Decision-Making and the Will of God

Decision Making and the Will of God Today, I’m doing one of my favourite kinds of posts: a book review. It’s helping me ease back into the practice of blogging – I’m feeling rusty. Plus, I really want you to know about this book because I loved it! It’s called Decision-Making and the Will of God by Garry Friesen and J. Robin Maxson. I don’t know how it hadn’t crossed my path yet as it’s somewhat of a classic (I read the 25th Anniversary edition). Thankfully, it was recommended to me recently and now I get to recommend it to you!

Decision-making can be extremely stressful. Who hasn’t felt the pressure of making a good decision? Especially about BIG items like what to do with your life or who to marry. If those are questions you’re struggling with, this book is an excellent aide in helping you understand a biblical model for making decisions.

In Part 1 & 2, Friesen critiques what he calls the traditional view of decision-making. He defines it like this:

  • Premise: For each of our decisions, God has a perfect plan or will. 
  • Purpose: The goal of the believer is to discover God’s individual will and make decisions in accordance with it. 
  • Process: The believer interprets inner impressions and outward signs, which the Holy Spirit uses to communicate God’s individual will.
  • Proof: The confirmation that one has correctly discerned the individual will of God comes from an inner sense of peace and outward (successful) results of the decision. 

I really appreciated how well he articulated these points – most of us haven’t articulated our thoughts around decision-making this clearly and once they are stated this way, you immediately start to see the flaws in them. Friesen thoroughly annihilates this position with verse-by-verse commentary. This was very helpful for me as I have always had issues with this view of decision-making but wasn’t necessarily able to put a finger on what bothered me, much less provide evidence for why there was a problem.

Part 3 explains the alternative model to the “traditional” view that Friesen proposes. He calls it “The way of wisdom” and exhaustively backs up the principles (see below) with scriptural examples.

  1. Where God commands, we must obey. 
  2. Where there is no command, God gives us freedom (and responsibility) to choose. 
  3. Where there is no comman, God gives us wisdom to choose. 
  4. When we have chosen what is moral and wise, we must trust the sovereign God to work all the details together for good. 

After that, it just keeps getting better. In Part 4, Friesen does us all a huge favor and provides chapters discussing what it looks like to make wise decisions in major areas of our lives like marriage, ministry, missions and giving. He takes the model from the abstract to the concrete with very practical examples.

I especially appreciated the chapters on “Wisdom When Christians Differ” and “Weaker Brothers, Pharisees, and Servants.” He stresses the importance of taking the time to “cultivate your own convictions” in areas of freedom that are often up for debate.

Even the appendices have lots to offer: He reviews other books on decision-making and God’s will, provides some practical tools for memorizing Scripture and explains how to hold “Bible Marathons” where you read large chunks of the Bible in one sitting.

At 526 pages, it’s a thick book so it might feel too intimidating to open. Trust me, it’s very easy to read and even if you don’t have time to read it all, going through all of the concise, logical, bullet-point summaries will still give you plenty to consider.

Have you read Decision-Making and the Will of God? What did you think?