Better Decisions, pt. 2 of 4

I started thinking about making decisions.  Part of this thought hangs over from my interview with the Alvarados.  Part of this is about some of the things I’m mulling over and embracing as I continue to think hard about telling people what to do at NC3.  Uh, that’s a joke. 

Anyway.  The second piece to my four-piece puzzle, which when done will form a beautiful set of better decisions is…

Consider your steps

Think about your options, what you’ll do and how your actions impact the closest people related to your decision. 

First, think about what you will do.  I am not a quick decision-maker in general.  I’m the type who sits with things, turns them over, looks and looks again.  But I make a handful of decisions spontaneously.  In order to make those choices quickly, those I need to make, I spend a lot of time developing my mental muscles.  One of my mentors said to me once that he studies to be ready and not to get ready.  He works in a way that makes teaching, preaching, or choosing easier because of the person he’s become.  He considers things in order to stay ready for whatever.   

In seminary students are presented with case studies.  In counseling programs students clock clinical hours and are supervised.  Chaplains take rigorous notes, discuss verbatim what was said in exchanges with patients.  All of those moments and interchanges enable a person to store up decisions which form him or her as a decision-maker.  When things come up, you are formed enough by previous experience to choose.  You’ve considered things enough until choosing well becomes your first option.

Next, say this to yourself, “If I do this, then it will do that to such and such.”  That fill-in-the-blank exercise may just make the decision for you.  This is an exercise in seeing others as valuable and as related what you do.  This may be discipline, seeing your life as connected to others, but it’s a good one.  What you do matters to people. 

If you moved to another city, what would it mean to your friendships?  If you added a second job to your load, how would you daughter respond after three months?  If you sent the email as you wrote it–instead of writing it and then deleting it–what would result in your relationship to the recipient?  Perhaps the answers to those questions, the results, is, in fact, the answer.

What do you think?


3 thoughts on “Better Decisions, pt. 2 of 4

  1. I’m loving (and being seriously challenged by) this series of posts, Pastor Michael. While I value relationship and turn to people who know me well when I’m making a decision, I don’t do a good job of recognizing the impact my decisions may have on others. I’m not sure whether that’s a construct of my individualistic culture and generation, or simply a level of perceptiveness that I’m still developing. I have a feeling it’s both. Either way, these are areas where I want to keep growing.

    • And I hope you do keep growing, Laura. I think of empathy as a muscle, one that flattens or bulges the more we feed it, exercise it, and train it. It takes work to see our decisions as impacting events on others. We’re not taught much about being unselfish.

  2. I don’t think of it (or, at least, I *hadn’t* thought of it) in terms of selfishness. I understand that my actions impact others on a micro level. It’s the more big-picture, conceptual decisions that I’m still understanding, especially as a single person. For example, when I moved from Logan Square to E. Garfield Park, a friend who I rarely see and who doesn’t live all that close to me but who is deeply involved in the Logan/Humboldt Park community was upset. She was surprised that I wouldn’t have shared with her that I was moving. Was it selfish of me to move without telling her or consulting her first? I don’t think of it that way. It surprised me that she was so affected by it. It won’t change our individual friendship much, if at all. But she comes at things from a much more community-focused perspective than I do, for many reasons. So it was a great learning experience for me to stop and contemplate how it matters — to the community that I left as well as the community I joined — that I chose to make this change. That’s where I think so many of us in our individualistic culture need to grow — to believe that what we do and how we live matters to more than just those who know us personally.

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