Frequently my children will respond to an instruction by saying, “But I don’t want to!” To which I respond in turn: “You don’t have to want to, you just have to do it.” Similarly they will protest the food on their plate by saying “I don’t like it” and I lovingly explain, “You don’t have to like it, you just have to eat it.” My goal is certainly not to be mean to them. In fact, I respond the way that I do because I love them so much. I love them enough to try to teach them that the wisest choices in life are not always made by considering what I like or what I want.
There are many ways that this proves true in life. Think about it. You don’t always want to eat what is healthiest for you. You don’t always like what is expected of you at work. You may not even want to get up in the morning. However, when you only do what you want and avoid what you dislike, you end up unhealthy and unemployed and unhappy. It is a foolish person indeed that uses their own desires and preferences as their only criteria for decision making.
This dangerous decision making model can also be found in many churches. Instead of thinking about what is best or healthiest, those in power simply consider what they like or want. Programs, initiatives, projects, service times, music styles, etc. are all determined simply on the basis of personal preference. Many times this seems to work out for awhile because those people making the decisions happen to want good things. However, when their desires conflict with what is best or right, their desires will still win out. This leads to a pattern of bad decisions that lead to long term spiritual bad health.
In both personal and ecclesiastical life, we must consider factors beyond our personal desires and preferences. The Bible instructs each of us to “look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others (Philippians 2:4).” We are also told to “prefer one another (Romans 12:10).” When we face decisions, we can’t think only about ourselves. We must also consider the kingdom. In fact, Jesus said to seek the kingdom of God first. We must place His plans and priorities and desires above our own. This type of decision making leads to wise and healthy individuals and churches.
Don’t fall into the trap of selfish decision making. When it comes to determining how you will make decisions, be sure to choose wisely!