A. Proverbs 3:5-8 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.
1. There are several principles regarding decision-making can be seen
from this verse as well as from other verses (Prov. 14:12; 18:12;
28:26; Jer. 17:9; James 4:13-16; Gal. 6:7-8; John 15:5):
a. God wants his people to be humble and to approach him
b. He wants us to realize that we must consider who we are
before him and recognize just what our abilities truly are.
c. And even when we think everything is right, trusting in our
ways or methods will fail.
2. Keep your priorities in sight.
a. Your primary priority is your relationship with God.
b. Your secondary priorities can be organized by determining:
(1) What is required?
(2) What gives the greatest return?
(3) What will be the reward? – John Maxwell
I was forced to re-evaluate my priorities. What did God want me to
do on earth? What was He seeking? Educated Christians?
“Successful” pastors? Popular writers? No. At least, these are not number
one on His list. He was seeking worshippers! He was looking for men
and women who knew Him. “The people who know their God will
display strength and take action” (Daniel 11:32). In fact, the Scriptures
teach, “The eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that
He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His”
(2 Chronicles 16:9).
– Irwin Lutzer in Failure, the Backdoor to Success
B. Proverbs 4:26-27 tells us to “Make level paths for your feet and take
only ways that are firm. Do not swerve to the right or to the left. Keep
your foot from evil.”
1. A principle that can be derived from this is:
a. Pursue realistic courses or options, and pursue those paths
that seem to be firm.
b. Don’t be distracted by wrong goals, motives or pursuits.
2. Some questions you can ask:
a. Are my options realistic?
b. Are any of my options unrealistic?
c. Is my heart’s motive pure in this?
d. Will this choice further my relationship with the Lord
or hinder it?
e. Which choice will give God the greater glory, if any?
f. Do any of my options violate Scripture?
C. Make your plans by seeking advice. (Proverbs 9:8-9; 11:14; 15:22;
1. A principle here would be: Look to those who can offer advice
(biblical, with common sense, etc.) and give guidance, such as elders
and those who have gone through a similar experience (and learned
from it) (Eccles. 5:1-7; 9:17-18).
Warning, as Pastor Robert Needham has said, “Do not make
you decision one the basis of the experience of others! It is
absolutely impossible for you to know all the hidden variables
that entered into their circumstances and decision(s). This is
not meant to invalidate the counsel of parents and others in
authority, but to avoid the trap of assuming that other’s
experiences are a suitable model for your decisions (2 Cor.
10:12; Eccles. 7:10).”
2. The best advice, of course, is from the Lord. Seek him through
prayer and ask for his direction. (Matt. 7:7-11; 21:21-22; John 14:14;
15:7; Phil. 4:6-7; Col. 3:17)
3. Some questions you can ask:
a. What does God say from his Word about the question(s) at
b. Who do I know that can offer straightforward advice?
c. What elders can I seek out who can make some wise
suggestions or give insight?
d. Are there others who have gone through the same kind of
experience or have had to make the same kind of decisions
that might have “hindsight wisdom?”
D. The way of a foolish person is right in his own eyes, but a wise person
listens to counsel (Proverbs 12:15)
1. A Principle: Seeking to be wise, I will consider the advice I have
been given, and will listen intently, even when it goes against what
2. A few questions to consider:
a. Am I seeking the advice of others in order to find someone
who will give me what I want to hear?
b. Am I listening intently to the advice of others and seriously
considering what they have to offer?
c. Am I listening intently to the advice of Scripture and the Holy
d. Am I willing to take risks or make changes if this is God’s will
for my life?
E. A person who lacks judgment enjoys his foolishness, but one who is filled
with understanding keeps a straight course (Proverbs 15:21).
1. A Principle: Bliss or feeling happy about something doesn’t make a
Being a biblically wise person (seeking to think God’s thoughts after
Him) will help me keep a good course of direction in a diligent
manner. Wavering is a pleasure for the fool.
2. Some questions you could ask:
a. Do I find more comfort and security in not making decisions
than in making one?
b. Am I seeking to think God’s thoughts about this matter?
c. Have I searched the Scriptures to see if there is anything that
speaks to these issue(s)?
3. It is wrong to have a mind that nearly always wavers back and forth,
or is indecisive. This is especially true of a leader. Leaders who
cannot make decisions are not leaders at all. (Rom. 14:5; James
Be decisive. A leader is a decision maker, not a consensus seeker. If you are going
to introduce significant innovations, know that you will have to make some tough
calls and will probably offend some good people by virtue of your decisions. Be
sensitive and flexible, yes, but be firm in pursuing your convictions. George Barna,
edit, Leaders on Leadership p. 208
In 1 Kings 18:21 Elijah cries out, “How long will you go limping with two different
opinions: if the Lord is God follow him; but if Baal then follow him.” A leader
cannot be paralyzed by indecisiveness. He will take risks rather than do nothing.
He will soak himself in prayer and in the Word and then rest himself in God’s
sovereign as he makes decisions, knowing that he will very likely make some
mistakes. John Piper from an article The Marks of a Spiritual Leader
4. James 3:17 gives you direction for making decisions. Notice how
this verse can provide you with a seven-fold decision making process:
a. Is the decision pure. Does it separate me from sin and evil?
Does it promote moral holiness?
b. Is the decision peaceable? That is, does it promote peace?
This does not mean that just because you feel peaceful about
the decision then it is a right decision. The emotion of peace
can mean that you are relieved that you have found the
means to shirk responsibility. It can mean that you have
found a way to absolve you for doing something you did not
want to do. It could mean that you are pleased you have
decided to do something you wanted, but your conscience has
been seared sufficiently enough to repel any conviction about
a bad or sinful decision.
On the other hand, you should not make any decision if your
conscience is troubled. Now this means that your conscience
should be informed as much as possible from God’s Word.
Sometimes your conscience is bothered because making a
decision requires making an uncomfortable but needed
change; or because it goes against the culture you were
brought up in. If your conscience is bothered, then continue
to look into the matter and seek as much information and
counsel as you can before making a decision. As Robert
Needham has said, “If this principle (of conscience) is
violated, the end result is seldom a happy one…” The old
statement is often true, “If in doubt, don’t.” (Eccles. 1:18;
Rom. 14:13-23; 1 Cor. 8:7-13; 10:23-31)
c. Is it gentle (forbearing, considerate)?
d. Is it reasonable (willing to yield)?
Dr. Robert Stuart makes the following recommendation for
trying to figure out the reasonableness of the matter:
(1) Divide a page in to two sides and label one side “pros” and
the other side “cons.”
(2) List all of the pros and cons as you can possibly think of.
(3) Go back and label all of the pros and cons with “A” for critically
important, “B” for important, and “C” for not that important
(4) Put the list away and take time to pray for guidance and
(5) Go back and change all of the “B’s” into either “A’s” or “C’s”
(6) Now throw all of your “C’s” away and consider only what you
e. Is it full of mercy or compassion?
f. Is it something that will produce good fruit? Will you get a good
return, is it of value or profitable (not necessarily in terms of
g. Is it without favoritism or prejudice?
h. Is genuine, sincere or without hypocrisy?
F. Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that
prevails (16:33; 19:21).
1. Principle: No matter how hard I plan to do things, ultimately it is
God’s Sovereign plan for my life that succeeds.
2. A wise leader will recognize God’s authority, presence and power
in everything. He will understand that only God can bless anything
and everything at all (Psa. 37:4-5; Matt. 6:19-34; Jn 8:31-36; 15:1-7;
Phil. 4:6-7; Col. 3:17; James 1:5-8).
3. Some helpful questions you could ask:
a. Have I committed this decision to the Lord? (In other words,
have I told Him that I will rest in the knowledge that He is
control ultimately, no matter what decision I make?)
b. Have I purposed in my heart not to worry, but rather to give
thanks for the process and for the outcome?
c. Have I made the commitment to do what is right before the
G. There is great counsel and sound wisdom in God and His Word.
Seeking God’s wisdom is understanding and great power for success
A Principle: Success is always linked to godly wisdom and good counsel.
The person who plans well will often “win” or succeed.
(c) D. Thomas Owsley