“The thoughts of the righteous are just; the counsels of the wicked are deceitful. A man is commended according to his good sense, but one of twisted mind is despised.”
Proverbs teaches us that effective thinking and decision-making requires wisdom. One of the most important things you do every day is think and make decisions. Estimates vary, but experts agree that people make more than 10,000 decisions a day. Yes, you read that correctly. You make more than 10,000 decisions a day.
God put you on this planet to be a decision-maker, and he wants to give you practical wisdom for making wise choices in response to the real-world situations you face every day. The Lord understands that navigating life and work in a fallen world can be messy and difficult. That is the very reason he makes his wisdom available to you.
There are four critical components of thinking and decision-making that you need to pay careful attention to: principles, process, people, and purpose.
- What principles guide the decisions you make every day? These are your core beliefs and values. This is the "what" of your thinking.
- What process do you use for making decisions? This is your methodology for thinking and choosing. It is the "how" of your thinking.
- What people do you look to for advice and insight in your decisions? These are the influencers who shape the choices you make. This is the "who" of your thinking.
- And finally, what purpose guides your thinking? What are you trying to accomplish with your choices? This is the "why" of your thinking.
It isn't difficult to see the negative impact of getting any one of these four components wrong. There are devastating consequences if our thinking is guided by the wrong principles, or we use an ineffective process, or we are influenced by the wrong people, or we pursue a self-centered agenda.
Gain access to the wisdom of God by being intentional about the four areas:
- Be faithful to the principles and precepts of scripture. God's Word is the authoritative reference point for making decisions. Beware using what is fashionable and popular in modern culture as a reference point for your decisions. Do not allow emotional impulse or old habits to guide the choices you make. Think and choose with your new nature, not your old nature (Ephesians 4.22-24).
Here is another critically important principle that must shape our thinking: God is the author of the physical laws that govern the physical world, and the Lord calls us to be wise and skillful in the mechanics of our job. This has been a major blind spot for many Christians, and it must be corrected. How well you do your job is deeply important to God. He calls you to be knowledgeable and skillful at the "physics" of your daily work.
- Use a disciplined process for thinking and making decisions. Jeremiah 6.16 provides an outline of the key steps in decision-making: "Stop at the crossroads and look around you. Ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is, and walk in it. You will find rest for your souls."
- Seek the advice and insight of wise, godly people. "Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed" (Proverbs 15.22). Do not allow the wrong people or groups to influence your thinking. "Be not envious of evil men, nor desire to be with them, for their hearts devise violence, and their lips talk of trouble" (Proverbs 24.1-2). Choose your counsellors wisely!!
- Make decisions in alignment with God's purposes. Do not get caught in the gravitational pull of self-centeredness. You are called to be an agent of the kingdom of God, so think and act in alignment with that calling. "I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called" (Ephesians 4.1).
Here's the bottom line: Think about the way you think. Evaluate your decision-making with the four questions, and as you evaluate, pray and ask the Lord to show you where you need to improve.
Trust God and do the inner work.