My Dad’s advice is still coming in handy after all these years! You likely remember similar words of advice in your life, whether it was from your father, a teacher, or even an Andy Griffith show! Even after many years, some advice continues to apply in our everyday lives.
I still remember it like it was yesterday. I was heading out on a date in high school and Dad wanted to give me some final advice. His wise words still ring in my head some 25 years later.
Son, make your decision about what you will and won’t do right now. Whether is it drugs, alcohol, or sex, you cannot wait until the heat of the moment to decide. It will then be too late.
Of course, then I was too cool to let him know that I was listening! Fortunately, I was listening and made (mostly) wise decisions during those years. I knew he was wise then, but I had no idea I would still be following (and giving!) that advice these many years later!
What makes this advice so good?
Well, in my mind it is ALL about timing. If we go through life waiting to make decisions until we face certain circumstances, then, as my Dad said, it will be too late. The emotions of the circumstances will override our logic and cause us to lean toward immediate gratification rather than deferred gratification. Making these decisions ahead of time allows us to think more clearly and to consider all consequences.
I think the picture was fairly clear in the high school example. Let me give you some examples of situations we may face as adult Christian business owners and leaders to illustrate what I am talking about.
- If you have not decided ahead of time how much money you will give or how you will give it, then what do you think you will do when the profits start rolling in or your income increases?
- If you have not decided what you will do in advance, what do you think you will do if shown a “grey area” loop hole by your financial planner that he describes as “commonly used” by others?
- If you have not made up your mind beforehand, what will your response be when offered a chance to go alone to a business lunch with a very attractive rep from one of your vendors?
- If you have never planned your response to an opportunity to tell a little white lie to cover up a mistake you made, what do you think you will say?
As you read through these examples, one or two of them probably stood out to you. You may have already faced these circumstances. If so, whether you made the right choice or not, you know what I am talking about. You also know that the likelihood of a good decision without advance planning is very low.
Applying The Advice
So how do you make the right decisions in advance?
You may be thinking that you cannot possibly be expected to anticipate EVERY potential circumstance when you would have to make such decisions. If so, you are right. I do not expect you to do that at all. In fact, that would be ridiculous.
No, I have a few simple thoughts that should put you on the right track. Take a look at these and see what you think.
1. Ask God to search your heart and show you where you are vulnerable. (Psalm 139:23-24)
It is very likely that you are stronger in some areas of your walk and weaker in others. If you will ask God to point these weaker areas out to you, He will be faithful to do so (Psalm 145:18-19). It is these areas where you need to focus your attention.
You do not need to worry about EVERY possible scenario in these areas. Take the most likely decisions you could face in each area and start with those.
2. Take these weaker areas and plan out your responses. (Proverbs 12:5)
- Take these weaker areas that God reveals to you and think about potential pitfalls. What kinds of decisions could you face that might throw you off your game? What decisions would you want to make in each area if you could write the script? Now begin doing exactly that!
Make the decisions in these areas NOW so that you do not have to try to think about it when it is too late and you are under pressure (Proverbs 1:10-19)!
3. Use Scripture as the strong foundation for these decisions. (Psalm 119:11)
- If your vulnerable decision is about giving more money even when the temptation is there to spend more on yourself, try 1 Timothy 6:17-19 or Luke 6:38. If your weakness is maintaining your integrity when preparing your taxes, then use Psalm 119:36 or Proverbs 11:3.
You get the idea. The point is to use an easy-to-remember verse from which to rally when put in a tough spot. Memorize the appropriate Scripture and call on it when challenged.
Do you remember similar advice from years back?
How does this advice apply to your work today?
What advice would you give to someone else today?