Time Out: Seven principles for making tough decisions

Topic / Time Out

Time Out (by Jerry Schmoyer)

Black and white are distinct colors that are easy to distinguish. But not everything in life is black and white. Many times we see shades of gray, and sometimes it is very hard to decipher which option, or shade, is better than the other. Some decisions are not easy to make; the better option is not always apparent and the consequences may not always be popular. When our popularity, and even our ministry’s future are involved, decision-making becomes very confusing. Some decisions are extremely difficult. As ministers, what do we do?

1. Be certain that your mind is making the decision, and not just your emotions. Feelings can have their say, but they should not make the final choice. If they do, the choice will be a reaction, and not a pro-action. Allow your mind to explain the reality of things to your emotions.

2. Make sure fear is not controlling your thought-process. God does not give us fear, (2 Timothy 1:7; Romans 8:15) therefore, we cannot let fear influence our decisions.

3. Putting off a decision is not good either. Avoiding a decision is itself a decision. To do nothing is a decision to go with the flow, or the status quo, (no rhyme intended). Thus, no decision is really a decision.

4. Get advice from a mature and experienced person whom you trust and respect.

5. Pray about the decision. God promises wisdom; trust Him, and He will guide you.

6. When it is time, make the decision and trust that God is behind that decision. Trust Him to be with you through it all, as He Himself promises (Proverbs 3:5-6).

7. Afterward, do not keep remaking the decision in your mind, wondering if you chose correctly — that will drive a person crazy! Instead, look ahead and do not look back.

Remember, Jesus knows how tough decision-making can be. He faced a difficult one in the Garden of Gethsemane, but He looked ahead and did what He knew was right even though it was hard. Follow His example, and you will be just fine.

James 1:5-8, “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. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.”

Joshua 1:7-9, “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”


  1. What are some of the hardest decisions you have ever had to make? Why were they so hard?
  2. Why are some decisions harder for you than others?
  3. Whom can you go to for advice about a tough decision?
  4. Are you facing any really touch decisions now? What principles can you apply to help you make a wise and godly choice?


Jerry Schmoyer has been a minister in Pennsylvania for over 25 years and has worked with teenagers for 14 years, ever since I became one myself. He authors the weekly Time Out series here at Life in Student Ministry in hopes to spiritually refresh your soul as you continually pour so much of yourself into students. God bless!

Posted on March 23, 2008

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