Every day, we’re faced with decisions that we must make, and those decisions will affect the direction of our lives in one of two fundamental ways: we’ll either get closer to God or further away. This is spiritual decision-making.

Some decisions we deliberate on are small, or seemingly inconsequential (“What should I prioritize in my schedule this week?”), and some have more a more dramatic or lasting impact (“Should we try to have another kid?”).

And the bigger the decision gets the more stressful it can feel, and the more sensitive we may be to input from others if we haven’t exercised our own spiritual muscles.

Why spiritual decision-making matters

This is my prayer for you: that your love will grow more and more; that you will have knowledge and understanding with your love; [10] that you will see the difference between what is important and what is not and choose what is important; that you will be pure and blameless for the coming of Christ; [11] that your life will be full of the many good works that are produced by Jesus Christ to bring glory and praise to God.

Philippians 1:9-11 ERV

Part of growing and maturing spiritually is learning to discern the difference between what’s important and what’s not according to God. He has to define what’s important, and not us; that’s the key element of spiritual decision making.

And what’s important to God is that our love grows: the way we know if a decision we make is the right one according to God is whether or not we become more loving people.

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. [3] For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. [4] So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

[5] If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. [6] But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind.

[7] Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. [8] Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.

James 1:2-8 NLT

You may find yourself in a position now where you’re needing to make a choice, and the choice you make will have serious ramifications spiritually and emotionally. Or, you may be reflecting on your daily life and seeing the need to reexamine your priorities based on feedback you’re getting from friends, or a distance you feel in your relationship with God.

Whatever the challenge may be, God wants us to see that the process of searching our heart and making decisions based on what God wants for our lives is how we grow. He wants a prayer for direction and clarity more than he wants us to try and be perfect on our own.

Spiritual decision making is a process of prioritizing what will keep you close to God. The following are steps you can take to help you apply this process to your next decision, big or small.

Identify the decisions you’re currently facing

There are lots of different types of decisions we need to make day to day, but there are three categories worth honing in on when considering scenarios where we need to make spiritual decisions:

  • Schedule decisions – What we prioritize during the week. Should I spend time with people who will help me in my relationship with God, or choose to be alone?
  • Relationship decisions – Which relationships should I invest in? Will I be honest with my spouse or choose to be hidden? What are the consequences of these decisions?
  • Life decisions – Big choices that will affect our lives in a major way. Should I marry this person? Should I take that job? Should I move there?

Making any of these decisions without regard to the impact on our ability to remain intimately close to God is a mistake. If our choices make us unable to live a life of love, we’re essentially saying we don’t believe we need to apply the Bible to our lives. Again, the choices we make will either draw us closer to God, or push us farther away.

Quote graphic for spiritual decision making. "Start by asking: what will make God happy?"

If you’re struggling with how to know God’s will in decision making, start by asking what it is that makes God happy. Let’s start with some Bible verses for direction and clarity to help us with that understanding.

Ask yourself: what will make God happy?

[1] Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. [2] Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 12:1-2 NIV

It makes God happy when we give our lives to him as a sacrifice. He feels loved when we give up control, and are willing to do whatever he wants out of our grateful for what he has done for us.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself to help you apply God’s word to your decision making:

  • Do you conform to the pattern of the world in your decision-making process?
  • Do you offer up prayers for guidance in decision making? Or make decisions in isolation?
  • What’s the “pattern of the world” in your case when making big decisions?
  • Have you experienced the transformative renewing of the mind to focus on pleasing God?
  • Do you have a ‘please God first’ mindset?
  • Do you believe God’s will for your life is good? How does it affect our decision making when we don’t?
[33] What you should want most is God’s kingdom and doing what he wants you to do. Then he will give you all these other things you need. [34] So don’t worry about tomorrow. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Tomorrow will have its own worries.

Matthew 6:33-34 ERV

When we’re out of practice with spiritual decision making, God’s kingdom becomes an afterthought rather than our top priority. Over time, we start experiencing church burnout due to an over-reliance on rules, and we start seeing it as a schedule hindrance rather than a passionate pursuit.

  • Is God’s kingdom what you want most in life?
  • When you weigh the pros and cons of a decision you’re faced with, does God’s kingdom enter the equation? 
  • What are the desires you have that can supplant God’s kingdom?
  • Some examples: comfort, easier life, money/financial control, attention, people’s approval, family’s approval.

Choose faith over fear

[38] And, “But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.” [39] But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.

Hebrews 10:38-39 NIV

Fear makes us want to take control of our life (schedule, future, etc) and shrink back from faith in God instead. Take time to make your own Bible studies on men and women in the Bible who acted on faith instead of living fearfully. 

  • In what ways do you feel afraid, and tempted to take control of your life?
  • How do you see yourself taking control back from God?

Choose purpose over pleasure

The Son of Man came to find lost people and save them.”

Luke 19:10 ERV

Jesus’ purpose on earth was not career, money or maximizing comfortability, but rather finding the lost and saving them. This should be our goal as his disciples in every decision we make

But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus-the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.

Acts 20:24 NLT

Nothing we do in life will matter if we stray from the purpose God called us to. When making spiritual decisions, you should ask yourself if what you’re choosing will help you make more of an impact on others or less.

  • Is this your attitude now? 
  • Or has your purpose as a Christian taken a backseat to other things?

Ask a friend to help you reflect

These Bible verses about making choices hopefully have helped you start to reexamine things. If you read this study on your own, take some time with friends to ask the following questions and get perspective and help you in your spiritual decision making process:

  • What are the desires you have that can compete with God’s kingdom and affect your decision-making? Some examples: comfort, easy life, money/financial control, attention, people’s approval, family’s approval, etc
  • What are some ways you have seen the temptation to take control of your life come up?
  • What do you think it would look like to make seeking and saving the lost your top priority?
Explore more:
Deep Spirituality logo

This article was created by a member of the Deep Spirituality editorial team.

Deep Spirituality logo

This article was created by a member of the Deep Spirituality editorial team.

Our first book is officially live.

Rebuild your relationship from the ground up with He's Not Who You Think He Is: Dropping Your Assumptions and Discovering God for Yourself.

Spiritual Decision-Making 6