Exercises and Resources for Decision-MakingBook / Produced by Individual TOW Project member
Think back to the last major decision you made in your life.
How did you come to your decision?
What factors influenced you?
In retrospect, how can you see God’s part in the decision?
What did you learn from the process?
Are there any important decisions you’re confronted with now? Write down a short list of the factors (either derived from this chapter or more generally) that can assist you to make a good decision?
Feedback from friends; ideas to discuss with a small group
Looking back over your life, what has been your greatest difficulty about finding guidance?
Describe to your friends a time when (especially now that you look back on it) you felt confident you made a good decision. Try to identify some of the reasons you feel happy about it. (Was it just that things turned out well in the end!?)
If you can, try to share about a poor decision you have made at some time. What happened that made you feel it was a bad choice? How has God used this to “grow you”?
What is your reaction to the following statement by Gordon Smith? “We see through a glass darkly (1 Cor 13:12 KJV), which means there will always be an element of uncertainty in our choices. In this life we will not have absolute, ambiguous peace and rational certainty that we have divine guidance… The presence of sin in our lives complicates matters further. What makes discernment so difficult is that we can never really trust ourselves, especially our motives… By not overstating our certainty, by qualifying our statements and not making absolute our sense of divine guidance, we are not negating for a moment the presence and witness of God to our hearts. We are merely affirming our own human limitations and humbly accepting our potential for self-deception.”
Parker Palmer writes: “Let your life speak … Before you tell your life what you intend to do with it, listen for what it intends to do with you.” Think about a recent decision you have made. In what ways did your knowledge about how you have been shaped by God contribute to your decision-making?
As a group, draw up a scheme to help you when you face your next major decision. Identify and list the factors you will try to take account of.
Probing further: Resources
The following books are all worthwhile and challenging reads:
Gerald Sittser, The Will of God as a Way of Life (Zondervan, 2000)
Gordon Smith, Listening to God in Times of Choice (IVP, 1997)
Bruce Waltke, Finding the Will of God: A Pagan Notion? (Vision House, 1995)
Garry Friesen, Decision Making and the Will of God (Multnomah, 1980)
David Runcorn, Choice, Desire and the Will of God (SPCK, 2003)
Parker Palmer, Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation (Jossey-Bass, 2000)
For more books on this topic, see the Theology of Work Project article about vocation.