I struggle to make decisions. From the trivial (what should I have for breakfast??) to the serious (what career path should I follow?!) there always seems to be too many options. And how can you know what is the right one?
Mikey Lynch works in student ministry in Hobart and he understands what its like to be at uni which is a life stage when you have to make a lot of decisions about the future. He writes to give practical tips that are grounded in good theology, and are especially relevant to university students.
Mikey Lynch points out in his book that when Christians think about decision making, there are a lot of traps we fall into because we think these make us more Christian. We use formulas like WWJD? which often just lead to us making decisions based on our own imaginations rather than what the bible actually says. Or we neglect caring for ourselves sustainably in our decision making because we think that the more sacrifices we make, the more faithful we are. Maybe we falsely elevate some options above others because we view them as more spiritual. Or we fail to recognise which decisions are really important, and which don’t matter as much in the big scheme of things.
Mikey starts off by thinking about how our view of God will affect how we juggle and decide between our different priorities- all of which are good things that we have been given by God! He also thinks about how we need to understand ourselves and our own context in order to make wise decisions. A decision may not be a good idea for now, but at another stage in our life it might be the right choice- there is no simple formula or one-size-fits-all way to make decisions. We need to consider ourselves and the people around us when we make these choices.
Another thing that we need to consider is how we think about our decisions and priorities in terms of God’s big picture plans for our lives and this creation, when we look at the bible. Mikey also spends two chapters thinking about sacrifice: this is often a tricky topic for Christians. I know people (and have struggled myself) with thinking that as a Christian, I can’t say no to good things.
Spending more time with my family? Yes. Putting extra effort into studying? Yes. Leading at youth group? Yes. Welcoming at church? Yes. Going to extra church services? Yes.
It might sound like an unrealistic scenario, but I think all of us know how it feels to be over-committed, because we feel we can't say no to good things. And Mikey points out that this isn’t necessarily a good thing. In fact, having the humility to admit that we can’t do everything is a good thing, because as he says:
We need to know our physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual limitations. Failure to pay attention to these realities can have disastrous results for our well-being, our relationships and even our faith. P.58-59
Christians are called to make sacrifices to further the gospel and love others- but we need to recognise when this is appropriate as well. And we also have a strong motivation for this, as in the bible we have a clear picture of what true joy and meaning looks like in life- and this informs our decisions. Mikey then thinks about some bible passages that help us think about how we practically live out wise decision making as Christians.
Mikey Lynch doesn’t provide a simple answer for how we should make decisions. Maybe some people will read his book and still come out feeling like they can’t see a clear path ahead of them for doing this. But making decisions is never easy, especially as a Christian because we recognise that our decisions can have eternal consequences. So any book that offers a simple answer or formula to always know the right thing to do is probably, really, too good to be true. Making good decisions that honour God is something that we will have to continue throughout our lives, so having a good framework to do this is important. Mikey Lynch’s book looks at all the things we need to remember while we’re making decisions, then gives a principle to think this through:
It is God’s will that his people be free to make a range of different godly decisions in obedience to his word. P.190-191
I also found it helpful that he points out that we don’t need to spend our whole lives obsessing over decision making, but we do need to recognise that we should allow time at different seasons in our life to think about the decisions we’re making day-to-day. It can be easy to get swept up in making decisions without reflecting on these, so reminding us to do this from time to time is a helpful thing.
If you’ve ever struggled to make a decision, or been unsure of how as a Christian you can know the right thing to do when there seem like lots of good options, this book is a great place to start to find a great framework on how to think well about this issue. If you’re graduating soon, you’ll have a lot of decisions to make this year, and this is a great book to start you off on making those big decisions!
The Good Life in the Last Days: Making choices when time is short
Mikey Lynch (2018, Matthias Media)
Matthias Media/Koorong $18.99