Pastors are always making decisions. Some decisions are minor, “Should we offer donuts or bagels or both on Sunday mornings?” Some decisions are major, “Should I ask Bob to become a board member?” Whether the issue is big or small, minor or major, pastors are faced with decisions. Learning how to make great decisions is a skill. I’ve discovered five essentials for making great decisions.
1. Great decisions are preceded by great thinking. Leadership guru John Maxwell believes that the hardest thing to get people to do is, “…to think, and to do things in order of importance.” My experience in working with leaders would cause me to agree. Decisions must be preceded by thinking.
2. Thinking needs to be regarded as a spiritual discipline. Thinking to me is not simply some mental exercise, but a spiritual exercise. When we think, I mean really think, we need to invite the Holy Spirit to enter into our thinking process. In this way, thinking almost takes on the form of listening-prayer.
3. Time must be set apart for thinking. Usually we do our thinking on the run or in the midst of much distraction. This is not an entirely useless way to think but it will not result in the best thinking. We need to set apart specific time for the sole purpose of thinking. Thinking-time should be scheduled into our week like an appointment we keep like any other appointment we would make.
4. We must make sure we are thinking about what we should be thinking about. This is where the Holy Spirit comes in. We set apart thinking time, but we don’t rush into it. We pause, we wait, we pray, “Holy Spirit, I think I know what I need to think about but I wait upon You. Show me what I need to be thinking about.” This cautious and reflective approach will often lead us into areas of thinking we did not anticipate.
5. When thinking, the focus must be on asking the right questions rather than getting the right answers. Questions always result in answers. Great questions, great answers. No questions, no answers. For example, if I am faced with the decision whether or not to ask Bob to become a board member. I need to think through questions such as: 1) What am I looking for in a board member? 2) How did I come up with these criteria? 3) Why do I feel Bob is a good fit? These are great questions that will result in a great decision.
Let me challenge you to write into your calendar thinking-time. Find some place relatively free from distraction. Bring along a yellow-pad. Sit down, pray, invite the Holy Spirit to invade your thinking. Ask questions, write down your answers. If you follow these five simple essentials you’ll find yourself making great decisions.
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