The Lord, in his goodness, has given us decisions to make in our daily lives. Some of those decisions seem relatively insignificant—like what to eat or how to cut our hair. But the constant barrage of choices can be stressful.
Especially perplexing is the choice between multiple good options—when a decision can have more than one beneficial outcome based on our decision. How can we weigh those options and choose that which is most God-honoring?
1. Pray for God’s guidance in seeking his will.
Commit your work to the Lord, then it will succeed. (Proverbs 16:3)
Jesus said to his disciples, “Anything you ask for in my name, I will do, that my Father may be glorified in the son (John 14:13).” The first step should always be to bring concerns and choices before God in prayer. It is important to note that Jesus’s main focus is not fulfilling our requests, but glorifying the Father. If any request is not glorifying to the Father, then it is not worthy of being asked for in the name of Christ and should be avoided.
Paul tells us that “whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).” There is a lot of freedom in what can glorify God once you are in Christ. Pray to God for guidance in choosing his best for you at this time.
2. Praise God for his blessings.
While in prayer, praise God for his provision and abundant grace. Choosing between multiple good things is a wonderful problem to have! Any decision can be stressful, but choosing between two legitimately good outcomes is a blessing.
Both Romans and Hebrews tell us that, while we were in our sin, it was impossible for us to do anything to please God. Now, in Christ, we are free to bring pleasing gifts to our God in every moment. This is why we should “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
3. Go to Scripture.
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
The Bible is the primary way in which God speaks to us. The Holy Spirit may stir something within us, God may guide us with circumstances, but there is no work of God in any believer’s life that will not conform to the revealed word of God in the Bible.
So search the Scriptures for guidance in all circumstances. If you find that Scripture does not support an option before you, you know that option is to be discarded.
4. Use your Christ-redeemed mind to analyze the situation.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2)
God gave us our minds. If we are in Christ and he is us, then our minds have been freed to work for him. Therefore, we can bring those capacities which God has given us—logic, reason, and rational thought—and use them to discern his will in light of his revelation.
When my wife and I starting having kids, we disagreed about having one of us stay home, partially because our financial situation didn’t seem to allow for only one income.
While we struggled with bringing the matter before God, we truly wanted his will to be done, and he had mercy on us—he provided us with phenomenal daycare and an abundantly supportive family. For the time, it seemed that we would both keep working.
Almost three years and two kids later, our ridiculously affordable, amazingly proficient, godly in-home nanny was led to a different job. This caused us to revisit the idea of one of us staying home.
Over that time, we had both seen success in our jobs, and the Lord had guided us to be much better with our finances. We could almost afford to live on either of our salaries alone. Also, we had been spoiled by excellent child care and were uncomfortable with other new options. Therefore, we agreed that one of us should stay home.
We prayed and considered how best to continue. My wife loved her job, I struggled with mine; she worked close to home, I commuted over an hour one-way; she had lots of room to grow, I felt I’d hit a ceiling. It seemed to us that God was leading me to stay home.
5. Seek godly counsel.
Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety. (Proverbs 11:14)
Even after careful prayer, diligent searching of Scripture, and rational thoughtfulness, it can be hard to know the right course. But Jesus is the head of a great Church, and he has put us here to do life together.
Talk to someone about decisions or struggles you are facing. It can be a spouse, close friend, mentor, or pastor. You may need to talk to multiple people.
Once it seemed as if I were the best choice to stay home with the kids, we began seeking counsel. I talked to my pastor about the Scriptural issues with that decision and emailed several other pastors with similar questions. I talked to my Bible study about concerns with that sort of life change. We both talked with close friends about possible relationship issues that could arise. We met with people whom we felt were discerning and wise, taking our cue from Scripture: “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed (Proverbs 15:22).”
6. Analyze your motivations.
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9)
My wife and I were fairly confident where God was leading, but I still had some reservations. Some of my motivations were suspect. I didn’t like my job, I wanted more time at home, and I arrogantly overstated my place in my children’s spiritual development. I worried that I was pushing this outcome for my own selfish purposes.
We must always guard against the sin that resides in our flesh and against which we still struggle. Sin wants to corrupt every good thought and deed and to cause the believer to become petrified and stagnant.
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:8)
Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! (Psalm 139:23-24)
We can’t do nothing, but neither can we run ahead blindly and hope for the best. As God searches us constantly, we must also search ourselves and lay all sin before him. If we are diligent to confess, he will forgive our sin and lead us on.
A good place to start in prayer on such things is to ask, “Does this course of action benefit anyone besides myself?” Jesus has freed us to glorify God in many ways, but we are not to use our
…freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Galatians 13b-14)
If you are the only person who truly benefits from any course of action, that course should be highly suspect.
7. Accept that the answer may not be as clear as you desire.
We want a clear message from God on the way to go, but that is rarely how he works. Even after prayer, Bible study, soul-searching, wise counsel, and diligent thought, you may not have an obvious directive. Usually some option will stand out, but there may still be unanswered concerns.
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. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
The Lord has promised that he will guide those who devote themselves to him. He never promised a roadmap; he promised to take our hand and walk with us.
No part of your life is arbitrary or happenstance:
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10).
Those of us in Christ, who have laid our daily decisions before him, can choose with confidence, knowing that part of our freedom is the reassurance that God will not allow anything to impede his good and perfect will.