Making the Tough Decision When it Hurts Another Person

by | Dec 14, 2016

How good are you at tough decisions? Those times when you have clear direction, yet you know it will negatively impact others?

Those are tough moments. We often want to justify an easier way. A way that feels like it isn’t risking a relationship. Maybe we question whether we were hearing from God or not, like maybe if we prayed more He wouldn’t have us make a tough decision that leaves someone not feeling good.

But sometimes the direction God would have you take puts you in a tough position with the people you lead.

This happened to Samuel, one of the greatest prophets and the last of the judges of Israel, in his first real assignment. 1 Samuel 3:1-21 records the story:

The religious situation at the time was rough – the people were supposed to live by God’s word, but the word of the Lord was rare. Eli was the head priest, and he had two sons who used their ministry in the temple as a cover for the relentless pursuit of their own pleasure. Eli was aware but did nothing about it.

Samuel was a young boy dedicated to the Lord and working for Eli in the temple. God revealed Himself and His word directly to Samuel – audibly. At first Samuel didn’t realize it was God speaking – he kept waking Eli up – until finally Eli realized that it was God calling Samuel.

So Samuel did what Eli told him to do. When he heard God’s voice again, he said, “Here I am. Your servant is listening.”

The word God spoke to Samuel was a judgment on Eli and his family, and Samuel was afraid to tell Eli (his boss) the news. But he did, and Eli accepted God’s judgment faithfully.

This started Samuel’s rapid rise in leadership. Soon all Israel knew that God was with Samuel because God let none of Samuel’s words “fall to the ground.” He was quickly recognized as a prophet. God’s word began to come to Samuel at Shiloh and Samuel’s word came to all Israel.

It’s a powerful narrative, and four big questions jump out that we need to ask ourselves:

Do I recognize God’s voice? He is speaking through His word, and like Samuel, sometimes He clarifies His voice through wise counsel.

Do I confront the wrong things under my influence?

Will I follow God’s direction even if it’s uncomfortable or risks a relationship?

Can I accept God’s decisions and judgment?

We need to be able to say with Samuel, “Here I am. Your servant is listening.”

It is a posture of faithfulness. And we do have ears to hear through the Holy Spirit. We can trust that He will interpret, teach, counsel, and rebuke us according to His word.

We will often find ourselves in a position where we need God’s direction, and that direction might require stepping into an uncomfortable situation or even risking a relationship. We need to be leaders who seek and hear God’s voice, and who communicate His direction appropriately and confidently, regardless of whether it will disappoint the other person.

So today, let’s pray for the ears of Samuel, to hear God’s direction; the faithfulness of Samuel, to follow God’s direction; the favor of Samuel, that God’s direction would be proved right in the eyes of those we lead.


Ben Kirksey, Director of Operations, Workmatters

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Ben Kirksey

Ben Kirksey is the Chief Operating Officer for Workmatters. 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.