A Fool’s Guide in Decision Making

May 22, 2024 | Written by Titus Jr Laxa

Have you ever made foolish choices?

Have you ever made decisions that felt good and right at that moment you made it, but are decisions you have later come to greatly regret? Maybe it is as simple as buying that new milk tea drink to quench your thirst, but later realizing you used your transportation allowance to do so. Now you don’t have anything to pay the Jeepney driver on your way home. Maybe it is typing out and posting weird, cursing words (in all caps), expressing your anger towards your friend who you felt have gossiped about your problem at home towards others, only to find out that you misunderstood the situation. It also could be, that when you were young, you decided not to give your best in your studies, preferring to skip classes and lying about it to your parents. Fast forward 20 years later, without a college degree, you are finding it hard to keep a stable job, with a wife and three kids relying on you to provide for them. Maybe you are thinking, had I studied hard, had I not skipped classes, had I made efforts to invest in education - things would be better now!

Making wise choices in speech and in action in this life is a difficult thing to do. With every noise around you whispering and screaming to you to obey your passions, your feelings, it is not shocking that many young adults today are struggling to make decisions wisely. As a result many are looking for wisdom on making choices that will bless them and those around them. Yet, where are they looking for such wisdom?

Some seek wisdom in decisions through online gurus. These online gurus take the form of celebrated personalities and popular influencers. Some seek wisdom through psychology-degree personalities like Jordan Peterson or financial gurus like Chinkee Tan for financial advices on budgeting and saving. On the other hand, many have come to prefer advices of popular influencers - influencers who have a wide reach due to their popularity in the social media sphere. They may not be recognized as experts in their field, but they are often looked to by many for daily wisdom. Their daily content ranging from inspirational quotable quotes, short monologues of their thoughts, with the customary inspirational background music often attract questioners and wisdom-seekers to their profiles. Though they may not be experts in their field, they are often seen as more trustworthy as they are seen as more relatable and authentic by many of the younger generation.

Though advices from these sources can be wise at times (and some of them really are, check Jordan Peterson’s 12 rules for life, really helpful for men), the issue will be on how to discern whether their advices are really wise and worth following? It won’t be the first time where advices coming from online personalities and influencers bore bad results in a follower’s life. Even family and friends who are advising us could also be mistaken. How many brothers or sisters have advised their siblings to follow their heart - leading to early pregnancy or early marital life. Yet, the most concerning thing about our present approach for wisdom-seeking is that it is mostly individualistic and stepped-based - it can be confined in one simple question: what must I do? It exposes where we think the primary force of the solution lies - in ourselves and in particular actions.

Yet as we look in Scripture, we see that the primary force of the solution to our wisdom problems does not begin with ourselves, nor does it begin with asking others for 5 steps to peace or 10 steps of overcoming heartbreaks. No, wisdom for decision making begins and is dependent upon God to give us the understanding and appropriate action for each situation we find ourselves in. This means asking God for wisdom, having a right assumption when making the request, and asking for an attitude change rather than technique.

A for Acquiring Wisdom

Our wisdom begins when we ask God.

The proverbs of Solomon repeat ad nauseum that the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge. The Apostle Paul exclaims that nothing, including knowledge, exists without Him, for all things were made by Him and for Him. James, the brother of Jesus, encourages the brethren to ask wisdom from the Father of Lights, the source of all good wisdom, for He freely gives it.

So how do we gain wisdom in our decisions in life? God’s answer in Psalm 141:3-4: Ask God for wisdom over your mouth, your heart, your deeds and your company.

Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth;
    keep watch over the door of my lips!
Do not let my heart incline to any evil,
    to busy myself with wicked deeds
in company with men who work iniquity,
    and let me not eat of their delicacies!

Psalm 141:3-4

The Assumption in Asking

The first requirement in asking God for wisdom is to have a genuine relationship with Him, with Him as God and we as His people. In the Psalm, the psalmist calls God the Lord. He also asks from Him things that assumes He has the power and ability to do those things: set a guard, do not let, and let me not. These are words often stated to people who we acknowledge have a certain authority and power. When the psalmist is acknowledging God and praying to Him in this manner, he is recognizing that this God has great authority and power over him.

Every relationship has a role or responsibility in it. If He is God, we must be His people. If He is the Creator, we must recognize as our core belief that we are His Creation. If He is our Father, then we must make sure that we really are His children! The problem is, many who call unto God don’t recognize or live as if He is their God. They call Him Master, but treat Him more as a slave. They call Him sovereign God, but trust more in the sovereignty of their feelings. They ask Him for wisdom, but when it is given through His Word, they trust more in their own opinion. God is treated like a genie who is there to serve us and give us our wish when we ask for wisdom, but not as someone who should lead us, and have a say in our choices.

The Psalmist, however, in the verse speaks with reverence towards God, expressing his dependence on Him. In the verse, he is not asking for an opinion on what his mouth should sound like. He is also not telling God his decision on what deeds he has decided to perform or who he wants to be around with. He is asking God to help him with these things, to guard him, to prevent him from falling into sin. He wants God to lead him, to lead him - this is what he asks from God.

Often when we speak to God or ask wisdom from Him, do we do so because we see Him as our God in our decision making? When we are contemplating whether to lash out in anger towards the friend who gossiped about us, and God asks you to be slow to anger, will we listen to God’s voice, or do what our feelings dictate for us at the moment? Do we see and consider Him is our God - our Master, our Wise One, our Savior from the dilemma we are in? Or do we see Him as one of the many options for wisdom seeking, in the level of our parents, online influencers, and our own opinions?

If He is really your God, ask Him as your God, not your genie, your servant, and your personalized ChatGPT.

Ask for Attitudes, not Techniques

The second requirement in asking God for wisdom is to prioritize character over technique. The psalmist asks for God to “Set a guard… over my mouth and lips.” He asks God to “…not let my heart incline to any evil,” or not to let him be busy “with wicked deeds in company with men who work iniquity.” These petitions are not asking for five steps on how to control his mouth, or ten steps on how to stop making sinful or foolish choices. These prayers are asking God to help tame the mouth, the heart, and the hands. In essence, these are genuine, heartfelt requests by the psalmist for his character formation - an asking for the right attitudes for his speech, his thoughts, and his work.

When you ask for wisdom, do you ask that God shapes your character to live out that wisdom? Or do we think that technique and wise choices can be attained without an improvement of character? Do we think that we can have wisdom to pass our college entrance exams without a hard-working character of reviewing even when the exam is still far away? Do we think we can have wisdom of choosing our relationship or life-time partner without the character of a sober-minded heart? Do we assume that we can have wisdom of getting out of our increasing debt, when our character is a borrower of money who never sees to it to pay it back?

Character matters in the wisdom of decision-making. If you are making a lot of wrong choices with painful consequences, have God check your character, and like the Psalmist, ask Him to have it changed and guarded. You can be sure, that God loves such prayers, and is willing to answer such a prayer from you.


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