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5 Criterion for Decision Making

June 21, 2018
By Dr. Jason Song

I have spoken with hundreds of young people who were looking for work or career or college majors. Most of them asked for guidelines that they could use to make a good decision. I applaud them for desiring to make the right choice but, clearly, graduating from college or having majored in a certain field doesn't necessarily equip people to make wise decisions. So, when they approach me, I share the following five principles with them.

#1: The Big Question 
Will the position/job/career or the decision/choice glorify God, expand His kingdom, and bless His people? For Christians, this has to be the most important question in any decision making. This question, for instance, essentially eliminates career and work that are illegal, unedifying, selfish, or even questionable. The answer to this question depends on one's depth of knowledge and relationship with God. Will God be pleased with what you are about to do? Will He be glad to be part of your journey? Is this something that you are proud to do for the Master who gave you the opportunity to serve Him? Will others be positively affected by your work? These are the more specific questions that must be answered honestly and transparently.

#2: Gifts and Talents
The second question is related to one’s endowed gifts or talents: Am I good at it?  I believe that God endows every person with identifiable talents and gifts. That talent makes a person particularly and consistently better than others in handling specific tasks. For example, there are those who are far more athletic than others, and then there are those who are far more academic than others. Some people are gifted with their hands--they can fix anything, or make things with their hands. Some people are gifted in relating to others, listening to them, and providing support and comfort. Some people are much much more logical and, thus, able to work out complicated problems. So, it is important for those who want to embark on a career to consider their strengths, talents, and assets.

#3: Desire and Passion 
The third question is related to one's desire or passion: Do I like what I’m about to do, and do I want to continue to do it? You must like what you do. It is absolutely criticial that you don't take on a job or a career just to get a paycheck. If y0u do, they will not give you long-term satisfaction. Now, this does not mean that you should wait around for the dream job. I am, however, saying that if you are looking for a long-term career, you must do what you like to do, what you are passionate about. If the passion isn’t there, you’ll quickly find the work tedious and even meaningless. Doing things you don't like to do everyday will not bring out the best in you. So, it is very important to align your work with your passion.  

I must add that some people have dreams or passions that are completely unrelated to their gifts or talent. This is a mismatch that can cause a lot of frustration, missed opportunities, and lost time. Remember that aligning your talent with your passion is critical to finding a long-term career that you will enjoy and be very good at.

#4: Finance and Money
The fourth question is related to finances or money: Can I make a living at it? I firmly believe that the Bible teaches the followers of Jesus Christ to engage in activities or work which renders financial benefits. If you work, I hope you can earn a living so that you can take care of yourself and, possibly, your loved ones. If, for example, what you are passionate about doesn't earn you any money or very little of it, you're likely to have major problems. Pursuing your passion is important, but you must figure out if that pursuit will produce financial benefits necessary to make a living. If you can’t, it might be necessary to revist #2 and #3 above to think things through more carefully. Unless you have someone who will pay for your living, or you’re willing to make the sacrifices to pursue your dream, you might have to go back to the drawing board.

#5: Affirmation
The last criterion is about other people’s objective opinion on what you are about to do: Do those who love you, and you trust and value, affirm and support your decision? What do your mentors, family members, and trustworthy friends say about your decision? While others’ input should not be the overriding determinant of your decision, you should take into consideration the collective wisdom, experience, and honesty of those who truly care about you. Often, their affirmation and support will play the role of confirmation on your career choice or decision making.

I must caution that people's input should be carefully filtered. There may be meddlesome parents or others with ulterior motives who can potentially steer you in the wrong direction. That is why it is very important to seek objective, honest, and loving opinions and input.

As you can see, using the five criterion/questions can help you to navigate through doubts and confusion when facing major (and minor) decisions. Please share this with others searching for directions. Or, if you’re such a person, well, I hope you’ll find it useful and illuminating. Keep in mind that, as you pose these questions, you should pray and seek God’s will. He will give you peace, signs, and confidence as you move forward in His will and purpose.