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By John Pierce

Throughout my many years of moving among college students, I was intrigued by their approaches to decision making. I even went back to school to explore this subject.

Specifically, I sought to understand how college students make decisions at a stage in life when their choices make such a big impact on their future. A lot grew out of that exploration and I spent many weekends talking with students or student leaders about my findings — but never wrote the book that might have emerged if I hadn’t changed careers.

However, whether one is early in life’s decision-making process or living out the results of a lifetime of decisions while still making decisions, there is one perspective that might be helpful. At least it is for me.

We tend to think of decision making in terms that are too limited. Specifically, too much attention is focused on “doing” and doing certain things — such as choosing the right college major, career track and marriage partner. There is an illusion that decision making is limited to a few crucial ones that can be checked off.

But the reality is that we are constantly making decisions throughout our lives. And our approach to decision making becomes habitual — based on the ways we have made decisions in the past.

Therefore, decision making should not be seen as a fearful or dreaded checklist of things we do. In fact our biggest mistake is to focus too much on what we “do.”

Life and faith are relational, not mechanical. Being is more important than doing — and our doing flows out of our being.

Jesus spoke much more about “being” (or “becoming” certain kinds of people) than offering a long list of do’s and don’ts. So the bigger question for us should be: What kind of people are we — or are we becoming?

Jesus often pointed to the Pharisees as examples of those who did all the “right things” without being the right kind of persons. It is a relational concern — about the heart — rather than following a list of rules.

Good decisions should flow naturally out of our being — or our becoming, since the process never ends. When we become kind, generous, forgiving, gracious and loving people — then the actions we take and the choices we make are consistent with whom we have become.

It is a reminder that I share with myself on occasion — on the ongoing journey to become the kind of person out of whom good things flow. And that always needs more attention.

 

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