stopIn looking at making healthy decisions, I’ve put having you and your spouse on the same page before making major life decisions (and never pressuring each other) at the top of the list (after seeking God of course).

Rule number 2 would be to have a group of friends that you trust to the point where if they disagree with your decision you stop. Perhaps there are times where everyone is against you and you need to do what you need to do regardless. But I don’t think that is how the vast majority of our lives works.

For nearly every major decision you make in life, having a group of trusted friends whom you will listen to, and can tell you, “This is a really bad idea,” will make life so much better.

There was a movement in church circles for a while that took this to a crazy extreme. Major decisions (and even a lot of minor ones) needed to be run by the leaders of the church, or a specific person you were accountable to. We had a number of people come to our church in Ithaca who’d been part of that, and they often had very confused views on authority, discipleship, and leadership. Their responses to being in that environment could range from, “Nobody tells me what to do,” to telling me at random times, “Bob, we are submitted to your authority.” Both were icky and made me cringe.

That is not what I’m talking about here.

At the Ithaca Vineyard, one of our core values was “living life together.” For me, a large part of that meant that if we were going to be disciples of Jesus…and be emotionally healthy, we would invite trusted friends into our lives.

Over time, those people would have the opportunity to speak truth to you whether you wanted to hear it or not. (I’m probably over clarifying this, but that doesn’t mean you need to listen to every person who believes they can tell you want to do. You’ll come across people who think they deserve this role…you pick people you trust and close the door on the rest.)

I cannot imagine making major decisions in life, without having a small group of people be part of that discussion.

  • I’m thinking of moving.
  • I’m thinking of buying a house.
  • I’m thinking of changing careers/jobs.
  • I’m thinking of getting married/divorced.

I’m not an expert in any of those. I like everyone else, walk around with my share of blind spots. How could I think I could make them without having people I trust give their thoughts?

If you’ve decided that the only input you need is your own…your likelihood of success goes down drastically (doesn’t Proverbs say something about seeking counsel before going into battle? Same principle applies to any major decision you make). The more wisdom you bring to a decision, the better your chances of success.

Often the reason we don’t want people in those roles is that, “I won’t get to do what I want to do.” (not any of us of course) I’m guessing however that there are more than a couple decisions in your life where you wish you would have listened as it could have saved you some trouble down the road.

One topic I enjoy reading about it Behavioural Economics/Management Theory (Daniel Pink, Dan Ariely, Freakonomics – Dubner and Levitt, etc). In no way am I an expert, but I love learning about why people do what we do.

There is a lot written for example, about how we make decisions. And a key premise is that we make decisions based on emotion, and then justify those decisions with logic.

For example, I am at the car dealer and see this car that draws my attention. I take it for a test drive, and love how it feels. There is a lot of emotion in that decision. However, when I’m telling you about the car, I’m going to be citing the safety ratings, miles per gallon, trade-in value….you get the idea. I made an emotional decision, now I justify it with logic.

I’m not saying we need to learn how to divorce our emotions from our decision making…I don’t know if we even can (I don’t really think we should). What we can do however is invite others who are not emotionally invested in the decision (at least to the same level), and get their input.

Whether it is watching someone;

  • make a bad financial decision because “I really want that,”
  • make leadership decision based on their own fear and insecurity,
  • or make a relationship decision based on “they are so hot.”

…it is always painful because you know they could have saved themselves a lot of trouble if they had wise people in their lives who could advise them.

If I ask 5 people who know cars, what they think, and they all tell me “no, don’t do it!” and I still go ahead and do it. What would you think of me?

Would you think better of me, if I cut out the step where I asked trusted friends and just did what I wanted? Probably. But would I be any better off?

When the idea of moving from Ithaca to Ireland first came up, once Liz and I were on the same page, there were two other groups of people that we needed on board. Our kids, & the guys on our church council.t

In talking to our church council, I explained what Liz and I were sensing from God, and asked them to pray about whether we should move. Now, since I was a friend as well as the pastor of their church, they also would have had some emotional investment in this decision. But I trusted them to seek God, and make the right decision.

In fact I told them, if you guys seek God, and sense we are not supposed to go, we won’t. However, if you hear the same thing we are…what choice do we have.

One the one hand it is a scary place to be. Our future was in the hands of three other people. But living life together was never simply a slogan for Liz and me…And while it might seem scary on the one hand, I believe there is an incredible security to having a group of people in your life, that you trust who will do that for you.

It is something Liz & I have sought to create wherever we’ve gone. Thanks to each of you who’ve been part of that over the years!

Do you have a group of people who you’d let have a veto stamp in certain areas of your life?