Regardless of what stage of life you are at, whether you view yourself as successful or whether you think you are barely surviving, all of us have made decisions in the past we have regretted. We've spent money we wish we wouldn’t have spent. We've had partnerships we wish we hadn’t formed and relationships we should have stayed away from.
I know I have regrets. And you know what's most frustrating about the decisions I regret the most? I can look back on all of them and think, “what was I thinking? The right decision was so obvious!” Isn’t that the way it is? Hindsight is always 20/20, and that's annoying, isn't it? But, what if there was a way to confidently make decisions so that our foresight was 20/20?
The Apostle Paul taught the church in Ephesus how to do just that. He gave them incredible insight into how to efficiently make decisions. And you know what? They did. In fact they became one of the most successful churches in the first century and because of their decision making ability the church is thriving today, thousands of years later.
Listen to what Paul taught them in Ephesians 5:15-17. "Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is."
There is some incredible insight in these three verses. First of all, Paul suggests they walk like the wise. How do the wise walk? They avoid asking the wrong questions. You see, the wrong question to ask when you are facing a big decision is "What is the right thing to do?" Or, the opposite of that is just as dangerous, "Is it wrong?" The reason why these questions are dangerous is because, if you're anything like me, you can talk yourself into anything. I know I can't sell anything to anyone else, but when it comes to myself, I am the greatest salesman on the planet! When I ask myself, "What is the right thing to do?" even if at first I know it's not right, I can easily justify to myself why it's not so bad. Are you the same way? Solomon thought so. In fact, he warned us in Proverbs 28:26, "He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but he who walks wisely will be delivered." When I've trusted myself to make the right decision I've gotten myself into trouble more often than not.
Solomon said it just like Paul said it. Walk with the wise. The better question to ask is "What is the wise thing to do?" I'd recommend taking it another step further.
What if we asked these three questions when facing a big decision?
- In light of my past experiences what is the wise thing to do?
- In light of my current circumstances & responsibilities what is the wise thing to do? and,
- In light of my future hopes & dreams what is the wise thing to do?
When you ask these three questions you will immediately know the answer and will gain the 20/20 foresight you need to make the best decision. The choice then becomes whether to act on that wisdom or not.
If you would like to dig deeper into this thought, I would highly recommend Andy Stanley's book The Best Question Ever.
Questions: How much more could you regret proof your life and make your foresight 20/20 if you asked these 3 simple questions? Imagine if we taught our children to make decisions this way. How much regret could we help them avoid?