Have you ever considered that some of the most important decisions of your life will be made before you turn 20 years old?
Think about it- many of the really important decisions regarding education, employment, relationships and others are often “locked in” during your teenage years. The importance of making good decisions becomes even more critical when you consider that a 16-year-old person who makes a wrong choice might have to live with the results of that choice for the next 50 years. That’s not always a comforting thought.
What if you are facing a difficult decision right now? What’s the best way to decide between the alternatives? What can you do now to help make sure that you are making the best decision possible? Well, The Doctor has a few suggestions that might help you find your way through the decision making process.
The first suggestion is so basic that you might be surprised at how many people miss it….
1) Make the determination right now that you want God’s will first in your life.
Before anything else, you must first buy into the fact that God knows what’s best for you and that He has your best interests in mind at all times. Remember that God will always direct you in the way that’s best for you- if you put Him first (see Matthew 6:33). Even if the circumstances appear otherwise, God is able to make all things work together for your ultimate benefit. But hey, don’t take The Doctor’s word for it- just read the little six-chapter book of Ephesians (especially chapter 1 verses 7-9) where the Apostle Paul will be happy to explain it to you in greater detail.
The second item is just as basic as the first…
Jesus Himself provides the best example for us to follow here. When you read through the Gospels, you’ll find that Jesus spent an awful lot of time in prayer. For example…
- Jesus once spent the entire night in prayer before choosing His 12 disciples (Luke 6:12-13).
- Jesus prayed at the garden of Gethsemane just prior to his death (Mark 14:32-36).
- He prayed before resurrecting a dead man (John 11:40-41).
- He prayed before feeding 5000 with 5 pieces of bread & 2 fish (Mark 6:41-44)
- Luke 5:16 says that Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness to spend time in prayer.
Prayer (or close, personal communication with God) was an important part of Jesus’ everyday life. A healthy prayer life will deepen your relationship with God and give you the important side benefit of access to His wisdom. Check out the words of James 1:5…
“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him” (NIV).
Psalms 32:8 says, “I will instruct you (says the Lord) and guide you along the best pathway for your life; I will advise you and watch your progress…” That’s a pretty good reason to pray, don’t you think? Now at this point some of you might be saying, “How exactly does God answer prayer and how will He direct me?” Well, while there are a number of possible answers to this question, there is one sure-fire, 100% accurate way to hear from God that works every time. This brings us to our third point, namely…
3) Read your Bible
The Doctor continues to be amazed by the number of Christians who own Bibles but don’t read them. For eaxample, one study found that only 35% of young adults aged 18-26 read part of a Bible over the course of the previous month.* This is really unfortunate. You see, the Bible was written by people who were inspired by the Spirit of God to write the Word of God as we’re told in 2 Timothy 3:16. When you open up your Bible, you have the opportunity to hear directly from God- every time!
Did you know that by reading just 4 chapters a day, 6 days a week, you could read through the entire Bible in less than one year? This amount of reading often adds up to just 15 minutes (or less) per day. Think about the tremendous things you could learn by reading God worked in the lives of important Biblical characters such as Peter, Mary, Job, Paul, Esther, Moses and so many others. Think of the advantages of seeing the way God that worked in the lives of these men and women. Remember, the Bible says that these things were specifically written to teach us (Romans 15:4). They were written for your benefit so that you can follow the good examples of these men and women and also avoid their mistakes!
The final suggestion is this…
4) Get Godly counsel
Find a solid man or woman of God whom you trust and get their insight into your situation. Such a person might be a Pastor, Youth Pastor, parent, or a trusted Christian friend. Remember, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed” (Proverbs 15:22 NIV). One thing though- you should be sure to choose your advisors very carefully. Watch out for gossips and make sure that the counsel that you are getting is God-honoring and Biblical.
The importance of this is illustrated by the experience of a man named Rehoboam who was the son of King Solomon in the Old Testament. After Rehoboam had become the king, the Bible tells us that he decided to listen to the unwise advice of the guys that he grew up with rather than the smart advice of the men who had earlier advised his father (see 1 Kings 12 for the whole story).
Unfortunately, this foolish decision caused all kinds of problems and eventually caused the nation of Israel to split up. Now this may be an extreme example but you get the point- it’s important to be wise about who you get your advice from!
So there you have it. While The Doctor cannot guarantee that you won’t ever make any bad decisions, he does know that if you put God first, pray, read your Bible and get Godly counsel, your chances of success will be a whole lot better.
* Barna Research Report 1992-93