principle: I am willing to consider the advice I have been given, and will listen intently, even when it goes against what I want.
- A few questions to consider:
- Am I seeking the advice of others in order to find someone who will give me what I want to hear?
- Am I listening intently to the advice of others and seriously considering what they have to offer?
- Am I listening intently to the advice of Scripture and the Holy Spirit?
- Am I willing to take risks or make changes if this is God’s will for my life?
A person with understanding keeps a straight course
A person who lacks judgment enjoys his foolishness, but one who is filled with understanding keeps a straight course (Proverbs 15:21).
- Principle: Bliss or feeling happy about something doesn’t make a decision right. Being a biblically wise person (seeking to think God’s thoughts after Him) will help me keep a good course of direction in a diligent manner. Wavering is a pleasure for the fool.
- Some questions you could ask:
- Do I find more comfort and security in not making decisions than in making one?
- Am I seeking to think God’s thoughts about this matter?
- Have I searched the Scriptures to see if there is anything that speaks to these issue(s)?
3. It is wrong to have a mind that nearly always wavers back and forth, or is indecisive. This is especially true of a leader. Leaders who cannot make decisions are not leaders at all (Rom. 14:5; James 1:5-8; 5:12).
4. James 3:17 gives you direction for making decisions. Notice how this verse can provide you with a seven-fold decision-making process;
- Is the decision pure?
- Does it separate me from sin and evil? Does it promote moral holiness?
- Is the decision peaceable?
- That is, does it promote peace?
This does not mean that just because you feel peaceful about the decision then it is a right decision. The emotion of peace can mean that you are relieved that you have found the means to shirk responsibility. It can mean that you have found a way to absolve you for doing something you did not want to do. It could mean that you are pleased you have decided to do something you wanted, but your conscience has been seared sufficiently enough to repel any conviction about a bad or sinful decision.
On the other hand, you should not make any decision if your conscience is troubled. Now this means that your conscience should be informed as much as possible from God’s Word. Sometimes your conscience is bothered because making a decision requires making an uncomfortable but needed change; or because it goes against the culture in which you were brought up. If your conscience is bothered, then continue to look into the matter and seek as much information and counsel as you can before making a decision. As one pastor has said, “If this principle (of conscience) is violated, the end result is seldom a happy one…” The old statement can be true, “If in doubt, don’t.” (Eccles. 1:18; Rom. 14:13-23; 1 Cor. 8:7-13; 10:23-31)
- Is it gentle (forbearing, considerate)?
- Is it reasonable (willing to yield)?
Dr. Robert Stuart makes the following recommendation for trying to figure out the reasonableness of the matter:
(1) Divide a page into two sides and label one side “pros” and the other side “cons.”
(2) List all of the pros and cons as you can possibly think of.
(3) Go back and label all of the pros and cons with
“A” for critically important
“C” not that important
(4) Put the list away and take time to pray for guidance and wisdom.
(5) Go back and change all of the “B’s” into either “A’s” or “C’s”
(6) Now throw all of your “C’s” away and consider only what you have left.
- Is it full of mercy or compassion?
- Is it something that will produce good fruit? Will you get a good return, is it of value or profitable (not necessarily in terms of monetary rewards)?
- Is it without favoritism or prejudice?
- Is it genuine, sincere or without hypocrisy?
A wise person realizes the Lord's plans ultimately prevail
Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails (16:33; 19:21).
- Principle: No matter how hard I plan to do things, ultimately it is God’s Sovereign plan for my life that succeeds.
A wise leader will recognize God’s authority, presence, and power in everything. He will understand that only God can bless anything and everything at all (Psa. 37:4-5; Matt. 6:19-34; Jn. 8:31-36; 15:1-7; Phil. 4:6-7; Col. 3:17; James 1:5-8).
2. Some helpful questions:
- Have I committed this decision to the Lord? (In other words, have I told Him that I will rest
- in the knowledge that He is control ultimately, no matter what decision I make?)
- Have I purposed in my heart not to worry, but rather to give thanks for the process and for the outcome?
- Have I made the commitment to do what is right before the Lord?
3. There is great counsel and sound wisdom in God and His Word. Seeking His wisdom is understanding and great power for success (Proverbs 8:14).
- The principle here is - Success is always linked to godly wisdom and good counsel. The person who plans well will win.