4 Keys to Making Better Choices, Every Day

Contributing Writer
4 Keys to Making Better Choices, Every Day

I am a big fan of cooking competition shows where talented chefs go head-to-head trying to create masterful dishes while the clock is ticking. While watching one of my favorite competitions recently, I noticed one of the more popular chefs, who always competes, was not present. Curious to find out why, I went to the source we all go to when looking for information – Google. In doing this, I discovered this chef was facing some legal issues which is why they were not present. The issues were based on choices that were made by this person. As I read the stories, I thought about choices and, more importantly, how do we make better ones? 

There is a famous quote by Albert Camus that says “life is a sum of all your choices.” The Bible says it another way, “a man reaps what he sows” (Gal. 6:7). In either case, there is a cause and effect that happens in our lives based on the choices we make. What this simply means is we must learn how to make better choices, because the outcomes we experience are a product of the choices we make.

4 Keys to Making Better Choices

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1. Ask God for Help

Praying in thankfulness

Since your choices matter, then before you make them, why not start with asking God to help you make better ones? He is not only able to do it, but he is willing to do it. Consider these two verses.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight”

(Proverbs 3:5-6).

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (James 1:5).

God understands the power of the decisions and choices we make, and he wants us to make good ones. That’s why he is willing to help us in making them. The question is, are you willing to ask for his help?

When I was younger, I believed I only needed to ask God about the bigger choices because I could handle the little ones on my own. How foolish I was – especially when you consider the little choices add up to bigger consequences over time. As I have gotten older (and hopefully wiser), I now realize God is interested and cares about every choice we make. If you want to make better choices, then he must be an integral part of the process. 

Practical application - All choices are not equal, and some choices will need to be made in a moment. For immediate choices, incorporate brief prayers that invite God into the process. That prayer could be as simple as “God help me right now to make the right choice.” For choices you have more time with or that have potentially bigger consequences, then you may need to spend more time in prayer.

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2. Get Counsel from Others

Friends laughing while they walk the beach

“Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety” (Proverbs 11:14, ESV).

The beauty of our Christian walk is that God did not intend for us to walk in isolation. One of the first things God said about man was that it is not good for us to be alone. This can be especially true when you are making your choices. God surrounds us with people who have experience, and hopefully wisdom, to provide insight and clarity as you make decisions. Your job is to take advantage of the wisdom around you.

There is an expression that says it is better to ask for forgiveness than permission. However, the opposite is true, and this reminds you to be cautious in your decision making before you make the mess, rather than having to spend time cleaning it up after you make a terrible choice. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from those around you. This is a sign of strength and not weakness.

Practical application - Make sure you have trustworthy people in your life who will give you sound, objective advice and who are not afraid to tell you when your thinking is off or crazy. If the only thing people around you do is tell you how wonderful your ideas are, then you have surrounded yourself with the wrong people.

3. Think about the Outcome before You Make the Choice

“Wise people think before they act; fools don’t — and even brag about their foolishness” (Proverbs 13:16, NLT).

If there is one thing that has the potential to change the choices we make, I believe it is thinking about how much this decision will cost. What if before every decision you just asked the simple question, what happens if I do this? Would that at least cause you to rethink what you are about to do? So many of the poor decisions I have ever made in my life happened because I didn’t think about the potential outcomes and failed to ask myself this question. I encourage you, don’t be like me.

Practical application - It is okay to take a moment and think before you decide. Also, never fall victim to those who say they need a decision right now. If you haven’t thought through the outcome, then don’t make the decision.

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4. Avoid Making Choices Based on Emotion Alone

Blocks with colors and faces on them, gauging emotions

When your emotions are high, that increases the chances of you making a poor choice. When you become emotional, you often disconnect from the logic and reason required to make a wise choice. The challenge is that our emotions move us towards making the decision in the first place. This means we must balance our emotions with our logic to ensure we are making a quality decision. Here is how psychologist Moshe Ratson put it:

“Emotions, especially at a high intensity, impact our ability to make rational decisions. Strong emotions can impair our judgment and make it challenging to think objectively and critically. This is why it is important to temper our emotions to be balanced and proportional to the situation.”

In the Bible, Jesus worded it another way.

“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?” (Luke 14:28).

Building the tower can be akin to making an emotional decision. Sitting down and counting how much it is going to cost is where you connect the decision to logic and reason.

Let me add one more point to this. When you are tempted to sin, it is often an appeal to your emotional and fleshly impulses. Temptation attempts to bypass your logic to get you to respond in your flesh. Galatians reminds us of what the acts of the flesh are.

“The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like” (Galatians 5:19-21).

When you look at those, our emotions trigger many of these fleshly actions, and they are not the product of sound reasoning. While emotions are good and necessary, be careful because if they become the foundation for the choices you make, they can deceive you and lead you into sin or bad decisions.

Practical application - Be careful of emotional decision making because it will cause you to miss the warning signs that scream, this may not be a good idea. Whenever it is possible, before you make the choice, remove yourself from the situation and take some time to wait. This will allow your logic to catch up to your emotions and hopefully lead to a better decision.

Final Thought

Making better choices does not have to be something other people do. It is something you and I can do. Since we must make choices every day, let’s focus on making better ones. So, ask God, ask others, think before you do and avoid emotional decision making, and you will be well on your way to accomplishing this. Never forget the choices we sow will eventually be the choices we reap.

Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Dilok Klaisataporn

Clarence Haynes 1200x1200Clarence L. Haynes Jr. is a speaker, Bible teacher, and co-founder of The Bible Study Club.  He is the author of The Pursuit of Purpose which will help you understand how God leads you into his will. His most recent book is The Pursuit of Victory: How To Conquer Your Greatest Challenges and Win In Your Christian Life. This book will teach you how to put the pieces together so you can live a victorious Christian life and finally become the man or woman of God that you truly desire to be. Clarence is also committed to helping 10,000 people learn how to study the Bible and has just released his first Bible study course called Bible Study Basics. To learn more about his ministry please visit clarencehaynes.com