The pic above of a debate trophy represents a hasty decision I made, one motivated by fear and done without knowledge, one that changed the course of my life. Here’s the backstory.
Back in junior high, with knees knocking to produce more sound than my voice, I gave an oral report. It sucked, and my fear caused each speech after to suck more. So in high school my mom and school counselor conspired to force me into a speech class, an elective that I didn’t elect. The first day our teacher, Mr. Eugene Gillam, asked who would like to get out of speech. My hand beat all others. The cost: sign up for the debate team. Our family had good natured debates all the time over the dinner table, so I figured table debates would be better than speeches.
Bad decision. We had to go to tournaments. At least 8 over the year. And each tournament had four debates with two speeches, and at least 8 individual event speeches. Balance that with a max of four speeches in the speech class. 128 speeches, minimum, on one hand, 4 on the other. Bad call. But I did what they told me, and did OK. The trophy came at one. OK enough for Pepperdine University to offer what I didn’t know existed, a debate scholarship. Several more years of intensive speaking.
One decision, based on ignorance and fear, with consequences I never imagined. What was the bulk of my professional career? Speaking. A pastor for over 20 years. And educator for the same. A college prof of…Communication. And a conference speaker. Me. Isn’t God funny?
Don’t misunderstand, I love the course of my life. But it never would have occurred if I had known the unanticipated consequences of a hasty act.
Many choices never change our lives. But some do. They can limit our future—decide to avoid college, and you’ll likely never be a college prof. During college I worked at Jack in the Box, making $4/hour, and the manager offered me entry into management, making $30,000 a year, when a decent income was $12,000 to $15,000. I knew that would eliminate my career goal of ministry, but it tempted me.
The point—realize decisions have consequences. Take the time to get informed about everything involved. Analyze likely consequences, pro and con. Bathe it in prayer before deciding, unlike my rash and ignorant one. See if any biblical principles come into play. And, trust in God to work in our decisions, as he promised, “We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps” (Proverbs 16:9 NLT). I made some plans, to avoid speech classes. God determined my steps, onto the debate team. I’m glad he knew more than me.
Kick Starting the Application
Do you tend to analyze and get educated before decisions, or fly by the seat of your pants? Have you made hasty decisions that hurt you? Could you have better foreseen the damage? Have you made hasty decisions that helped you? Did you foresee the benefit? After reading this post, how will you change how you make decisions?