A few months ago, RFTG published a review of Demystify Decision-Making: A Practical Guide by author Aimee Joseph (Crossway, 2022). In the time since the review was published, RFTG Editor Zach Kendrick was given the opportunity to ask Aimee a few questions about the book and her thoughts on decision-making in general. What follows are the authors responses to questions submitted by the editor.
Your book Demystifying Decision-Making is essentially a biblical theology of decision making. Why did you think that a book of this nature was needed?
My husband and I have spent the better part of the last two decades doing college ministry. After having the same conversation with students about “finding God’s will” nearly weekly, I realized that there was a great need for an accessible and practical yet theologically and biblically sound book on making decisions. As we have moved from college ministry into church planting, we realized that adults are equally swamped and stumped when it comes to making decisions. In a culture privileged with so many choices, decisions have become ubiquitous. We often don’t realize how much we are affected by decision-making fatigue. We rarely take time to think about how we think about, approach, and evaluate our decisions. All of these factors led to the making of the book!
Why do you think that making decisions is difficult for most people?
When it comes to decisions, we tend to fall into a few ditches. On one side is the ditch of over-thinking that leads to sheer paralyzation and fear of making the wrong decisions or missing out on the “best” option. On the other side is the ditch of not thinking intentionally about the daily decisions we make and the enormous shaping impact they have on our lives. Trying to find the healthy path of properly thinking about our decisions can become exhausting.
Also, sometimes our practical decision-making process gets bogged down by some theological tensions like the relationship between God’s sovereignty (his control and ordering of all things) and man’s responsibility as his image-bearers with moral agency. We tend to focus on one to the practical denial of the other, which hampers our decision-making process.
We live in a society that provides us with seemingly endless choices with everything from coffee to cars and everything in between. What role do you think our society plays in making decisions seem difficult for many people?
Our culture has raised individualism to a dangerous level, ultimately placing self at the center. I often say that self makes a terrible sovereign. Our culture promises incredible freedom in all areas: you make your own identity, you decide your own values, you plan your own path, you decide your own destiny. While this certainly sounds like freedom, it feels like bondage. Self was never meant to carry that kind of weight. Thus, decisions move from being a privilege we get to steward to a crushing burden.
Do you think that decision making gets easier or harder with life experience?
In general, I think that the decision-making process gets easier with age and experience when God is the increasing priority of our lives. Age and experience by themselves are amoral (neither moral nor immoral). There are ample examples of biblical kings who began well but finished terribly, and the same is true of popular culture. However, when we are approaching our lives with Christ at the center, we are being conformed more and more into the likeness of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:17-18). The longer we walk with God, the longer our record of HIs faithfulness becomes. We draw from past faithfulness when we think about future decisions, so the longer we walk with God, the more we will grow in a healthy trust of him and healthy distrust of our own flesh, the world, and the enemy of our souls.
In the book you talk about a dashboard of decision making, which I found to be very practical and helpful. This helps take much of the mystique out of decision making. Why do you think that making decisions has taken on a super spiritualized nature for many Christians?
Many of us live with an unintentional (and unbiblical) sacred and secular divide. As such, we sometimes feel the need to put a spiritual veneer on things that are, in reality, already sacred to the Lord. Nothing is secular except sin. God has given us minds, rational capacities, personalities, experiences, and desires that are unique and nuanced. He invites us to bring all of these to bear in the decision-making process. I think Nehemiah is an excellent example of a balanced decision-maker. When he hears about the condition of his beloved city, he weeps, fasts, and prays. But he also makes plans to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem using the brain God gave him, the position God allowed him to have, and the resources surrounding him.
Why is it important to understand the sovereignty of God as it relates to decisions we make? Does this mean that a believer can be frivolous in making decisions and trust God to fix things if they make a bad decision?
The Christian life is riddled with mysteries – God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility being one of them. When someone asked C.H. Spurgeon how he reconciled the two, he replied that he never reconciled friends as they did not need to be reconciled! I find that helpful! It is not an either/or but a both/and. God is sovereign and in control of my every decision and I will be held accountable for my decisions, both large and small. The reality of God’s providential guidance of all of history (including my life and my decisions) provides a net of safety and trust that should free me to be able to risk wisely rather than act flippantly.
Your book is an excellent resource in regards to thinking through the biblical model for decision making. How do you hope to see the book impact the lives of those who read it?
My prayer for this book is that God would use it to help people move from seeing decisions as problems to be solved toward seeing decisions as privileges to be stewarded. I long to see people walk in the freedom and peace God has purchased for us as his children, but I also want them to use this freedom in decisions to advance his kingdom and his cause on earth. I think the title says it all: I pray that this book would demystify and bring greater biblical perspective on the process of making decisions!
Do you have any future books in progress currently?
I am working on a proposal for a book about growing our capacity for true biblical trust in an increasingly cynical society. Faith and trust are twin concepts that are at the very heart of Christianity, but so many of us struggle to trust. Past experiences of abuse or trauma or even pedestrian betrayal and disappointment give us a framework of distrust. The book would explore many important questions we ask ourselves regularly: What does the Bible say about trust? What is the relationship between trust and healthy boundaries? What practices help strengthen our trust muscles when we have been hurt in the past? How can we fight to trust God in the midst of deep pain and confusion?
Zach Kendrick is the editor of Reading For The Glory.
Editor’s Note: RFTG would like to thank the author for generously taking the time to provide thoughtful answers to these questions. Additionally, gratitude is owed to Crossway publicists Lauren Susanto and Lo Milkowski for arranging and coordinating the interview process.
Like the content you see on Reading For The Glory? We invite you to subscribe to the reviews by providing your email at the bottom on this page. You can also follow us on Twitter @reading4glory and Instagram @readingfortheglory