Every decision you make provides a view into your head. When you make a decision, you are making a statement about the way you think, about what you value, and about what you’re looking forward to. I’ve been thinking about the courage it takes to make hard choices. Part of this is coming from my thoughts as a sermon-preparer and giver. I’m preaching more regularly than I ever have and it’s both rigorous for my weekly calendar and for my soul.
I have a list of things in my red journal that I want to be different about me because I’m speaking to a congregation who is listening and looking for my own life to be changed. I think it makes a difference preparing messages with that in my mind–that “these people expect me to live up to my words,” words which in the case of the Bronzeville congregation, because we’re wading through Matthew, are largely the words of Jesus. Following Jesus or being a Christian, if you will, is a series of daily decisions about whether I will follow while choosing what I’ll think and do in response to that Man.
That said, here is my first offering of a few things to consider as you make better decisions.
Draw wise people around you.
Resist the need or the urge or the temptation to make major decisions alone. Whether you started doing it when you were younger or whether you were convinced later on that smart people made their own decisions. A mark of wisdom is the inclusion of others in your life, in general, and in your decisions, in particular.
I learned about a clearness committee while in grad school at Wheaton. Scottie May has us reading Palmer. The clearness committee is a concept that I’ve implemented at various points in my life. The last two times was when my wife was deciding to leave one place of employment and when I was also discerning (at a different time) to leave my first church, Sweet Holy Spirit, to come to New Community and serve. At both times, the good people who sat with us ask great questions and some things came out that I still remember.
Parker Palmer writes about the committee, which comes out of the Quaker tradition. It’s kinda like a roundtable or a panel or a small group of people. The group is made up from people you trust, people you invite, to help you make a decision. You invite them to a table somewhere, give them some background for the choice before, open yourself for their questions, and you listen to yourself while you answer. That’s it. You hear what they have to say while questioning. You can only answer their questions, nothing else. You don’t tell them what you want necessarily. You simply hear what wisdom comes from them and from what they wish to ask.
The assumption behind this invitation to the table is that great wisdom 1) comes from you and 2) comes after the good and sometimes intense questions that a community of people level at you. You come to clarity, to clearness, to insight when you hear yourself, when you hear the insights of others.
Questions for you: What types of decisions have you asked others to help you with? How have you found a community, friends, or relatives helpful as you’ve made choices?