Biblical decision making begins with a willingness to submit your intentions to God's perfect will and humbly follow his direction. The problem is that most of us don't know how to figure out exactly what God's will is in every decision we face—especially the big, life-altering decisions.
This step-by-step plan lays out a spiritual road map for biblical decision making. I learned this method about 20 years ago while in Bible school and have used it time and time again throughout the many transitions of my life.
Biblical Decision Making Steps
- Begin with prayer. Frame your attitude into one of trust and obedience as you commit the decision to prayer. There's no reason to be fearful in decision making when you are secure in the knowledge that God has your best interest in mind.
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (NIV)
- Define the decision. Ask yourself if the decision involves a moral or non-moral area. It is actually a little easier to discern the will of God in moral areas because most of the time you will find clear direction in God's Word. If God has already revealed his will in Scripture, your only response is to obey. Non-moral areas still require the application of biblical principles, however, sometimes the direction is harder to distinguish.
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. (NIV)
- Be ready to accept and obey God's answer. It's unlikely that God will reveal his plan if he knows already that you won't obey. It is absolutely essential that your will be completely submitted to God's. When your will is humbly and fully submitted to the Master, you can have confidence that he will illuminate your path.
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 show you which path to take. (NLT)
- Exercise faith. Remember too, that decision making is a process that takes time. You may have to resubmit your will over and over again to God throughout the process. Then by faith, which pleases God, trust him with a confident heart that he will reveal his will.
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (NIV)
- Seek concrete direction. Begin investigating, evaluating and gathering information. Find out what the Bible says about the situation? Gain practical and personal information that relates to the decision, and begin writing down what you learn.
- Obtain counsel. In difficult decisions it's wise to get spiritual and practical counsel from the godly leaders in your life. A pastor, elder, parent, or simply a mature believer can often contribute important insight, answer questions, remove doubts and confirm inclinations. Make sure to choose individuals who will offer sound biblical advice and not just say what you want to hear.
Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed. (NIV)
- Make a list. First write down the priorities you believe God would have in your situation. These are not the things that are important to you, but rather the things that are most important to God in this decision. Will the outcome of your decision draw you closer to God? Will it glorify him in your life? How will it impact those around you?
- Weigh the decision. Make a list of the pros and cons connected with the decision. You may find that something on your list clearly violates the revealed will of God in his Word. If so, you have your answer. This is not his will. If not, then you now have a realistic picture of your options to help you make a responsible decision.
- Choose your spiritual priorities. By this time you should have enough information to establish your spiritual priorities as they relate to the decision. Ask yourself which decision best satisfies those priorities? If more than one option will fulfill your established priorities, then choose the one which is your strongest desire!
Sometimes God gives you a choice. In this case there is no right and wrong decision, but rather a freedom from God to choose, based on your preferences. Both options are within God's perfect will for your life and both will lead to the fulfillment of God's purpose for your life.
- Act on your decision. If you have arrived at your decision with the sincere intention of pleasing the heart of God, incorporating biblical principles and wise counsel, you can proceed with confidence knowing that God will work out his purposes through your decision.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (NIV)