MAKING GOOD, WISE DECISIONS
One of the greatest responsibilities and challenges we face as men, as the leaders of our families, is making decisions. Most importantly, making Biblically informed, Biblically wise decisions about all matters in our lives and theirs.
Some decisions in our life are very big, with far-reaching temporal and eternal implications. Others are small decisions that may be inconsequential and insignificant in the grand scheme of life. There are moral decisions, relational decisions, marital decisions, financial decisions, lifestyle decisions, parenting decisions, spiritual decisions, attitude decisions, and on and on it goes. I have witnessed lives altered in terrible and tragic ways because of unbiblical, uninformed decisions that some people made. I have seen other people make rash and foolish decisions, while others made decisions not carefully thought through and became victims of the law of unintended consequences.
All of us wish we had a magic ball so to speak that would tell us the future of each decision, and how it would play out. Though we don’t have a magic ball, we do have a supernatural, all-wise, and all-knowing Heavenly Father in God Almighty. We have access to Him through prayer at all times. We have been given His divine wisdom, instructions, insights, and principles in His Word, the Bible with which we can base our decisions upon, in making divinely informed, eternally wise decisions. Life is too short and too fragile to keep making foolish, short-sighted or bad decisions.
The wisest, smartest person in the entire universe is God! Do you really want to ignore His advice?
Making good, wise decisions has been the most important aspect of my leadership in my family, my marriage and my own life.
Here are some of the guiding principles I rely on to make good, wise decisions.
1. First and foremost what does God’s Word have to say on the matter I am considering.
It is vitally important that we look to the Word of God for guidance in all matters of our lives. I can tell you looking back on the last 46 years of my life, 42 years of marriage, raising 4 kids, and all the decisions I had to make through these years, that reading, studying, pondering, and searching God’s word for wisdom, then applying that wisdom has been irreplaceable. In fact, I hope that those of you who have read my previous 136 articles begin to grasp from the insights contained in them, and the examples I share with you, just how vitally important God’s word has been to me! They are the living proof of the wisdom and insights God has given to me to lead my family!
2. I cry out to God for wisdom and have especially studied the Book of Proverbs.
Read Proverbs 1:20-33 & 2:1-11 NLT. You cannot afford to neglect these passages or ignore their direct implications to your life! It is a matter of life and death in the most critical areas of your life!
3. God will help you, but you must ask! Pray about everything, ask God for his wisdom, His help, and His guidance.
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. Read James 1:5-8 NLT
4. Get wise advice! You may not have the expertise or understanding or the full picture of a particular issue, and someone else may be able to see what you do not see, know or fully understand.
In 2000, the home we had rented was going to be sold. Kathy and I knew much about the house, having lived there for 13 years. We knew it would not be the right fit for us to buy that house. However, since I had never purchased a house before, I was not sure if we should try to rent another house or now try to buy one ourselves. I also knew I would need a sizable down payment for a home. I did not have the money to make that down payment. But I did have some money saved in a 403b plan, which, as I got wise counsel, discovered I could take a partial withdrawal for the principal down payment of a home we planned to live in. I did not know what to do. I sought the counsel of 4 very financially savvy Christian men I trusted, who all knew much about buying homes and investing. After reviewing my situation, they all agreed, take a partial withdrawal, even though you pay a penalty, and make a down payment on a house, as the housing market is going to go through the roof on home prices. I took their advice.
I also sought Kathy’s advice, on where to look, and on what kind of home to look at. I asked her if she would be willing to live in a twin home/duplex, rather than a single-family home for a couple of reasons.
First, within a few years some of our kids would be out of the house, and we would not need a ton of space. Second, I didn’t want a huge property to care for in my later years. Third, it would be cheaper to buy it than a single-family home. She agreed. Then we went to look for a possible home to buy, knowing in advance what we were looking for. Everyone said house hunting as a couple was marital hell. I did not want marital hell and tons of stress!!
After only a few drives around Eagan, we found one that we liked, based on the description of the flyer left in the real estate sign box of the property. But, it was $20,000 more than I wanted to pay. Otherwise, exactly what we were looking for. At first, I simply said, well that one is out, forget it. As a few days went by, God reminded me of the verse in Prov. that says “the evil man is stubborn, the godly man reconsiders.”
I got a little more counsel, realized the markets were simply going crazy, and also knew this was a place Kathy really liked, it had everything we needed, but in the greater scheme of things, would still allow us to live frugally, and wisely. I came home, told Kathy, you go see it by yourself, and if you like it on the inside, I will offer them exactly what they are asking for. She went, it was exactly what we needed. That was 21 years ago now. It was one of the wisest decisions I ever made, and also one of the best financially. God answered our prayers, and I cannot begin to express what a tremendous blessing to our lives, this twin home has been to us. It has also been the home we’ve lived in through the most difficult, gut-wrenching trials of our lives!
5. How will this decision affect my wife and my kids?
Men, we must learn to ask this question and ponder its implications when making significant decisions in our lives. Always, always consider the consequences of your decisions. Always!
6. Sometimes we have to make a very tough, unpopular decision!
Men, sometimes we have to make a decision that we know our wives or our kids will not like. But there are realities that we are facing that leave us no choice. Leaders have to make tough calls sometimes.
Many years ago, when Kathy and I were expecting our 3rd child, we were facing some excruciatingly difficult financial times. I was working two jobs and the home we were renting was too much for us to afford. Even working 2 jobs, we were barely making it. I began to pray and pray for God’s help, and guidance. I began to ponder the possibility of living in a trailer home. I knew this would not go over well with my wife, for several valid reasons. Out of the blue, a friend called me and said he had a trailer home he wanted to give to me. I was stunned! That is amazing. So I asked if I could see it. I went to see it. It was in the roughest trailer court in the whole city. There were weeds everywhere, a few trailers boarded up, etc. This trailer was about 540sq. feet total. The yard would take 3 minutes to mow, the windows did not open. But, they had put new carpet in it, and done the best they could to take care of it. It was extremely kind and generous of this Christian man and his wife.
I shared all this with Kathy, explained that we would only need to pay $73 a month in lot rent, versus the almost $400 a month in rent at our current place. I did my best, but I knew in my gut, no matter how she feels about this, we have to do this. This is a Godsend, even though it may not be ideal in every way. We lived there almost 3.5 years, and though we had some additional great trials there, God also did some really amazing things. We look back on that time with great fondness at the faithfulness of the Lord.
7. Plan well. Knowing your plan helps you know what decisions to make. Without a good, wise plan you will make foolish, shortsighted decisions. You have nothing to measure the merits of your choices with.
Prov. 21:5 The plans of the diligent surely lead to advantage and abundance.
This passage below has been absolutely critical to my life as a Pastor planting and leading churches, as a father and husband leading his family, and as the founder of Strong Disciple ministry.
Prov. 24:3-4 LB
Any enterprise is built by wise planning, becomes strong through common sense, and profits wonderfully by keeping abreast of the facts/realities!
As an example, listen to my parenting series, “Getting Your Family To Mars”, and see the PDF workbook. You will then begin to grasp the absolute necessity of a carefully, well thought out, written down plan.
Sitting here beside me on my desk is my black leather journal, which is dedicated solely to my Strong Disciple ministry. In May of 2018 before I launched it, I had written down a detailed plan and vision for this ministry, exactly why I was doing it, a list of exactly what needed to be done to get off the ground, who to ask for help and how I would do it. That plan I bathed in prayer and set about accomplishing each task. God blessed it incredibly, and He gets all the glory, for without him I would have had no hope whatsoever to have even started it. It is all God and his marvelous blessing. I am overwhelmed with gratitude. I also owe a debt of gratitude I can never repay to a handful of people who gave selflessly of their tremendous talents, time, skills, and resources to launch this ministry. God will eternally reward them. I will never forget them.
My greatest desire is to help each of you succeed in your lives in the greatest responsibility God has given to you as the leaders of your family. If I can ever be of service to you, please do not hesitate to write to me, or call me, for advice or counsel on any matter you may be facing. My great joy and the purpose of this ministry is to be of service to you and your families.
Helping you become a Strong Disciple,
Because of Jesus,
Pastor Mark Darling