5 Reasons We Fear Decision-Making

admin —  October 2, 2012 — Leave a comment

I hate making decisions. Big decisions. Small decisions. “Where should we eat dinner?” and “Where should my daughter go to college?” all feel about the same to me – nerve wracking. I even struggled deciding to write this post on making decisions. Poetic irony.

And while I’m exaggerating (a little) to make a point, I think many of us would admit that we wrestle with decision making. The rest of you are liars (or a bit sadistic).


About 8 months ago I committed to take a ministry trip to Israel with my dear friend, Dr. Mike Elmore, to teach Israeli church leaders about the power of one-on-one mentoring in the spiritual development of men. Since then, I’ve not only stepped out of full-time pastoring, but the stability of the Middle East has also visibly deteriorated (as if it was ever stable to begin with).

So a month ago I contacted Dr. Elmore to tell him I was thinking about backing out.

I wasn’t deciding to back out. I was just thinking about it. And in that moment, I moved into a decisive no-man’s-land. I embraced indecision in a self-protective end-around, aimed to force the uncomfortable choice onto other people (my wife) or circumstances outside of me (a State Department ban on travel). And until this week, I’ve been more than content to just let it hang there, un-decided.

Why do we do that? I can tell you why I do, and perhaps some of these will resonate in you heart as well.

1. I Fear Harm: Let’s face it, I’m afraid my decisions may cause pain. To me. To those I love. No one has to tell us to avoid pain, it’s instinctive. So if I can side-step making the call, I can side-step the potential of becoming a source of pain and leave that finger-pointing pressure to someone else.

2. I Fear Regret: Deciding to move toward something inevitably means deciding to leave something behind. If I say yes, I’m saying no. If I say no, I’m saying yes. What if I choose the wrong thing? Decisiveness will always make regret a potential bedfellow.

3. I Fear Opinions: Someone will always disagree. Think you’re silly. Think you’re stupid. If too much of our identity is wrapped up in how we’re viewed by others, we’ll forever run from decision-making. It’s wise to seek counsel, it’s sinful to crave human approval.

4. I Fear Motives: I know myself. I know my heart, how deceitful, self-centered, and self-protective it can be. What if we make decisions from the wrong place? For the wrong reasons? (See #2)

5. I Fear Consequences: And here’s the real kicker, owning the responsibility is terrifying. Owning my outcomes. It’s so much easier to throw that weight on a faceless “they,” the government, an institution, someone or something else. It’s a whole lot safer not to decide.

The only problem? We have to.

The world doesn’t need more “opinion-havers,” it’s desperate for “decision-makers.” Your business, your church, your family, your community – they need you to step up. To face your fears, to risk regret, to challenge your motives, to own your outcomes, to trust in the Spirit of Christ alive in you (is He alive in you?).

To make decisions.

It’s never going to be easy. It’s never going to be painless. It will always carry the potential for failure, embarrassment, and regret. But it’s not courage if you’re not scared. So let’s get to it. Now. Come on, make the call.

What’s one decision you’ve been avoiding that you need to make today?

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