Aaron Summers

Posts Tagged ‘Decision making’

4 Dangers From the Inside

In Life and Culture on May 27, 2015 at 7:54 am

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My wife picked up an apple the other day.  It was the green kind that she likes.  She took the sticker off and washed it.  It glistened.  It was one of the prettiest pieces of fruit.  When she bit into it, though, it was a different story.  It had gone bad on the inside even though its appearance was good.  The psalmist writes,

Its walls are patrolled day and night against invaders,but the real danger is wickedness within the city.

— Psalm 55:10

The danger for the church today is not the media attacks or moral groups allegations. The danger for the church today is from within her own fellowship. We are being betrayed by our own brothers.  Those who have chosen to follow Jesus by faith are called to be different.  While this is not always an immediate change there is to be movement toward holiness.  When there is not the church is in trouble.  We see this in 4 dangerous ways.

  1. The people of the church are looking like the world.  In a desperate attempt to “fit in” and “be all things to all people” we have forgotten that we are also called to be set apart.
  2. The people of the church are acting like the world.   20 But that isn’t what you learned about Christ. 21 Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, 22 throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. 23 Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes.24 Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.  Ephesians 4
  3. The people of the church are deciding like the world.  We base most of our decisions on our finances and feelings when we are supposed to be people of faith.  Why are we ignoring God in our decisions?
  4. The people of the church are responding like the world.  Revenge is the MO of our day.  You talk about me and I will spread stuff about you.  You hurt me and I will hurt you.  Eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth mentality is inappropriate in the covenant of Jesus where forgiveness is to rule.

 

If those who follow Christ are no different from those who do not then where is the urgency to place faith in Christ?Christians have the better life.  Why are we trying to remove all appearance of it?  You have been given new life, not to squander, but the enjoy. Why would those who have been set free once again lock themselves up?

Regret-Free Living

In Decisions on December 27, 2013 at 9:17 am

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I walked out of my dorm one evening on the way to dinner when I noticed a couple of my friends sitting in the car.  I attended a Union University and had a boy’s dorm and a separate girl’s dorm.  In the middle was an outdoor commons and circle drive.  This was the spot where the girls were picked up for a date.  I knew what these two were doing.  They were trying to decide where to go eat.  Here’s how it typically went:

Where do you want to go?
I don’t care.  Where do you want to go?
I don’t care.  How about you?
Doesn’t really matter.
Not to me either.

Pause and repeat.

I went to dinner in the cafeteria, casually ate, and returned to find them still there.  I walked up to the car and knocked on the window. “Go to Pizza Inn”, I said.  He started the car and away they went.  So often we paralyze ourselves in decision-making because of fear.  We fear failure.  We fear regret. Here are some other decisions

I know way to many people who cannot make decisions.

  • Who chooses where we eat?
  • Who gets the car?
  • Who gets the girl?
  • Which way should we go?
  • Who goes first?
  • Who gets the good office?
  • Who gets the budget dollars?

These are simple decisions that don’t really matter.  However as we move up the decision-making food chain we shouldn’t rely on this hand game to choose our destiny.  Can you imagine Luke and Vader settling the Force issue this way?  What if the Hunger Games solved its problem like this? Silly?  Borderline stupid?  How are we supposed to make decisions then? Surely there is a better way to decide.  Don’t worry.  There is a better way.

There are three basic influences that shape our decisions: Facts, Feelings, and Faith.  These three are like the points of a triangle.  The answer to your dilemma/decision is found at the center where God’s peace resides.  Geometry teaches us the way to find the center of a triangle is like this picture:

FACTS

triangleFEELINGS                                                               FAITH

From each point one would draw a line to the center of the opposing line.  Where these meet is the center of the triangle.  Every decision, large and small, involves this triangle.  Our job, should we want peace and a life with no regrets, should be to find the center and choose wisely.  Here is how it would work.

FACTS – What are the facts about your decision?  What are the pro’s and con’s?  Make a T-Chart and list on the reasons to choose one way or the other.  Do your research.  Google stalk this decision.  Find out everything you can that is factual.  There are no feelings at this point.  Do not formulate any thoughts yet.  Just gather data.

FEELINGS – Does either way cause joy or pain?  How would deciding either way affect your relationships, your family, your friends?  Those who find the facts easy will find this difficult and the emotional will find the factual harder.

FAITH – Dive into scripture and discover what the Bible has to say about this decision.  I suggest to you that the wisdom of Scripture applies to all of our decisions if we will take the time to investigate.  You may not be a Bible scholar or Logos 5 owner but that doesn’t matter.  Find a biblically wise person in your church or take your pastor to lunch and pick his brain.  Pray for God to bring clarity and direction.  Pray for faith.  Pray for strength.  Pray.

The point is that we should find a balance just like in geometry to find the center of God’s Will in whatever matter you have.  If we lean too heavily on one point the choice could be skewed.  If we take only one point into consideration we are not being responsible.  If we take 2 of 3 we are not being balanced.  The answers you need, and want, can be found.  The decisions made without regret are available to those who do the work.  I don’t always make good decisions, but when I do I use the Decision Triangle.  Try it with your big decision today and in the New Year.

Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way.
Proverbs 19:2 ESV

Killer Meetings

In Leadership on August 7, 2013 at 10:16 am

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Have you ever left a meeting and wondered what just happened? Have you ever left a meeting needing to check your blood pressure? Have you ever found yourself texting, checking email, or playing Words with Friends during the meeting? Maybe you began posting rants about the meeting on Facebook or Twitter. If you are really sneaky you might have taken pics and posted them too.

I call these Killer Meetings. We get so bored or frustrated because we do not feel anything is being accomplished. We all have so much to do that we only have a certain amount of time. We don’t want our time wasted unless it was our choice. A new form of meeting that is emerging is called the Email Meeting. I appreciate what is being attempted and sometimes it works best with busy schedules. However, there is a creative confluence that happens when we get together that is missed in email. I read in Proverbs the other day that toil brings profit and talking brings poverty. Let’s apply that to the meetings we lead or attend. Here are 4 basic things to remember to move from killer meetings to killing it meetings.

1. Movement. The best way to keep a meeting moving is to have a definite finish moment. This reminds me of counseling sessions that have a timer. You have seen movies and shows that portray the couple in the middle of an emotional moment when the alarm sounds. The counselor interrupts and tells them the session is over and calendars the next session. The point is to keep the couple focused and working hard. Starting and ending on time may feel awkward but creates a respect for the time provided. Reminding people that another meeting will be scheduled if the agenda is not accomplished tends to drive home the need for focus and good flow of information and ideas.  There are times when another meeting is required and some information should not be rushed.  However, many decisions are neglected because we did not move through the discussion in an appropriate fashion.

2. Management. People have a tendency to get off task. Discussions and conversations ensue on a variety of topics. Countless meetings have gone on for hours only to leave everyone worn out and wondering what happened. Many leaders and committee heads have started printing agendas and passing them out. The problem is they are not always used. The leader must keep the group on task. One way to accomplish this is to send out the agenda before the meeting. This way everyone knows what to expect and can formulate their thoughts that aid in movement.  When the group begins to stray the leader needs to guide them back to the topic at hand.  Managing a meeting requires a focus and attention to the task at hand.  If the leader simply lets the conversation prattle on indefinitely then hours pass and no decision is made.

3. Making Decisions. I am constantly battling this issue. Often I sit through meetings where there has been grand discussion without any decisions. An agenda that does not drive toward a decision is not useful. Meetings that stay on time and are managed well but do not make decisions leaves the people tired and possibly deciding it was not worth it. I have seen groups dwindle because nothing is happening. A skilled group leader will design the agenda that demands a decision before the end. Certainly we are to discuss. However, some people like to talk about something without conclusions. These types will kill a meeting, a ministry, or any group. They can hijack the group and drive to derision and not decisions. I am not saying that rash decisions should be made with discussion and debate. Excessive talk and off-topic discussion must be squelched in order for the greater good of the group to be experienced.

4. Maintenance. When the alarm sounds, so to speak, the clean up begins. Have all the items been completed? Is another meeting needed? After the meeting the leader or secretary sends a report to the group reminding them what happened. Also, a report needs to be sent up the leadership ladder for accountability. Without this work, we all forget what happened. The decisions made at this meeting might affect other groups in the organization. If these are not shared there could be overlapping resource needs which leads to difficulties.

Adjusting from killer meetings to meetings that kill it takes courage and consistency.  This change does not happen in the first meeting of a group that has a history of babbling without anything beneficial.  Allow for some flexibility and over time your group will start killing it!

 In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty. (Proverbs 14:23 ESV)

Decisions, Decisions

In Decisions, Leadership on November 5, 2012 at 11:05 am

I know way to many people who make decisions using Rock Paper Scissors.  This is “old school” because I am choosing not to include Spock or Bomb.

  • Who chooses where we eat?
  • Who gets the car?
  • Who gets the girl?
  • Which way should we go?
  • Who goes first?
  • Who gets the good office?
  • Who gets the budget dollars?

These are simple decisions that don’t really matter.  However as we move up the decision-making food chain we shouldn’t rely on this hand game to choose our destiny.  Can you imagine Luke and Vader settling the Force issue this way?  What if the Hunger Games solved its problem like this? It seems that most decisions on Big Bang Theory are settled in this fashion!  Instead of all this electoral college and election night coverage that messes up the television recording schedule, what if the candidates simply played Rock Paper Scissors Best of 5?

Silly?  Borderline stupid?  How are we supposed to make decisions then? Our vote sets the direction of our country for the next 4-8 years and beyond depending on lasting effects.  Surely there is a better way to decide.  Don’t worry.  There is a better way.

There are three basic influences that shape our decisions: Facts, Feelings, and Faith.  These three are like the points of a triangle.  The answer to your dilemma/decision is found at the center where God’s peace resides.  Geometry teaches us the way to find the center of a triangle is like this picture:

FACTS

FEELINGS                                                                             FAITH

From each point one would draw a line to the center of the opposing line.  Where these meet is the center of the triangle.  Every decision, large and small, involves this triangle.  Our job, should we want peace and a life with no regrets, should be to find the center and choose wisely.  Here is how it would work.

FACTS – What are the facts about your decision?  What are the pro’s and con’s?  Make a T-Chart and list on the reasons to choose one way or the other.  Do your research.  Google stalk this decision.  Find out everything you can that is factual.  There are no feelings at this point.  Do not formulate any thoughts yet.  Just gather data.

FEELINGS – Does either way cause joy or pain?  How would deciding either way affect your relationships, your family, your friends?  Those who find the facts easy will find this difficult and the emotional will find the factual harder.

FAITH – Dive into scripture and discover what the Bible has to say about this decision.  I suggest to you that the wisdom of Scripture applies to all of our decisions if we will take the time to investigate.  You may not be a Bible scholar or Logos 4 owner.  Find a biblically wise person in your church or take your pastor to lunch and pick his brain.  Pray for God to bring clarity and direction.  Pray for faith.  Pray for strength.  Pray.

The point is that we should find a balance just like in geometry to find the center of God’s Will in whatever matter you have.  If we lean too heavily on one point the choice could be skewed.  If we take only one point into consideration we are not being responsible.  If we take 2 of 3 we are not being balanced.  The answers you need, and want, can be found.  The decisions made without regret are available to those who do the work.  I don’t always make good decisions, but when I do I use the Decision Triangle.  Try it with your big decision today.

4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your graciousness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6 Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

 

How To Make Good Decisions

In Decisions on April 6, 2011 at 9:27 pm

It was in the Spring of the year and love was in the air.  On my college campus there was an open area between the men’s and women’s dorms.  There was a circle drive for pick up. One evening as I was heading out for the cafeteria, there was a couple sitting in the car discussing where they were going to eat.  Each was trying to placate to the other.

“Wherever you want.”

“No. Wherever you want.”

“I don’t care. You choose.”

“I don’t care either.”

I chuckled to myself and went on to eat supper.  The line wasn’t too long and I soon enjoyed my meal with a few friends.  We laughed and discussed stupid events of the day.  I left, having homework, and began to walk back to the room.  Instead of taking the short route, I chose to go through the lobby.  To do so, I passed by the circle again.  Guess who was there?  The same couple was still sitting in the car trying to decide where to go to eat.  I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.  Out of compassion, I walked up to the car and leaned in to the window,

“Chik-fil-A.  Go there now.  Each of you pay for your dinner and enjoy the evening.”

He started the car and away they went!

Why are decisions so difficult?  We make a thousand of them everyday.  However, how much stress do we bring on our lives because of an inability to make them quickly, efficiently, and effectively?  We need to learn how to make decisions. Without the ability to properly make decisions we set ourselves up for failure.  At this point, let me be clear.  Making a decision is simple.  Making the decisions that please and honor the majesty of God takes a little more effort.  Here are a few examples:

  • Eve based her decision on how she felt about the matter.  We all know how that ended poorly!
  • Ten of the twelve spies based their negative decision on the plain facts of the situation.  Forgetting to consider God promised the land.
  • The Thessalonians were so wrapped up in Jesus’ returning that they quit working and basically quit living.  This decision was solely based on faith.  Paul chided them for it and told them work and live until Jesus returns.

The Bible relays a plethora of good and bad decisions.  Though there are many examples, there are basically three options on making decisions:

  1. Facts and Logic
  2. Feelings and Emotion
  3. Faith and Spirituality

Too often we believe we can only choose one of these as our way of making decisions.  Facts and logic are not used as much as they once were.  Pulling together the T-chart with the pros and cons sets up an emotionless moment.  Simple.  Which side has more?  There is your choice.  Over-analyzing occurs with this genre of decision-making.  The “nth” degree is so far behind you that you can’t even see it in the rear-view mirror.  Facts and logic should be a part of the process, but not the sole decision maker.  Facts are cold.  Logic has no emotion to it.  Facts alone only involve what your mind can conceive.  There is no faith.  There are no emotions.

A very common choice today involves feelings and emotions.  With personal preference and fun being a modern-day Baal and Ashteroth, feelings rule the day. How many prom night decisions are based on logic?  These decisions, sadly, are based mostly on feelings.  “If it feels good, do it” still is a common theme.  We make too many decisions based on our personal “fun-meter”.  Cooking isn’t fun, so we eat out.  Saving isn’t fun, so we put it on credit.  Serving isn’t fun, so we attend church where there is little commitment.  Parenting isn’t fun, so the children run the house.  Marriage isn’t always fun, so we  have affairs and divorce.  Aging isn’t fun, so we take a little pill or have a nip and tuck.  This option, taken alone, is dangerous.

Another, though less common, approach is the faith approach.  There is a subtle danger to using this without the influence of the others.  Some would wonder why faith alone would be a problem in making decisions.  Aren’t we to “walk by faith” and “live by the Spirit”?  If that is the case then what is the issue?  Using faith alone as a method of making decision removes all involvement of the individual.  A young man came to see me one day in need.  He had no job.  I recommended a couple of openings I knew about at the time.  His reply shocked me.  He said God was going to give him a job.  I asked if he had looked in the paper.  He gave the same reply.  I asked if he had applied anywhere.  He gave the same reply.  Faith without works is dead James said.  I have faith that God will provide.  I also know he gave me two eyes to read the classifieds, two legs to walk to a business, two hands to fill out an application, and a mouth for an interview.  Proper decision-making is not just faith, or feelings, or facts.

 

Good decision-making skills involve a balance of all three.  Finding the center of God’s will is similar to finding the center of a triangle.  From each tip you draw a line to the midpoint of the facing line.  Where all three intersect is the exact center of the triangle.  Making good decisions is similar because a balance is required.  Whatever the decision, especially the major ones, ask yourself three questions:

 

  1. What are the facts about this decision?
  2. How do I feel about this decision?
  3. Have I truly spent time communicating with God?

When I spend time and effort in these three areas, without over-emphasizing any of the three I will find peace.  In the middle of God’s triangle is peace.  When effort is balanced, then inner peace from God’s Spirit prevails and you can make the decision.  Do not misunderstand.  There will be those decisions that the facts seems to prove negative.  All three do not have to be positive to make the decision.  There needs to be time and effort involved.  The peace to make a decision comes at this moment. When the center is found peace arrives.  When peace arrives, the decision can be made without hesitation or fear.  The anxiety has ebbed away.  The outcome is irrelevant because God is in control at this point.  This process puts us in submission to Him and His Will.  There you find the peace that passes all understanding.

Making decisions does not have to be hard, it just takes a little time and effort.

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