Making a Decision When the Answer Isn’t Clear

by | Sep 9, 2015

What do you do when there doesn’t seem to be a right answer?

I recently voted in an election concerning a contentious issue in my hometown. The “right way” to vote was clear for many – but not to me. I read the text of the proposal and pored over the websites of both sides. I did my best to evaluate the intent of each side and its alignment with a kingdom vision for my community.

After all the analysis, I could make a pretty good argument for either side. I thought I knew how I should vote, but I was not confident in the decision.

It wasn’t until after my devotional time the day of the election that I knew I made the right decision.

Now, God did not directly address the specific ballot measure, or even the general issue at hand. But he did provide the context and direction I needed in order to make the decision. 1 Thessalonians 2:4 jumped off of the page: “We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts.”

This spoke to me. I still didn’t know with 100% certainty that my assessment and decision were “right,” but what God’s word told me was that my assessment of “right” needed to be a heart assessment. Had I been seeking his will? Were my intent and motives pure? Did I have a consistent pattern of letting his word direct my life? If those things were true, then 1 Thessalonians 2:4 gave me confidence to make a decision.

Let me be clear: this post is not about politics. It’s about how to make a decision when there is not a clear right and wrong. The great majority of us spend the great majority of our time in a complicated world that is not black and white – we have to discern the right decision in a sea of gray.

This is especially true in the workplace. Moreover, God calls and expects us to play an active role in and through our work in helping our culture flourish, even and especially if our culture is far from him (Jeremiah 29:7). The more we commit to leave our Christian bubble and engage culture – which we do every single day in the marketplace – the more we will encounter the gray.

We need to learn to exercise discernment in our decision making.

So how do we do this practically in our work? I think my voting experience is instructive:

  • View your work as participating with God. He wants to purpose your work for his kingdom. Every decision – big and small – is subject to his Lordship. This is where I started with my vote – I wanted to please him. Is your heart in a position to want to make decisions that honor him?
  • Let God’s word order your day. Every day brings with it new demands, challenges, distractions and opportunities. God’s word is unchanging. Your day and decision making will either be shaped by God’s word or by all the other noise. I didn’t contrive a specific scripture to validate my voting decision. I simply engaged God’s word as I try to do regularly, and he provided the scripture that gave me what I needed. Cultivate the discipline of letting God order your day. Over time you will find that he will provide the context and direction for wise living.
  • Make your decisions, and let Christ be your confidence. You are faced with hundreds of decisions of varying degree every day at work. Whether or not you get the luxury of time and information in making a decision, you still have to make a call. If your intent is pure and you have a pattern of ordering your life by God’s word, then simply decide and let Christ be your confidence.

If we intend to fully join God in his mission in our work, then we will find ourselves navigating a lot of gray area. Embrace the opportunity, and let God’s word order your day. Then you will grow in discernment and find you’re able to more confidently and effectively make decisions when there just doesn’t seem to be a “right” answer.

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Ben Kirksey

Ben Kirksey is the Chief Operating Officer for Workmatters and Director of Workmatters Institute. He is a graduate of the University of Arkansas (2006, Economics and Political Science), and alumnus of Teach for America. He realized a passion for integrating faith and work while at Northstar Partnering Group (now Field Agent™) and subsequently co-founded the Workmatters Institute in 2010, joining Workmatters to lead the Institute full time in 2013.