by Mike Chase
June 27, 2013
5 min read
I can be really indecisive. I mean really indecisive. Don’t get me wrong, lots of decisions are no brainers. Would you like bacon on that? Yes. Would you like your mint chocolate chip ice cream in a sugar cone? Yes. Would you like your A&W root beer in a frosted mug? Obviously? But it’s not those kinds of decisions I’m talking about. It’s the kinds of decisions where both options are equally good. Like standing in the line up at Meat & Bread and being forced to decide between the porchetta and the braised Greek lamb with lemon roasted potatoes and tzatziki. Hmm. And if those kinds of decisions are hard, what do we do when faced with decisions that actually matter. Decisions that could have a major impact on the course of our life: should I marry him/her? Should I take that new job? What should I study? What should I do for work? Obviously in some of these cases one answer is clearly the right one, but not always. Sometimes saying “yes” to one thing means saying “no” to something equally good.
How do we decide?
Perhaps more than any other decision Carrie and I have had to make, deciding what I should do after Regent has been one of those decisions. If someone had told me three years ago that Carrie and I would be staying in Vancouver to work for a new Anglican church plant, I would never have believed them. It was never my intention to come out of school and work for a church plant. It was never even our intention to stay in Vancouver after I graduated from Regent. But somehow, here we are. Although we rarely said it out loud, we both thought we would end up back in Alberta. Since we grew up on the prairies and both of our families are still there, it seemed like the perfect place to raise a family. Maybe buy a house. Have a nice little backyard. Have our parents baby sit our kids. We had it all worked out.
However, despite our secret plans to return to Edmonton, things didn’t work out for me to get a job in Edmonton. In the end, we had to decide between two totally unexpected and amazing opportunities. The first one came about one Sunday after the St. John’s Vancouver evening service, when a mutual friend introduced Carrie and I to Alastair and Julia. Soon afterwards the four of us got together for dinner and he proposed the idea of us staying in Vancouver and me working with him at St. Peter’s doing music, preaching and pastoral care. To be honest, it seemed like a perfect fit. Almost too good to be true. Right around the same time however, my pastor from Edmonton told me that a good friend of his, a pastor at a large Anglican church in Toronto, might also have a job opening. I got in touch with him and this job also seemed like an incredible opportunity.
For the next few months Carrie and I agonized over the decision of what to do, because it meant deciding between two different, but equally great options. In the end our decision came down to two simple questions that our pastor in Edmonton told us we needed to consider: Will it grow the kingdom? And, Is it wise? In our case the first question was a draw. Whether we moved to Toronto or stayed in Vancouver, we had faith that God would use us in the way that He saw fit. So that moved us on to the second question: Is it wise? Although this question can be answered from all sorts of angles, it’s fundamentally a practical question. At this time in our lives, would it be wise to pack up and move across the country and start from scratch? In the end we decided that it wasn’t wise. Carrie would have been entering her third trimester and even the thought of trying to find a new doctor, figure out the hospitals, try to find an apartment, find friends and everything else that goes with moving to a new city, we didn’t think we could handle it. On the other hand, staying in Vancouver meant being close to all of our other friends who are having babies this year, a support network we knew would prove invaluable.
What I like most about these two simple questions is that they demythologize decision-making. One question that often comes up in Christian decision making is whether or not something is God’s will. While the desire that’s behind the question is good, it can easily degrade into an almost pagan attempt to uncover some secret code, that if deciphered correctly, will tell you exactly what you need to do in every situation. That’s not how it works. We can seek answers in the Bible, but the Bible doesn’t have the answer to every one of our dilemmas either. To begin instead with the question “Will it grow the kingdom of God?” is to put first things first. As Christians our primary desire is always to glorify Christ and make him known. This question helps us determine if that’s is what we’re really focused on. This question comes first because it’s the guiding question of our lives. However, it must be followed quickly by “Is it wise?” God has given us intellects and common sense and a community around us to help us discern if this is the right decision for this time in our lives. Yes, this decision might grow the kingdom of God, but it mustn’t come at the expense of our spouse or children. Once we’ve been faithful in answering both of these question, then all that is left for us to do is to continue to pray: “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Your name. You kingdom come your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”