What I’ve Learned About Navigating Difficult Choices

I recognize that at the age of 32 I am nowhere near being an expert at navigating difficult choices. In fact, you should probably stop reading this because I’ll have a whole new set of items for navigating difficult choices in another 10 years after making a myriad of mistakes between now and then.

Some of the biggest decisions I’ve made—whether to move to a new church or whether to buy a home—were the culmination of years of continued processing from various angles. I tend to make decisions slower than average, especially bigger decisions, because I want to make sure several key components are all in line.

These components are especially vital for me in making big decisions, but they’re also in play for smaller decisions. My choice for US President in the 2016 election did not have the same weight in my personal life as the choice of whether or not to buy a home, but I still utilized all of these components.

We approach opportunities to make decisions every minute of every day, but most of those are not what I would categorize as “difficult” decisions. But every so often, decisions with positives and negatives on both sides come up, and they need extra attention to process well.

Here’s the 3 main components I use in navigating difficult decisions:

What Does God’s Word Say

Now, let me be clear, The Bible is not a map showing you which way to drive to go from your current location to your future destination. The Bible is not an answer book that will provide you with a simple “yes” or “no” to your question.

The Bible is a compass that points to Jesus. The Bible is a guide that cultivates your heart in order for you to enter into the life God is orchestrating. The Bible helps provide a framework for us to understand God’s will in many situations, so we should obey it in those situations where truth is found with clarity. In situations where it is

The Bible helps provide a framework for us to understand God’s will in many situations, so we should obey it in those situations where truth is found with clarity. In situations where it is not we continue mine God’s Word allowing it to cultivate in us the ability to hear from God and to follow where He is leading.

What Do Respected Leaders Say

You might include your pastor here, or a ministry leader within your church, or a respected individual within your community. You might include some of your favorite writers. The key here is to look to people who you not only find to be wise, but are also respected by others beyond just yourself.

For instance, if Tim Keller wrote a book on the importance of the rootedness of Christians near their local church, I would more highly value living close to my church. Or if Dave Ramsey wrote about the importance of living debt-free, I would avoid taking on debt at all costs.

In the case of some of my largest decisions, the voices of respected people around me were the most important component, and in the case of other people navigating difficult decisions, I would say this is the most neglected component.

Be the kind of person who asks for help and asks for advice, you’ll be surprised how willing others are to walk through these decisions with you.

What Does My Spouse Say (or Family or Close Friends)

Usually this is the first step, not the last. What does the person or people close to you say? Unless I have a huge need to push in a certain direction, if my wife says no I stop dead in my tracks. As with everyone, there’s a certain amount of trust and wisdom I give to those closest to me, so their level of input in my difficult decisions varies.

In the dreaming step of making large decisions, my wife is my sounding board. If an idea gets past her then I usually begin the step of more focused listening to God and navigating conversations with respected leaders. But, this all starts with my wife and my family having input.

I’m sure you could list plenty of other important components to navigating difficult decisions, but these 3 have proven to be an effective core list for me.

Anything you think I’m missing?

[Image: Dillon Klassen]