The Tension in Decision Making: Learning the Art of Discernment
July 28, 2020
of our greatest fears arise from the tension of decision making. We are afraid
of making the wrong decisions and regretting the unforeseen outcomes. If only there
was one magic door to open in every situation, wouldn’t our lives be less
stressful? If we could just gather enough information, we could be confident in
the right decision. If we could all do the same thing and use the same door, we
could feel safe in the company of numbers. But realistically, life is so much
more complicated and nuanced than this.
tension exists because God only allows us to see in part (I Cor. 13:12). If we
knew the whole story, saw every future event, and did not need to seek Him for
wisdom, we would be our own gods. We need Him, and He desires to lead us. This
allows us to view the tension of decision making not from a stressful place if
we are wise, but from a place of seeking to discern His will and draw close
enough to hear Him speak to us. We can be at rest in our decisions when we let
His Spirit guide us.
this worldwide pandemic, we have seen that there is never a shortage of
decisions to be made. We have also seen the results of too much information,
polarizing ways to view this information, and the daily decisions needed to
navigate this virus. Everyone is trying to decide what information is accurate
and what they believe should be done with that information. But how do we, as
believers, find peace in decision making? Is there only one right way?
quick scroll through social media and news comments right now reveals the dilemma
many parents are facing about schooling options during Covid. Should they send their kids to school, sign up
for online schooling, or try homeschooling? I hear people asking how they can
make the right decision. Everyone wants to do it right, even when they are
not sure what right is. There are pros and cons to all the unchartered waters
they wade through. What if they choose the wrong one? What if they fail their
children? It is a big burden to carry on our own.
the Heart of the Matter
is hard to decide on solutions when all these questions are rooted in fear. If
we are honest, some come from sheer frustration that life is not as easy as we
want it to be. There is fear of missing out. Many fear for their sanity at
having kids home with them. Many have clung to the systems provided for them to
meet the needs of our family and now these constants have been pulled out from
under them. This lack of control is the culprit for much of the anxiety, fear,
and frustration that is seen in our homes, communities, and world at this
moment. If there is no perfect answer, how can we, as believers, choose a good
me suggest that while we long for an easy button, God desires to give us
discernment. He allows us agency and freedom in the world and is more concerned
about the why and heart motive behind a decision than the actual choice being
made (unless it clearly contradicts God’s Word. We are not talking about that
scenario. We are talking about the gray areas of life where we have freedom to
make choices.) Only those who abide with Christ will experience this quiet
confidence and peace of discernment over their lives.
Personal Lesson in Discernment:
ago, my husband and I went through quite a struggle to decide to homeschool our
two children. Although it is more common today, homeschooling is still seen by
many as an assault on a broader system deemed best by the larger community. It
was considered abnormal in many ways, and we ourselves had our doubts. We feared
our choices would negatively impact our kids. We feared they would be
ostracized by peers, incorrectly judged by society, and later hate us for
ruining their childhood and educational aspirations. That is heavy stuff. While
our choice did bring judgement from many, feelings of inadequacy in us as
teachers at times, and so much hard work, it was also a joy filled, unique to
us way of life. Our vision for our family just did not fit with the daily grind
of traditional school. Without trying, we never would have experienced many
blessings from God and opportunities to walk in true faith and trust.
did we sift through the information to discern our good choice?
First, here are some
things that we decided could not/would not influence such a big decision for
Worrying about what
other people were doing on behalf of their families. We had to shut
out the opinions of the world and ask God to help us make the best choice for
us at the time. Comparing ourselves is unwise. Our kids had unique needs. As
parents, we had certain giftings, financial considerations, and temperaments. What
others chose to do was irrelevant. We alone will answer for how we raised our
Looking too far
ahead and letting what-ifs cause fear in our present. Faith is trusting
God. It is believing that He can accomplish His will in your life and your
family member’s lives without your perfect choices. He lights our way and can
get us where He wants us to be.
Buying into the
world’s ideas about success and education. As Christians, we had conflict with
both what the world thinks is a “good” education and what other believers
thought was a “good” Christian. Different opinions on what it means to be in
the world and not of it, the role of families in education, the purpose of
education, and the responsibility to be good members of the community all
overwhelmed me in the decision making process. But I knew one thing.
My heart was to disciple my kids to walk in the ways of God. To love Him and
have time to learn all subjects created by God with a gospel lens. And to spend
time lovingly leading them to the kingdom of God. It was also to have time to
minister together in our community without all the demands the traditional
route requires. As I brought these thoughts to God, I felt peace as He said
to me that these were God honoring things. They were good things. I could step
out in faith in this decision knowing that my “why’s” were capable of
sustaining through the “what-ifs”.
*These same thought patterns can be applied to your unique decision. What questions are plaguing you? Are you seeking to please God in your decisions? Are they good plans that can sustain the “what-ifs” or are your motives impure or contrary to God’s truth?*
As a next step, here are some biblical truths that helped me move from anxiety to peace in decision making:
If you ask for wisdom, God gives it. James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”
If you have not stopped to ask God and seek His guidance, this is your first step in finding peace in your decision.
you pray specific, persistent prayers, God will hear and meet our needs. Not
always in the way we asked for, but often in ways we could never dare to dream
“O LORD, I cry out to
you. I will keep on pleading day by day” (Psalm 88:13). “Trust in the
LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek
His will in all you do, and He will direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
of moral commands, life is full of good/good decisions. There are not always
clear good/bad, right/wrong moves to make. Homeschooling was not the only right
decision we could have chosen. But it was a good one. Our desire to be
intentional about their faith and education with freedom was a good why.
“In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and
supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And
the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall guard your hearts and
your thoughts in Christ Jesus.
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true,
whatsoever things are honorable, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things
are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report;
if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. The
things which ye both learned and received and heard and saw in me, these things
do: and the God of peace shall be with you.” Philippians 4:6-9
Think on your choices. Which ones are honorable, just,
pure, lovely, and of good report? Do they lead to peace? Do they align with the
character of Christ?
wants us to seek Him. He grows us through the tension of decision making. We
only know in part now. We need Him. Studying Scripture builds discernment.
Learning to abide and listen to the Spirit takes practice and a daily denial of
The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge,
for the ears of the wise seek it out.” Proverbs 18:15
it with all your heart unto Him, and He will honor it. I cannot begin to list
all the ways God honored our family, answered our prayers, provided our needs,
and blessed us more than we deserved. The why of what we do matters to God.
“And whatever you do,
in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God
the Father through Him.” Colossians 3:17
thanks. It is a fast pass to peace in our hearts and minds. Give thanks for
children, educational options, individual freedoms, seasons of life, and ways
to protect ourselves during this virus! Praising God leads to the greatest
“Don’t worry about
anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank Him
for all He has done. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is
far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard
your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
not be afraid to reassess and keep praying. Pray according to His will not
yours. If you need to change course, God will show you which path to take.
“Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take.”
Proverbs 3:6 NLT
one step can you take today to find peace in whatever choice you are wrestling
through today? Wrestling builds discernment as you seek to understand His wisdom.