The Four “p’s” of Decision Making

I have not written a post for a long time, and there is a reason for that. In my last post, I mentioned that I am in a significant life decision process. And over the past few months, I have been in the midst of that process, facing decision after decision in rapid-fire form. This process could continue on for months – I really don’t know. But I wanted to write about some resources that have helped me thus far.

In the beginning of this process, I wanted to establish one main thing: I was going to seek God in this decision process. I set aside one day to fast from food. The fasting was a way to physically express that I was going to need to depend on God and to focus on Him throughout this process. I also prayed that day, and prayer has been happening on a daily basis since. I’ve been asking God to help me with the confusing aspects of the decisions I’ve had to make, and to provide clarity where it is needed.

As I’ve talked to people about my situation, they have offered to pray for me as well. It’s amazing that several people volunteered to do so without me asking them to. People haven’t only helped me through prayer. They have taken the time to listen as I explain all the complexities of my decisions, and to offer thoughts that have helped me in many cases.

In one case, I talked to Greg Koukl, who hosts a radio show called Stand to Reason. After listening to my situation, Greg offered some thoughts that were very helpful. My big take-away from that conversation came when Greg basically summarized what I told him. He said that I seem to be asking, “What opportunity or situation is more consistent with my abilities or my propensities or my goals?”

After hearing that summary, I immediately thought, “YES! That was exactly what I was thinking this whole time – I just never thought to put it in that way!” That conversation changed the way I thought through my situation, and how I described it to others. Conversations like this one have slowly given me clarity in spots where I was once confused.

When clarity comes slowly, I have found it difficult to be patient. There are plenty of moments when I want it all to be over – to see the end result now. But I know that patience is needed when making a big decision. I wouldn’t want to make a decision “on a whim” only to regret that decision later. Time is needed to be in prayer, to consider the various factors involved with the decision, and to gain confidence in making the right decision.

One practical resource that has helped me in this process is the classic “pro-con” list. In its simplest form, this type of list lays out the advantages and disadvantages of making a particular decision. But the format that has most helped me is a little more complex, and could be called a “comparison chart”.  Perhaps this format could help you as well, so below is a sample showing how this chart is laid out. In this sample, I made up a decision someone needs to make between two job options – Viewing Corp and Out Inc:

PC list sample5

In a sense, this type of list spells out the pros and cons of a decision, but it does so by analyzing each specific factor involved in that decision. I like using this comparison chart because it helps me to make sure I am considering all the factors that are important in making a decision.

I’ll call all the resources I described the four “p’s” of decision making for Christians – prayer, people, patience, and pro-con lists. Prayer to seek God through your decision-making process. People who listen and offer support through prayer and advice. Patience to take the time needed to make the best decision. And pro-con lists to sort through the factors involved in your decision.

Even as I’ve gone to these resources, the decisions I’ve been facing have been hard. But all I can do is trust God, make the best decisions I can, and move forward.

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