How to Make the Right Decision Every Time. Really?
By Chris Carpenter
CBN.com Program Director
CBN.com - Yes, I will!
No, I won’t!
I just don’t know.
When it comes to decision-making we have all been there. Sometimes we make our mind up with deft precision, an emphatic yes or no to take action on something in our lives that demands an answer. But then again, there are times when we wish we could be a bit more decisive, to be bold, even courageous when called upon. Instead, we can only shrug our shoulders and allow the wheels of our lives to spin in place.
Author Karen Jensen Salisbury believes that with a little help we can always make the right call, never succumbing to the wishy-washy waffling that so often overtakes us. In her latest book, How to Make the Right Decision Every Time, Jensen Salisbury identifies 10 keys for finding God’s direction for our lives.
I recently sat down with Jensen Salisbury to discuss why people so easily fall into the trap of making bad choices, how you can consistently make the right decisions, and how to listen for and hear God’s voice.
The title of your books suggests that even the best-intentioned people sometimes make the wrong decision. Why do so many people feel like they often make the wrong decision even when they think they are doing the right thing?
I think there are a lot of wrong things to base a decision on. We base a decision on money or on opinions or on feelings, or on our circumstances, and really looking through the book, the first key that I give, the subtitle is “10 Keys for Finding God’s Direction,” and that first key is to go to God; because He’s the one with the plan, He’s the one who loves us and can see the future and He does have a plan for our lives, and I think sometimes we either don’t ask Him when it comes to decision making, or we leave Him to the last until it’s too late and we’ve already made the decision, and then we ask Him to clean up the mess.
From your perspective having written this book, how can one consistently make the right decision every time? Or can you?
I think it’s going to God, learning how He leads us and how to hear His voice, and what His good plan is for us. He is paying attention to every detail of our life. I love Matthew 10:30 that says He’s counting the hairs on our heads. The hairs on our head are numbered. Think about it. When I combed my hair this morning some fell out, so it’s good thing He’s keeping a running count. He’s into the details of our life, and He knows more than we do about the future and the direction to take, and He loves us and He cares about it. And if you think about it, He has been a guide for His people all the way through history, Old Testament and New Testament. He’s always wanting to lead and guide His people, and if they follow His leading, they usually go in the right direction. And so it’s this kind of a reliance on Him, and learning how He leads and guides. I meet a lot of people who want to be in God’s will. They want to do what He says. They want to hear His voice but they’re not sure of the process. And so that’s kind of why I wanted to write it down and be able to hand it to them, so that they could understand the process and take the right steps, and make the right decisions.
You just mentioned hearing God’s voice. Many people would argue with you and say you can’t hear His voice. So, how can you learn to discern and recognize God’s voice?
I don’t know about you, but when I was a younger Christian, I used to listen to ministers say, ‘God told me this and God told me that.’ I used to want to throw a tomato at them, because how do you know it was God, and what was He saying, and did He talk out loud and how does this work. First of all you have to practice it, and we are going to kind of flub up, but it’s easy then to look back and go, oh, that was God, He was trying to talk to me. And really the way to get so familiar with how He’s speaking to you is through the Word. If you think about this, the Word of God is Him talking to us and we need to be so familiar with it that we recognize when it’s Him talking. You know, God says in John 10, “My sheep hear my voice, they know Me; I know them, they follow Me.” Most people know that scripture but we don’t apply it to our lives. We don’t say, wait a minute, I know Him, I hear His voice; I am His sheep, I hear His voice. And so by faith we say, no, I do hear His voice. I liken it to how the U.S. Treasury Department trains its agents to recognize counterfeit money. They smell it, they test it, they look at it under a microscope. They get so familiar with the real thing that if a counterfeit comes across their path, they recognize it right away. I think that’s the same with people and the Word. If we get so familiar with how God talks, how He thinks, how He moves, specifically and generally, then we would recognize a way that isn’t Him.
In How to Make the Right Decision Every Time, you highlight 10 keys for finding God’s direction in your life. I would like to dig into a couple of them. Let’s start with getting good advice. Why is it so important to get Godly counsel from those you trust?
There are so many good reasons because we don’t know everything. There are people who may be a little just farther down the road than us that know some stuff. Or they made ten mistakes in this area and now they’ve gotten it right. There is something about just being a little bit older, a lot of us have gone to the school of hard knocks, and we’ve learned by accident how not to do some things. I can remember my spiritual father saying, “Just take my word for this and don’t do it, because I learned the hard way, and if you take my word you won’t have to learn the hard way.” Sometimes we do that and sometimes we don’t. We still think we know more. I write in my book about what a good advisor looks like. The Bible says when you need counsel, go to a multitude of witnesses, but that doesn’t mean to a multitude of counselors. In a multitude of counselors there is wisdom. That doesn’t mean poll everybody you know, because then you’ll just get way too many opinions and you’ll be confused. God is not the author of confusion. God sets people in your life to be your mentors and advisors, whether it’s somebody you know or it’s just your pastor who you hear it from the pulpit, or somebody you hear preach on TV. God sets certain people in our lives to direct and guide us, and we can tell from the relationship between Paul and Timothy in the Bible what a godly advisor looks like. It’s somebody who has your best interest at heart, somebody whose life is already bearing fruit, somebody who challenges you but encourages you. And so you don’t just let anybody speak into your life, they need to have some of these qualities and they have to have your best interests at heart. Because some people have their own agenda when it comes to giving you advice, and those aren’t going to help you. You have to be careful whose advice you listen to.
Another one of your keys is to feed your faith and starve the doubt. Sounds simple enough but is it really when push comes to shove?
You can’t do any of this without the Word of God. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God, and none of us were meant to live life on this planet without the Word. Every day you go without reading the Bible is a day you’re trying to live life on your own strength, and it’s too hard for you. We are meant to be attached to God’s Word. It’s our guide. It’s our manual for life. It’s our instruction manual and you know what happens when you don’t follow the instructions.
I come to this realization every Christmas Eve when it comes to putting together toys.
(Laughs) You have to understand that even once you make a decision it’s going to take faith to walk it out. Or if you’re still trying to make a decision, it’s going to take faith one way or the other. You can’t go without the Word at any time. There’s a story of a guy who went ahead and quit his good job to get a better job, his dream job, but things started not going so well in his new job as they will. So, he just spent the rest of his time looking backwards saying, “Oh, I wish I’d never quit that former job. Oh, I wonder if I made the right decision?” Well, you did, so here we are. So, let’s not spend all our time in regret and looking backwards, let’s get into the Word and believe right here from where we are. If you missed it, God’s big enough to get you back to where you should be on the path for your life, but don’t spend all your time just regretting and second guessing yourself. Be in the Word and keep on believing.
Of the 10 keys that you write about, is there any one that you feel is the most important one to master, one that makes all the other keys to fall into place?
That would be the first one – determining to be led by God. You have to decide to base your decisions on hearing from God and nothing else, because that sets you in the right direction. Lots of us make decisions based on pressure and if you do that, then you’re already off the track, and you don’t know where you’re going to end up. Just decide in your head, I’m not doing anything until I’m pretty sure this is what God is telling me to do.
As an author, what is your greatest hope for How to Make the Right Decision Every Time?
I’d like them to see that they do hear from God, they can make right decisions; that God has a great plan for them and it’s not scary. It’s always going to take faith to step out of that boat and walk on the water, but the thing is you can make right decisions every time if you follow these keys. You can get in His plan and your future is bright.
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