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Bad Decisions 101

“Well I was born an original sinner I was born from original sin And if I had a dollar bill for all the things I've done There'd be a mountain of money piled up to my chin.” Eurythmics- Missionary Man

Can you relate?

I know I can -- I’ve made more than my fair share of bad decisions!

Take your pick: bad relationships, wrong job choices, unwise financial decisions, etc.

Nine times out of ten, bad decisions lead to adverse outcomes!

So, how can we avoid making them?

Easy- learn from your mistakes and don’t repeat them.

But, seriously if we took the time to contemplate our actions and motivations diligently- BEFORE we made a decision we might make a good one and avoid repeating blunders.

Here’s a handy tool to use when faced with a decision (big or small)—

P.L.A.N.S method:

Pressure: Are you being pressured? If yes, be cautious in giving into pressure, whether it is from time or people. Let me explain, time-related pressure would be something that is a "once in a lifetime" deal, promise of instant satisfaction, promise of instant relief, or a fear of missing out. You can also have pressure from people a/k/a peer pressure. Regardless of age, peer pressure can be a powerful influencer. Pay attention to who is in your orbit and what type of influence they have over your decisions. The best question to ask yourself - "If I wasn't pressured would I still make this decision?"

Leading: Where will this decision take you? Will this decision lead you closer to God or further away from Christ? If this decision will take you to a place that is not God-honoring or causes you to put your trust in something or someone other than God- it is not a good decision.

Advice: Failing to seek and heed wise counsel. When faced with making a big decision the worst thing you could do is surround yourself with immature and foolish people who only will tell you what you want to hear. Seek those that have experience, expertise or proven wisdom and maturity and ask for their honest opinion. Then prayerfully consider taking their guidance.

Naive: Do your homework by asking a ton of questions. Be prepared to keep your emotions in check and don't fall victim to the mentality of wishful thinking. Also, remember that there are two sides to every story and the easy way isn’t always the best way. When you fail to know all the facts a lousy decision is almost inevitable.

Short-Sighted: Do the long math by honestly accessing the long-term risks and benefits. If you make this decision what will your life look like in 5+ years? Take the time to analyze the possible outcomes and how this decision will impact your future. Thinking in only the short-term without investigating the long-term ramification is a great way to make a decision you will regret.

Let’s take a look at someone who didn’t use the P.L.A.N.S method and made a decision that led to his ruin- Samson.

Yes, the infamous “Samson and Delilah” duo in the Bible.

God chose Samson before his birth to be a Judge over Israel. God empowered him with super-human strength, and Samson literally became the strongest man on earth- able to kill 30 Palestine warriors with his bare hands, rip a lion’s mouth apart, and even kill thousands of soldiers in battle by using a jaw-bone from a donkey. Nothing could defeat Samson- that is until he made a bad decision. You see, Samson’s strength was provided directly by God as long as he didn’t cut his hair. Samson, dedicated to God as a Nazarite meant he was to adhere to specific religious guidelines and that included never cutting his hair.

Samson’s full story can be found in the Old Testament Book of Judges, Chapter 16 which tells us of Samson’s birth, life achievements and his ultimate ruin. For the sake of brevity, I’m going to skip right to his failure:

“Then she said to him, "How can you say, ‘I love you,' when you won't confide in me? This is the third time you have made a fool of me and haven't told me the secret of your great strength." With such nagging, she prodded him day after day until he was sick to death of it.

So he told her everything. “No razor has ever been used on my head,” he said, “because I have been a Nazirite dedicated to God from my mother’s womb. If my head were shaved, my strength would leave me, and I would become as weak as any other man.”

When Delilah saw that he had told her everything, she sent word to the rulers of the Philistines, “Come back once more; he has told me everything.” So the rulers of the Philistines returned with the silver in their hands. After putting him to sleep on her lap, she called for someone to shave off the seven braids of his hair, and so began to subdue him.And his strength left him.

Then she called, “Samson, the Philistines are upon you!”

He awoke from his sleep and thought, “I’ll go out as before and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the Lord had left him.

Then the Philistines seized him, gouged out his eyes and took him down to Gaza. Binding him with bronze shackles, they set him to grinding grain in the prison.” Judges 16: 15-21

Samson made a series of bad decisions beginning with hanging with the wrong crowd, getting involved in an unhealthy relationship and giving in to peer pressure from Delilah. He certainly didn’t follow any of the steps from the P.L.A.N.S method!

I think the saddest part of Samson’s story is that after Delilah betrayed him, he didn't even realize that the Lord had left him. In the end, Samson didn’t recognize how far his decisions had taken him from God!

At the very least, Samson’s story should teach us to surround ourselves with the right friends and influences and to stop and think about our decisions before heading down a road to regret!

Lord, thank you that you are slow to anger and filled with unfailing love. You give us innumerable chances to get things right and are quick to forgive when asked. Help us to make good decisions in the future from a place of wisdom. Our goal should always be what is pleasing in your sight, and when we choose to walk with you, we are never on the path to destruction.

"I'm not trying to win the approval of people but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ's servant." ~ Galatians 1:10

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