How to Make Decisions

"The most eternally creative thing you can do is make a decision.” – Dave Miller

Making decisions well is central to good leadership. You’ve likely seen some decisions that leave you shaking your head and wondering “what were you thinking?!” It doesn’t have to be that way.

The Church is two or more gathered [Matthew 18:20] and centered around Christ, acknowledging His authority and presence, discerning and declaring the will of God, making decisions for the Kingdom, declaring those decisions and acting on them corporately.1 We must always start (and complete) the decision making process with our hearts (read: affections), our minds (read: attitudes), our souls (read: ambition), and our strength (read: activity),2 centered on Christ. Unless you just want to build your church, instead of His. So how do we do this?

Remove fear

Fear = Fog. Fear of what people will think, fear of what it will take to do what the decision implies, or fear of making the wrong decision are always bad motivators and will cloud your decision. Fear = False Evidence Appearing Real. It will mess you up. But go ahead and imagine what it feels like to make a decision without the weight of “what will they think?” attached to it. I couldn’t help but grin either.

Clarify what decision you are making and which ones you are not making

Decisions always impact other things, but it’s important to avoid trying to make all the decisions that will be affected by a single decision at the same time. It will immobilize you. Just imagine shopping at the grocery store for the next 175 meals in a single shopping trip. Hope you like Spam.

Identify what’s making it a difficult decision

There’s something intoxicating about problem solving that is so detrimental to decision making. Don’t confuse decision making with problem solving.3 Make the decision first, and (only) then get into problem solving. Talk about why this decision feels hard. It will help you process the issues tied to it, the problems the decision creates (or solves).

Listen for the still, small Voice

Sometimes when I am trying to make a decision, I’ll stop and back up from all the processing I’ve been doing and I’ll listen for the answer that I’ve kinda known God was giving me, but I was mentally debating because I didn’t understand, like, or know how it would work. If you had to say (ignoring any implications of the decision) what you think God’s saying about the decision…what would it be if you had to make a call right now?

Decide how long of a time frame each decision should take to make (5 minutes or 5 months?)

Some decisions take time. Some don’t. Some leaders can make decisions quickly. Some can’t. Neither is always right/wrong. But agreeing at the beginning about how long a decision needs to take will help everyone. Knowing that even though this decision will take two months to make, there’s freedom in having an end date. It gives us hope and a feeling of forward motion. Never delay a decision that should be made quickly. It’ll be like that email that you didn’t want to respond to right away, that somehow ended up way down in your inbox only to be discovered months later. Never rush a decision that needs time. You can nuke a steak, but it’ll get hard and you’ll feel discomfort in your stomach.

If it’s a complex decision, simplify it by breaking it into several smaller decisions.

It’s the same principle of eating the elephant (How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.)

Filter the decision through your core purpose, your WHY, the big picture.

Every decision. That’s not an overstatement. Every decision should support your WHY. Even if it seems insignificant, or the exception, or your really want it. If it doesn’t support what you’ve decided you’re about, don’t do it. On the contrary, if it does support your WHY, make sure you clearly share that when you communicate the decision.

Remove your name

Sometimes decisions are tough because we have way too much on the line personally. We have our reputation or our sense of worth. Echo the Psalmist’s prayer in #26 as he says “Clear my name, God.” Remove your own name from the decision. I don’t mean that you shouldn’t take ownership for a decision. I mean the decision should not dictate who you are and what you’re worth. God does that. (Hello son. Hello daughter.)

I cheer you on as you forge ahead with wisdom and decisiveness in your leadership!