How to make better decisions

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked.

Whatever one sows, that will he also reap.

— Galatians 6:7

This little gem of a verse isn’t brain surgery. Paul isn’t explaining some great mystery or even proclaiming a new law to live by. He is simply reminding us how reality works. We reap what we sow. We won’t get figs from an apple tree or chicken sandwiches from a cow. Put tomato seeds in the ground and expect tomatoes, not corn.

We reap what we sow.

The ability to look at conditions and ride them out to conclusions is a mark of maturity. That’s why we train children by giving them consequences when they misbehave. They are not naturally wired yet to think down the road so they must be trained in that discipline. A child’s thought life is very much present-tense. A friend’s child proved this recently when he snuck out of bed late one night and ate a tube of toothpaste. Clearly, his “if-then” function was not operating at a high level at that juncture.

Let’s just say it didn’t work out well for him.

We reap what we sow.

This principle becomes incredibly relevant in an election year when we make huge decisions about who will lead our country next. Each of us will make a decision and cast a vote based on what we value. Based on what we’ve seen so far, I suspect that maybe some folks are making their presidential choices the way a child makes a choice at a donut shop. “I’m not interested in nutritional value. Just give me the thing with the most sprinkles on it.”

Even now, we’re seeing Paul’s principle lived out. We reap what we sow.

But make no mistake: our decisions have consequences. Our voting choices, our moral choices, our parenting choices, our spiritual choices, even our eating choices all have consequences and most of those choices have the potential to shape not just our lives but our world.

Decisions determine destiny. My decisions determine the direction my life takes and my decisions make an impact on other lives and destinies, too. So learning to make a better brand of decision becomes an important thing.

John Maxwell puts it this way: “Sow a thought reap an action, sow an action reap a habit, sow a habit reap a destiny.”

A friend was talking about this with me last week and said, “My many and most colossal mistakes were those using the best information available, but missing the element of God’s wisdom and blessing. I guess I always assumed he would see my brilliance and validate the choice.” I don’t think he is alone in that experience. I suspect lots of us tend to make decisions as if they are an assignment to be graded. We do them, we turn them in, and then we hope for the best.

But this isn’t God’s best for us. It isn’t how we’re taught to make choices. We’re not taught to sow then hope for the best, but to learn to sow well so we can be confident about the harvest.

As this year unfolds, here’s what I want for you, my friend. I want your decisions to incubate in something deeper than SELF. I don’t want your choices to start with what feels right to you in the moment. I don’t want them to start with self-interest or childish bias. I don’t want them to originate in or react from fear. I want your decisions to reflect the mind of Christ.

1. Start with the harvest. What does yours look like?

Have you taken time to dream God’s dreams for your life? Do you have a vision and a goal that is bigger than what’s for supper? What do you want to contribute to the world? What are your gifts? What breaks your heart? Look down the road toward the end game and get a vision for that first. Then back up from that point and ask yourself if what you’re doing now is heading you in that direction.

2. Will what you’re sowing now get you to the harvest you’re hoping for?

Picture what your harvest looks like, then back up from there and ask yourself — Are the things I’m doing now setting up for the harvest I’m hoping for? If I’ve always wanted to read the Bible all the way through but I’ve never actually opened one, I’m probably not going to get there. If I’ve always sensed a call to teach children, then what am I doing right now to point me in that direction?

3. Are you sowing from the past or for the future?

We’ve all felt the desperation of “If only” thinking. If only I’d gone to college … If only I’d married later in life … If only I’d taken better care of my body …  We can drown in ‘if-onlys,” but there comes a time when we have to decide how much we believe in grace, which doesn’t live in the past but challenges us to stand up and start from here.

I want your decisions to incubate in and be born out of two things: a vision for the harvest and the voice of the Holy Spirit. This is where wise choices are born. Wise decisions are incubated in and born out of a vision for the harvest and the voice of the Holy Spirit. Learning to start from this place will change the way you see and affect the world around you.

Carolyn Moore

I follow Jesus within the communities of Mosaic Church, Asbury Seminary and the Moore household.