Making decisions is a daily occurrence for each and every one of us. They are a normal part of life, and they are often important over the course of time. In our daily decision-making, we are to consider that our choices can have a significant impact, either favorably or unfavorably, on our lives and the lives of others.
In its simplicity, decisions are ultimately categorized one of two ways–from a godly perspective or from a worldly perspective…from a selfish motivation or those that are with God in mind. Your decisions can bring honor to God or disgrace to Him.
In the book Hard Call by John McCain with Mark Salter (Hatchette Book Group, USA, 2007), McCain writes a chapter about Branch Rickey, the General Manager for the Brooklyn Dodgers, who made the decision to break baseball’s color barrier by bringing Jackie Robinson to the major leagues. The game of baseball, at that time, was a mirror of society’s segregation. The only opportunity for black ballplayers was to play in the Negro Leagues, and there was the longstanding practice of “colored men” only being allowed to stay in places, and not being allowed to eat or stay at “white” facilities. Rickey was a man of conviction and who noted the injustices of how blacks were treated in society. He made the fateful, yet calculated, decision to find the best black ballplayer in the country that would have the intelligence, stamina and ability to endure all of the jeering and hatred that would be directed to the one who would be first. His scouts, and even a black baseball writer confirmed that Jackie Robinson would be that player. Before signing Robinson and having him play at the Dodgers’ AAA team at Montreal, Rickey had to make sure that six things were in place that would allow for Robinson’s successful entry to the major leagues:
- The support and backing of the Dodgers directors
- That Robinson would be the right man on the field (by not fighting back when being provoked)
- That Robinson was a man of character when he was not playing (traveling with the team; staying out of trouble)
- That there would be a favorable reaction from the press and the public
- That there would be support and backing, through communication through the black press, to blacks themselves to see that the project would be a success; in other words, prepare the audience for the tolerance of opposition that they, too, would encounter (blacks were being encouraged to attend the ballgames and begin the integration of fans at the ballparks)
- The acceptance of Robinson’s presence and play by his future teammates
Rickey’s decisions throughout this process created the event that forever changed the sport of baseball. Jackie Robinson joined the Dodgers and was named by The Sporting News as their first ever Rookie of the Year at age 28. He was league MVP two years later and helped the Dodgers win six pennants and a World Series championship. It was the courage of Rickey’s decision making and Robinson’s decision to accept Rickey’s offer to play that shaped change all over America. This is proof that decision-making can have a significant impact outside of our immediate sphere of influence.
McCain writes that effective decision-making requires:
1. Awareness. Who are the enemies in your life? The Holy Spirit help you to use discernment.
2. Foresight. In your decision-making process, look at the possibilities from the direction that you take.
3. Timing. Wait on the Lord and be ready to move when it is time to move.
4. Confidence. Your ability is not in yourself, but in the Lord (Proverbs 3:5-6)
5. Humility. Adversity is a by-product of life…you need to know how to accept adversity and difficulty in your experience and how to respond properly in your decision-making process.
6. Inspiration. Be inspired by who you are in Jesus Christ–knowing who you are and His will for your life. God has a plan and a purpose for your life.
Sometimes good decision-making is not rewarded with immediate results. One decision may lead to another decision. Ultimately, the hard decisions need to be made in order for things to get better. The purpose of your decision has to be greater than you, just as Branch Rickey’s decision impacted Jackie Robinson, his wife, the other ballplayers, and an entire society. Only after the right and the hard decisions are made, God will act. God will move as you remain obedient to Him. You have to come to the point before you make the decision that you are doing so according to God’s will, His plan and His purpose. Decisions require careful thought and consideration.
Poor decision-making can lead to dire consequences that will effect not just you but even future generations that follow you.
1 Kings 11:1-13
King Solomon loved many foreign women in addition to Pharaoh’s daughter: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women from the nations that the Lord had told the Israelites about, “Do not intermarry with them, and they must not intermarry with you, because they will turn you away from Me to their gods.” Solomon was deeply attached to these women and loved them. He had 700 wives who were princesses and 300 concubines, and they turned his heart away from the Lord. When Solomon was old, his wives seduced him to follow other gods. He was not completely devoted to Yahweh his God, as his father David had been. Solomon followed Ashtoreth, the goddess of the Sidonians, and Milcom, the detestable idol of the Ammonites. Solomon did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, and unlike his father David, he did not completely follow Yahweh. At that time, Solomon built a high place for Chemosh, the detestable idol of Moab, and for Milcom, the detestable idol of the Ammonites, on the hill across from Jerusalem. He did the same for all his foreign wives, who were burning incense and offering sacrifices to their gods. The Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned away from Yahweh, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice. He had commanded him about this, so that he would not follow other gods, but Solomon did not do what the Lord had commanded. Then the Lord said to Solomon, “Since you have done this and did not keep My covenant and My statutes, which I commanded you, I will tear the kingdom away from you and give it to your servant. However, I will not do it during your lifetime because of your father David; I will tear it out of your son’s hand. Yet I will not tear the entire kingdom away from him. I will give one tribe to your son because of my servant David and because of Jerusalem that I chose.”
Because of Solomon’s transgressions, Jeroboam was given the kingdom with God’s promise of dynasty in the same way as David had…provided that he was obedient to God.
1 Kings 11:26-39
Now Solomon’s servant, Jeroboam son of Nebat, was an Ephraimite from Zeredah. His widowed mother’s name was Zeruah. Jeroboam rebelled against Solomon, and this is the reason he rebelled against the king: Solomon had built the supporting terraces and repaired the opening in the wall of the city of his father David. Now the man Jeroboam was capable, and Solomon noticed the young man because he was getting things done. So he appointed him over the entire labor force of the house of Joseph. During that time, the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite met Jeroboam on the road as Jeroboam came out of Jerusalem. Now Ahijah had wrapped himself with a newcloak, and the two of them were alone in the open field. Then Ahijah took hold of the new cloak he had on, tore it into 12 pieces, and said to Jeroboam, “Take 10 pieces for yourself, for this is what the Lord God of Israel says: ‘I am about to tear the kingdom out of Solomon’s hand. I will give you 10 tribes, but one tribe will remain his because of my servant David and because of Jerusalem, the city I chose out of all the tribes of Israel. For they have abandoned Me; they have bowed the knee to Ashtoreth, the goddess of the Sidonians, to Chemosh, the god of Moab, and to Milcom, the god of the Ammonites. They have not walked in My ways to do what is right in My eyes and to carry out My statutes and My judgments as his father David did. “‘However, I will not take the whole kingdom from his hand but will let him be ruler all the days of his life because of My servant David, whom I chose and who kept My commands and My statutes. I will take 10 tribes of the kingdom from his son’s hand and give them to you. I will give one tribe to his son, so that My servant David will always have a lamp before Me in Jerusalem, the city I chose for Myself to put My name there. I will appoint you, and you will reign as king over all you want, and you will be king over Israel. “‘After that, if you obey all I command you, walk in My ways, and do what is right in My sight in order to keep My statutes and My commands as My servant David did, I will be with you. I will build you a lasting dynasty just as I built for David, and I will give you Israel. I will humble David’s descendants, because of their unfaithfulness, but not forever.’”
Decisions can have fateful consequences when the wrong decision is made.
2 Chronicles 10:1-18
Then Rehoboam went to Shechem, for all Israel hadgone to Shechem to make him king. When Jeroboamson of Nebat heard about it—for he was in Egypt where he had fled from King Solomon’s presence —Jeroboam returned from Egypt. So they summoned him. Then Jeroboam and all Israel came and spoke to Rehoboam: “Your father made our yoke difficult. Therefore, lighten your father’s harsh service and the heavy yoke he put on us, and we will serve you.” Rehoboam replied, “Return to me in three days.” So the people left. Then King Rehoboam consulted with the elders who had served his father Solomon when he was alive, asking, “How do you advise me to respond to these people?” They replied, “If you will be kind to these people and please them by speaking kind words to them, they will be your servants forever.” But he rejected the advice of the elders who had advised him, and he consulted with the young men who had grown up with him, the ones serving him. He asked them, “What message do you advise we send back to these people who said to me, ‘Lighten the yoke your father put on us’?” Then the young men who had grown up with him told him, “This is what you should say to the people who said to you, ‘Your father made our yoke heavy, but you, make it lighter on us!’ This is what you should say to them: ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s loins. Now therefore, my father burdened you with a heavy yoke, but I will add to your yoke; my father disciplined you with whips, but I, with barbed whips.’” So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam on the third day, just as the king had ordered, saying, “Return to me on the third day.” Then the king answered them harshly. King Rehoboam rejected the elders’ advice and spoke to them according to the young men’s advice, saying, “My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to it; my father disciplined you with whips, but I, with barbed whips.” The king did not listen to the people because the turn of events came from God, in order that the Lord might carry out His word that He had spoken through Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam son of Nebat. When all Israel saw that the king had not listened to them, the people answered the king: What portion do we have in David? We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse. Israel, each man to your tent; David, look after your own house now! So all Israel went to their tents. But as for the Israelites living in the cities of Judah, Rehoboam reigned over them. Then King Rehoboam sent Hadoram, who was in charge of the forced labor, but the Israelites stoned him to death. However, King Rehoboam managed to get into his chariot to flee to Jerusalem. Israel is in rebellion against the house of David until today.
As King Solomon’s decisions had changed his method of rule over the people of Israel, the people were burdened and wanted relief. When the opportunity came for King Rehoboam to follow the advice of his elders, he chose to, instead, listen to his peers. Note that the decision made by King Rehoboam was ultimately the wrong decision. It was the wrong decision, but it was still according to God’s will (2 Chronicles 10:15). The result was that Israel would eventually rebel against the king and would be “in rebellion against the house of David until today” (2 Chronicles 10:19). There will often be good advice and bad advice provided to you when it comes time to make a decision. It is very important to seek wise counsel who have knowledge and understanding, especially from those who seek their own counsel from God and His Word. Godly counsel is always better than worldly advice. If you cannot support your decision-making spiritually and with God’s Word as a foundation, then it is best not to make it. We may not always like the results and the circumstances surrounding our decisions, but they are best for us in the long run, for He loves us and wants us to be successful in our service for Him.
The lesson in all of this is that people are often dealing with all kinds of issues, and we need to be aware of the importance of choices as we relate to others in winning them for Christ, while Christ builds, nurtures and strengthens you.