By Scott Patty
I’m not normally a confident decision-maker. Being faced with a challenging decision that has no clear, certain path can put my already-anxious mind in the red zone.
And yet, decisions are a part of my everyday life and my role as a pastor and leader of a congregation. The Lord has a way of putting us in places that require faith and promote growth. Major decision-making has been such a place for me over the years.
Because of the COVID-19 public health crisis, many church leaders have been confronted over the past few days with the decision of whether or not to cancel in-person worship services and church activities. And if you haven’t yet crossed that bridge, you likely will soon.
As you pray for wisdom and wrestle with these weighty decisions, here’s what I’ve learned about making decisions in my life and regarding the congregation I lead.
1. God will not orchestrate events in my life that don’t require faith.
I cannot avoid making hard decisions if I want to grow in faith. I must accept that God is calling me to maturity through the process of decision-making.
2. I must seek God, his glory, and the good of others in order to make a good decision.
My motive really does matter. This means I must pray.
At the beginning of any decision, I need to stop, bow, and be honest with myself about what’s driving me at that moment. Is it fear or pride? Am I trying to escape a responsibility or a hard task? Am I angry?
These and other questions need to be asked and answered with confession and repentance before I can proceed with the clarity needed to make a good decision for the glory of God and for the good of others.
3. I must listen and learn from others.
Trusting the Lord doesn’t mean ignoring others. Most, if not all, of the major decisions I’ve made in my life and in my leadership have included wise counsel from smart people.
An independent spirit is closed off from others and can be more concerned about making a point than making a good decision. An open ear and mind can be a blessing, leading to new ways of thinking and better decision making.
4. I must have my mind shaped by God’s word.
Knowing the Bible and interpreting it correctly helps me know which decisions are a matter of direct obedience to God or a matter of wisdom in a situation with multiple good options.
Understanding the truth of God’s Word helps me spot and avoid opportunities to make bad decisions that will bring harm.
5. I must make easy and hard decisions.
If I make a decision that brings challenges and difficulties, I can always reconsider it and possibly make another one. If I can’t, and I must live with the challenges that come with a decision, God will give me grace to do so.
I can trust that God will cause all things to work together for good, because I love Him and He has called me for His purposes.
We accept our God-given calling to be decision-makers. We’re praying, checking our motives, and seeking God’s glory and the good of others.
We listen to the medical community, our government officials, and our church staff as they advise us concerning the health and logistical issues related to gatherings and the spread of the coronavirus.
As for me and the leadership at the church I pastor, we’re confident that our decision to forego gathering this past Sunday to proactively care for the physically vulnerable doesn’t violate the Bible’s general command to gather for worship.
But this is today’s decision. There will be other decisions each day and each week. God will give us wisdom. In His wisdom, He will use our decisions for His purposes and glory. We can trust Him.
SCOTT PATTY is the pastor of Grace Community Church in Brentwood, Tennessee. He’s the author of Words of Grace: A 100-Day Devotional.