Wouldn’t it be great to get a text from God letting you know he wants you to hang in there? I have lived in many places and I have worked a lot of different jobs. Some of my work and some of those places have felt like callings, others seemed to be a bridge, and still others seemed to be a paycheck.
So how do we determine if we are in the right place? How do I know if I should stay in my current job? How do I know if I should move or stay put? How do I know whether to get the cheeseburger or the chicken salad?
I cannot answer any of those questions for you . . . For free . . . But if you’d like me to tell you what to do, I’d be glad to for the right price. But on a more serious note, let me just humbly suggest the following list of 5 considerations as you seek wisdom in your major life decisions.
1. Why would you want to change?
I would contend that one of the most important and most elusive elements to any decision-making process is our own motivations. But sometimes being honest with ourselves requires us to set up a meeting with ourselves and sit down and talk it through.
We live in a culture that seems like it is pining for change. I speak with many people who are dissatisfied with their home, dissatisfied with their job, and eager to claim the “something more” that is out there for them.
Dissatisfaction can come from many places. And the list includes greed and pride which seem to be dangerous motivations.
2. Is change practically beneficial?
Once again, an honest look at the answer to this question can be challenging. We do not have a crystal ball, and nobody can determine the outcome of some future hypothetical change. But it is funny to me when I look back at my own life and I couldn’t wait to get that new iPhone with the upgraded processor only to realize that my eyes and brain cannot register any difference in that “blazing speed”.
I have made decisions without really asking this question. And I believe I will make better decisions if I ask this question and really seek a reasonable answer before I leap at any life change.
3. What would be developed in you by staying or going?
The answer to this question will frame the decision in terms of the interest of God in your life. Rather than ask “where does God want me to be?”, “what does God want me to do?”, or “what would Jesus do?”, I find it more helpful to ask, “what does Jesus want me to be?” I am not suggesting that our circumstances are unimportant to God, but I would suggest that we ought to consider our decisions in light of character development. The revealed will of God in Scripture is not about whether to move to this town or that town, to work at this company or that one. But the will of God is clearly revealed in the pages of the Bible, is primarily concerned with being conformed to the image of Christ in our character. Will staying be more likely to produce patience in me? Will going train my heart to avoid conflict? Will leaving stretch me and teach me to trust in God more? Will leaving expand my reach with the gospel? Will leaving cause me to give up opportunities where God is currently using me? The answers to these questions are personal to each person and each situation and yet answering them, will help us enter into any potential change with thoughts recentered on the importance of our character.
4. What are others saying to you about change in your life?
I have a strong independent streak. Some of my past and childhood play into the reality that I do not like to depend on anyone. And so I can address this question as a person who needs to heed this more than most. I have not been quick to consult with others over decisions. Even one major life decision; moving back from England to the United States, was undertaken with minimal interaction with others. I did have some conversations, but they were not seeking advice as much as informing others what I had decided.
But God has created us with a need for community and accountability. There are people who can give us a more objective viewpoint on our decisions. We can get so myopic that we can miss the big picture. So seeking out the advise of others before taking a major plunge is always a good idea.
5. Do you deep down want to either stay or go, but just want affirmation or assurance that your decision is right?
Similar to number 1 above, this final question gets down to the heart of motivation. We can become paralyzed by decisions, especially major ones, and we would love for the responsibility to rest with others or with God. And I would suggest that many Christians look for validation of their own personal decisions with God or with others. If you want to sell your house and move into a new one, assess why, and then make your decision after you have worked through the above questions.
Being honest about the way you want things to go is actually helpful in the process. Acting like you are not emotionally vested in the outcome is not helpful. I personally have been guilty of pretending that the outcome is cool whichever way, while deep down, I was really hoping for a specific outcome! Who are we tricking when we do that?
Finding the will of God is not hard (open your Bible and read it all). Obeying it is tougher. And making decisions can be confusing. So when it comes to making decisions, I believe that these questions are a start in the process. I am sure others will be able to add to these questions. Please let me know any questions you have found helpful as you make big life decisions.