There are some decisions we consider life altering, although if we were to get picky we could argue that every decision is life altering to some degree. Let’s stick to the bigger ones today. You have your socially conventional decisions like: Choosing your college degree, finding a suitable partner, following a career path, and having kids. Then, you have your not so conventional decisions like: Starting a business, picking a new workout plan, or in my case, move your family across the country to start a church in a region where churches are closing at a startling rate! Ta-da! (spirit fingers anyone?)
When we begin developing a plan of action for our goals and dreams, timing becomes a major variable in the equation. Every opportunity has a window of time to seize. It is easy to assume certain things will naturally happen in their time, but sometimes they don’t, and when they require extra effort, many of these decisions are halted between desire and action. You want it. You’ve given enough thought to it, but the timing doesn’t seem right because you either don’t have all your ducks in a row, or the risk seems too great.
When we considered leaving Houston, Texas, to start a church in Stamford, Connecticut, there were many questions to ask ourselves. I’m naturally analytical and tend to play out all the variables in my head for most decisions. This one was the biggest one concerning our future, because it affected everything. We have made life-long friends in Texas. Lakewood Church was our home for 10 years. Our roots were deep. This move was more than a ministry move, because Lakewood was never just a job to us. We were faced with a decision that would reroute our future and our daughter’s future, from where she’ll go to school to whom she’ll marry (40 years from now… I’m kidding… kind of).
• How did we know it was the right decision?
Here are some of the practical things we did:
– We prayed: If you are at a crossroads, or you know you will soon have to make some tough decisions, you must be able to meet those moments from a strong position of conviction. Our primary goal in our decision making process is to always follow Jesus’ lead.
– We sought wise counsel: It is extremely important to have people in your life that can call the nonsense right out of you. This is not a role for a ‘yes-man’, someone that will always agree and encourage you with no regard for your future. This requires someone mature, with high leadership qualities, and freed from personal agendas. We made sure we sought people we trusted, that could disagree with us, that were successful in making tough decisions, and we invited them to be part of our journey, giving them freedom to speak into it.
– We tested our own spirit: We did this by asking simple questions like: What is the motivation? What is the end goal? Why are we attracted to this idea? What is the vision?
We then took each answer and tested against scriptures like Philippians 4:8: Is the answer true? Is it honorable? Is it just? Is it pure? Is it lovely? Is it commendable? Is there excellence in it? Is it worthy of praise?
• How about timing?
– We tested our abilities: This is very specific to your gifting, but very necessary to determine if you can go the distance. In our case, blind confidence wasn’t going to help us. So after going through an intensive church planting training, we joined a group of pastors and spent 2 days being vetted by an independent organization that had no prior relationship with us. They spent over an hour asking us questions about our marriage. We allowed them to do a thorough review of our financial history, and we led a full service in a room full of pastors. Hosting, preaching, altar call, and offering. You need to discover how this approach applies to you, but make sure you can have people better than you recognize and confirm what you believe to be true about yourself. This will help you determine if you are ready for the challenge.
– We looked for “open doors”: Dr. Paul Osteen once said: “When in doubt, follow favor”. There were specific things we knew we needed before making this move, and we weren’t sure how they were going to happen. We shared the vision and strategy God placed in our hearts with passion and waited for doors to open. To keep our intentions pure, we didn’t devise a scheme to get them. We didn’t engineer any opportunity. We did what was within our reach, and applied our efforts to walk through open doors without manipulation or coercion. We were also mindful that our part included fulfilling the desires of our supervisors, and allowing them to have ample time to make the transition so the organization could continue to move without suffering any loss.
When all of the above came together, it was evident the thing that was beating so strongly in our hearts – our deep desire to impact Stamford – was something God wanted to do through us.
Whatever decisions you may be facing, know that wisdom is readily available, and know that God will sustain what He has birthed.
“Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant. If they watch every cloud, they never harvest.” – Ecclesiastes 11:4
“If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.” – James 1:5