There are many blog posts out there that list 5, 7, or 10 steps to making better decisions. The info you’ll find there is likely good. Of course if they are not faith-based sites, they probably don’t include prayer…but let’s start with the assumption you’ll pray about a big decision. (My second assumption is you’ll recognize that not all decisions are equally important. I can decide what socks to wear without involving other people, or listing pros & cons of various pairs.)
For me there are two rules (for lack of a better word) that I’d recommend to anyone wrestling with making an important decision.
I’ll cover the first one to day, and the second later in the week.
The first rule is: Wait until you and your spouse are on the same page, and NEVER pressure them.
The pastor of first church I was ever on staff with said something when he and I were talking in his office that always stuck with me. He stated that he knew so many pastors that made bad decisions that had long lasting ramifications because the didn’t listen to their spouse’s input.
Very early on in our marriage Liz and I agreed that when one of us thought that a certain path was the right one for us to take, we’d share what we were thinking with each other…why we thought the way we did, and then would give the other person space to come to their own decision.
A couple examples…one a major decision from a few years ago. The other smaller, but more recent:
In 1997 there were some changes being made in the campus ministry organization that I was part of, and it seemed to me that it was time to take a serious look at joining the Vineyard. I met with the pastor of the Syracuse Vineyard for lunch, Liz and I both went up for a Saturday night service in June, and at that point I was ready. Liz was not.
So we waited.
Six months later after attending the Syracuse Vineyard every Sunday, Liz had still not decided.
A couple weeks before Christmas I received a call from the HQ of the group I was a part of wanting to know about the future of my relationship with them. (I had told them ahead of time that we were going to take some time and discern if God was calling us to the Vineyard). At that point a decision had to be made, and Liz decided that a move to the Vineyard seemed to be where God was leading.
There were times along the way when I wanted to shout, “Come on, how much more clear could this be? Just say we should join the Vineyard…please!!” But instead I waited.
Another example took place just over a week ago. We were out shopping and Liz wanted to make a purchase. The more we talked about it, the more stressed I got. So I told Liz, “I’m feeling pressured and stressed the more we talk about this.” She immediately suggested we take a break. We ate some lunch, talked about other stuff, and after about an hour were able to revisit the decision and come to an agreement that we were both comfortable with.
Obviously, just because the two of you agree on something doesn’t mean you’ll never make a bad decision. However, I do think God honors it when you honor your spouse this way. And we all make better decisions when we aren’t feeling pressured into doing something we aren’t ready to do.
What do you think?
Part 2 in a couple days…