You fall into one of three categories. You’re either preparing to make one. You’re living in light of the consequences of one that you’ve made. Or you’re rethinking one that you were convinced of at some point in time. What am I talking about? Decisions. Major decisions. Life-Shaping Decisions.
There are two inevitabilities in life as it relates to decisions (and major decisions at that). (1) You’re going to have to make major life-shaping decisions more often than you think, and (2) no matter how confident you were when you made that decision, there’s going to come a point in time where you think that you made the wrong decision. I can guarantee that even on the “right path," there are rocky roads. At some point, the bottom is going to fall out, and the certainty that you had when you made the decision that you did is going to fade away. What then? What do we do when we’re doing what we’ve been “called to do” and things don’t turn out like “they should?” How do we maintain the certainty of our call in the midst of calamity?
Well, we have to revisit the way that we go about hearing from God. One of the great blessings God provides in this life is community, but in my experience I’ve seen that it’s been one of the most neglected of all of God’s gifts when it comes to decision making. We tend to view other people as individuals that will stand in the way of our happiness instead of tools that God has provided to ensure our holiness. They’re neglected and not viewed as necessities as it relates to hearing clearly from God.
In light of that, I have a confession to make. I’m biased. I’m very partial when it comes to me and what I want to do. So much so that I can rationalize a terrible decision and even use the Bible to make it sound like this is something that God wants me to do. The worst part about it is that I’m so biased to myself that I don’t even know when I do it all the time. If you’re honest, I would imagine that you’re the same way. But, what we all have to come to realize is that we see that confidence we once had in our decision transform into confusion when the bottom falls out.
Wisdom in Community
There’s a proverb that is repeated three times in the Bible, because I think that we need to hear it at least that many times before we even begin to pay attention to it’s importance.
Proverbs 11:14 – Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.
Proverbs 15:22 – Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.
Proverbs 24:6 - For by wise guidance you can wage your war, and in an abundance of counselors there is victory.
There’s wisdom in community. God’s wired us to be interdependent, and I think that he’s left us biased and partial to ourselves to remind us that we need other people to speak into our lives when we’re making major decisions that affect us.
Community is a great safeguard and a tool to spur us on into action. Think about it. Have you ever been in a movie theater and you misheard what someone said? Ever tried to receive instructions from someone and you have a hard time understanding what they’re saying? What’s the first thing that you do if there’s someone else around that you trust? You turn to that person and ask them, “Did he just say…?” You ask someone who has the same access to the information that you do if they heard what you heard. It’s likely that one person can misunderstand something that’s said. When you increase the number of trustworthy people and scrutinize what they’re hearing and you all come to the same conclusion, there is more confidence going forward that you heard correctly. The same is true when we’re seeking to hear from God in decision making. You put a whole bunch of people that are directing their thoughts and attention towards God (and have access to the same information—the Scriptures) and your chance for success skyrockets. This brings an amazing confidence and security that you can’t necessarily achieve in isolation.
For those of us that are apprehensive in doing what God has called us to do and are likely to constantly shrink back when times get hard, having a community that has been convinced of our call can spur us on to continue. For those of us that are overly ambitious and think we have to take advantage of every opportunity for greatness, this same community can be a great protection from our ambition and pull us back when we’re running full speed in the wrong direction. Community isn’t something to be neglected. It’s an absolute necessity when making major, life-shaping decisions.
Labor to hear from God & invite others to scrutinize
Informing people of decisions you’ve already made isn’t the same thing as inviting them in to help make those decisions. One almost always leads to heartache, pain, and uncertainty when the bottom falls out. The other almost always leads to the courage and strength that enables you to persevere when the bottom falls out. Communal consensus can be a great tool to help you push through the obstacles that lie ahead to ultimately see the opportunities that are only made visible by perseverance.
Don’t make major decisions in isolation. Labor to hear from God and quit leaning on your own personal biases. Invite others in. Invite other people that aren’t just centered on giving their two cents, but invite others that will labor to hear from God. Remember that God speaks clearly and freely through His Word. A community centered on hearing about God from His Word is perhaps the best resource to confidently determine God’s calling.
I pray you never make another major decision the same way again.