5 Steps to More Confident Pastoral Decisions
How do you make a decision? Do you know the steps? As pastors we know that our decisions can have an impact, not only on ourselves, but on our congregants, our community, and many we are not even aware of.
If you’re having trouble feeling confident in your actions and wish you had an unwavering self-belief in your decisions, maybe it’s time to look at your decision-making process. Decisions made impulsively or without careful thought might not always turn out the way you hope they will, and this is especially true when you are in a position of church leadership.
Of course, there’s something to be said for instinct and even dumb luck. But what if good decisions were inevitable rather than occasional? Imagine for a moment how it would feel to know you’re right before you even act.
There are steps you should be going through when making a decision. Let’s take a look at those now.
Do you automatically have all the answers? Probably not. Some of your beliefs might be biased, faulty, or illogical. Accepting you might have things to learn is the first and most crucial step to making decisions. Take a step back from everything but the raw facts regarding what you’re trying to decide and lay them all out before the Lord.
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. — James 1:5 (ESV)
God is in the wisdom business. Ask Him to give you an open mind, a compassionate heart, and the discernment necessary to make the right decisions.
2. Get the Facts
Do you have all the information you need to make an informed decision? Are there things you need to learn? What about examining the options? Have you considered multiple solutions? Take time to put the work in to gather what you need to proceed with confidence.
Don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? — Luke 14:28 (NLT)
While the passage above refers to money, the principle can be applied to every aspect of the decision making process. What people do you need to complete the process? What skillsets do they need to have. Who is on board with you? Who and what will be impacted by your decision?
3. Consider the Future
Once you have some choices in mind, try to imagine how they’re going to play out. Sometimes what looks good might be a great temporary solution, but you’re going to need to do something different in the long run. If you make a certain decision right now, ask yourself if this will still be a good decision in the morning? What about next week? Or next year?
4. Get Another Opinion
Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety. — Proverbs 11:14 (ESV)
Do you have another minister, a mentor or someone else you can trust whom you could talk to about this? While you might skip this step on the small stuff, it’s worth having someone you trust weigh in with their opinion whenever you make a big decision. They might see something you’re missing. You are not looking for someone you know will agree with you, but someone who has been proven to be wise and will be honest with you.
Sometimes the hardest part of making decisions lies in making the actual decision. It’s tempting to go back over the research a few more times or keep looking for other alternatives. At some point, you’re going to need to act. Take your best solution and move forward with it with confidence. You’ve done all the work. Now comes the part where you put this newfound trust in yourself into action. Of course, before you act, return to step #1 and pray, pray, and pray some more!
The best part? The more you run through this process, the more confident you’ll feel about making decisions in the first place and the better you will get at it.
The Pastor’s Helper