The fear of big decisions is a common experience among young people (as well as people in general) today. If you look back a year or two, you will probably find that you had to make a big decision, whether it was about school, relationships, work, family, or church/ministry. Think back on what this was like. It’s true that some decisions are easier to make than others. But if you remember a time when you had anything from some small hesitation to gripping fear about your decision and its potential consequences in your life, it reveals to us our hearts and motivations.
In God’s love, he gave us the example of David (among others) to show us how to deal with our fear of big decisions. David was a man after God’s heart not because he had special abilities, special favour or special training. He knew God and allowed that knowledge to anchor his life and his decisions. Here are 3 reasons why we fear big decisions, and for each we see lessons we can learn from David about why the reasons are overcome by God and who He is to us.
We fear big decisions because we don’t want to be wrong
We are afraid of big decisions because of how the consequences of our ‘wrong’ decision will make us look in front of others. We are afraid of the discomfort of pity from others. This reveals pride and over-reliance on self. In doing this, we assume that the determinants of the consequences of our decisions are within our control.
David acknowledges that life as a Christian does not mean every decision you make and everything that happens to you will be beneficial to you in a worldly sense, but we know that despite this, the Lord knows and sustains us through any uncomfortable worldly circumstance. In Psalm 37:23-24 David tells us that ‘The steps of a man are established by the LORD, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the LORD upholds his hand.’
We fear big decisions because we don’t trust God’s will for our lives
We don’t want to say ‘yes’ (or ‘no’) to a decision because it would deprive us of our creature comforts. We ask ourselves whether we can really trust God to work out what we think is a good outcome. We are afraid about how the consequences will affect our comfortable life in this world. Similar to the point above, we rely on what we can see about the future rather than what the all-seeing God knows about the future.
David understood that God is the one acting, not him -- "Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act." (Psalm 37:5)
Because God knows the future and sustains us, we know that our suffering (in whichever form) as a result of a big decision are only temporary. Our identity and eternal destiny will not be changed. He writes with confidence in Psalm 16:8, "I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken."
We fear big decisions because we fear change
The Christian life calls for growth as we deepen our understanding and relationship with Christ, becoming more and more like Him. To fear change is to stunt growth. Change helps with faith-building when we see that the world around us changes, but God does not. Change helps us to look into the unknown and see that God is already there.
David understood that fear of the future is defeated by faith. In Psalm 56:3-4, he says, "When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?" Notice also in Psalm 25:12 how David’s words do not emphasise how to make a decision. They do speak of who to trust when making a decision -- "Who is the man who fears the LORD? Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose."
This post isn’t an instruction manual on ‘how to make Godly decisions’. It isn’t supposed to shame you and make you feel bad that you fear making big decisions. We all do. However, this post is saying that who God is is bigger than any fear. I have learned, through packing up my life and moving countries 3 years ago at age 25, that it is not about whether the decision was a ‘right’ one or a ‘wrong’ one. It is about how we trust God and commit first to Him as the One in control of our lives, then make a decision in full confidence that He is in control and will walk with us. And when God proves exactly that, reminding our feeble hearts of who He is, our faith grows, diminishing the fear of our next big decision. God provides us with a way to stand firm in this changing world full of uncertainty—to trust in Him and walk with Him.
Written by Andrea Lim, who is trained as a doctor, and has experienced God's grace through many big and small decisions in life.