Life is full of decisions. For most of us, we truly want to make the best decisions possible, but the undeniable right answer isn’t always obvious. We can see the clear distinction between right and wrong with some choices, but many decisions are more complex. There’s the difference between choosing good or great. There are the way-too-many-times when you can see God’s best being apparent in more than one option. Or the worst case: When you look at a situation and wonder if that’s the enemy’s distraction or God’s plan.
Goodness knows we have to move past “open” and “closed” doors as our theology (thank you, Dr. Blackaby), as well as the measure of something being easy or hard as an indication of the answer. God called so many Biblical characters to walk through “hard.” Noah, Mary, Moses, Jonah, Jesus…. You get the point.
God has given each of us a circle of influence and that often involves being invited in to help someone make a decision. Today, I offer some more insights that I’ve taken away from my Life and Leadership Coach training. Here are 3 things to remember when someone trusts you to help them with a decision…
1. Someone’s self-discovered conviction is stronger than any you can give.
This may be the most exhausting part of parenting adult children. We’re further down the road they’re on. We know the landmines that surprised us and we want to protect them. Yet an imposed conviction is not a conviction. One of the powerful effects of asking questions with no pre-determined answer, but rather a curiosity and full commitment to the well-being of that person, is that it allows them to come to their own conviction. This is easier when it’s not family… but regardless of the relational dynamics, someone can tell if you come in with a predetermined answer versus a willingness to be used to explore solutions.
2. Listen beyond the words.
The ability to listen beyond the actual words is a skill that’s critical to helping people. It’s easy to stick to logistics and facts, but if you listen closely to the types of words people use and the emotion in their voice, you’ll become more tuned to their heart and be able to ask questions that uncover the most important factors to bring them to peace in their decision.
3. Use a “why” question with balanced intentionality.
When we’re in the role of counselor or discipler, we tend to use “why” questions a lot. They require someone to look back and explain. They initiate a process of trying to understand the past, which is key when you’re helping someone try to identify core struggles and patterns of behavior. Having said that, when you’re helping someone move forward, be aware that these questions look back and should be used with intentionality.
The bottom line is that when we sit down with people we know, we never wear just one hat. Even in my coaching role, there will be times when I draw on my discipleship and mentoring experience.
I pray these last two blogs will provide some practical tools to help you help those you influence as they invite you in.