Alan Neale

Transition Coach / Writer • Speaker

“MAKING DECISIONS – #1 THE PROCESS” – Sunday January 15, 2017. Trinity Church, Newport RI. Alan Neale

(These are the bare bones, the provided notes, that helped guide the conversation yesterday.
There was interest in discussing what it is that inhibits us from making “gut/instinctive” decisions?
There was also a strong emphasis that before, during and after making decisions we develop our faith in God who wishes the best for us and is always more than able to work with any chaos caused by our decisions – Alan)

Trinity Church
Newport RI


#1 – The Process
Sunday January 15 2017

1. Notes from David Brooks (NYT) & Bill Wilson (AA) – see appendix A

2. Decision Making in the Bible (two examples)

Judges 6:33-40
33-35 All the Midianites and Amalekites (the easterners) got together, crossed the river, and made camp in the Valley of Jezreel. GOD’s Spirit came over Gideon. He blew his ram’s horn trumpet and the Abiezrites came out, ready to follow him. He dispatched messengers all through Manasseh, calling them to the battle; also to Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali. They all came.
36-37 Gideon said to God, “If this is right, if you are using me to save Israel as you’ve said, then look: I’m placing a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. If dew is on the fleece only, but the floor is dry, then I know that you will use me to save Israel, as you said.”
38 That’s what happened. When he got up early the next morning, he wrung out the fleece—enough dew to fill a bowl with water!
39 Then Gideon said to God, “Don’t be impatient with me, but let me say one more thing. I want to try another time with the fleece. But this time let the fleece stay dry, while the dew drenches the ground.”
40 God made it happen that very night. Only the fleece was dry while the ground was wet with dew.

Acts 1:15-26
15-17 During this time, Peter stood up in the company—there were about 120 of them in the room at the time—and said, “Friends, long ago the Holy Spirit spoke through David regarding Judas, who became the guide to those who arrested Jesus. That Scripture had to be fulfilled, and now has been. Judas was one of us and had his assigned place in this ministry.
21-22 “Judas must now be replaced. The replacement must come from the company of men who stayed together with us from the time Jesus was baptized by John up to the day of his ascension, designated along with us as a witness to his resurrection.”
23-26 They nominated two: Joseph Barsabbas, nicknamed Justus, and Matthias. Then they prayed, “You, O God, know every one of us inside and out. Make plain which of these two men you choose to take the place in this ministry and leadership that Judas threw away in order to go his own way.” They then drew straws. Matthias won and was counted in with the eleven apostles.

3. The Perspective of Decision Making

i. Ourselves – motives, backgrounds, expectations
ii. Others – advice, impact
iii. God – the One who cares, who intervenes

Prayers from the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer

57. For Guidance

Direct us, O Lord, in all our doings with thy most gracious favor, and further us with thy continual help; that in all our works begun, continued, and ended in thee, we may glorify thy holy Name, and finally, by thy mercy, obtain everlastinglife; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

58. For Guidance

O God, by whom the meek are guided in judgment, and
light riseth up in darkness for the godly: Grant us, in all
our doubts and uncertainties, the grace to ask what thou wouldest have us to do, that the Spirit of wisdom may saveus from all false choices, and that in thy light we may see light, and in thy straight path may not stumble; through
Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Every day each of us are faced with numerous choices. What should we do when the Bible doesn’t seem to speak directly to the situations we face and the decisions we make?
The following 10 principals will help you to make decisions that glorify God and honor others.

1. What Biblical Principles Should Inform My Decision?

Proverbs 3:5-6
“Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”
1 Corinthians 10:31
“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
Philippians 4:8
“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”
Questions To Ask
1. What does the Bible have to say about that?
2. Who can help me better understand what God’s Word says about this decision?
3. Make sure you are not the only one who holds to your interpretation.

2. Do I Have All The Facts?
Proverbs 18:13
“He who gives an answer before he hears, it is folly and shame to him.”
Questions To Ask
1. Ask a lot of questions.
2. Don’t fall prey to “wishful thinking”or let your emotions get the best of you.
3. Remember that there are two sides to every story.

3. Is The Pressure Of Time Forcing Me To Make A Premature Decision?
Proverbs 19:2
“Also it is not good for a person to be without knowledge, and he who makes haste with his feet errs.”
Proverbs 21:5
“The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage, but everyone who is hasty comes surely to poverty.”
Questions To Ask
1. Beware of the “once in a life time” deal and the lure of instant gratification.
2. Don’t let the fear of missing out drive your decision.
3. When in doubt, leave it out.

4. What Possible Motives Are Driving My Decision?
Proverbs 16:2
“All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, but the Lord weighs the motives.
Questions To Ask
1. Acknowledge that you have “blind spots.” Page 2
2. Honestly assess your motives, both good and bad.
3. Give others permission to speak in to your life.

5. How Should Past Experiences Inform My Decision?
Proverbs 26:11
“Like a dog that returns to its vomit is a fool who repeats his folly.”
Questions To Ask
1. Look for patterns of behavior – “triggers.”
2. Understand how your family back ground might affect your thinking.
3. Learn from your mistakes!

6. What Is The Collective Counsel Of My Community?
Proverbs 11:14
“Where there is no guidance the people fall, but in an abundance of counselors there is victory.”
Questions To Ask
1. Avoid having many separate conversations.
2. Recognize the difference between “selling” and “sharing.”
3. Know when to “open the circle.”

7. Have I Honestly Considered The Warning Signs?
Proverbs 10:17
“He is on the path of life who heeds instruction, but he who forsakes reproof goes astray.”
Questions To Ask
1. Don’t think you are the “exception” to the rule.
2. Remember that God’s way is the best way.

8. Have I Considered The Possible Outcomes For My Course Of Action?
Proverbs 14:15
“The naïve believes everything, but the prudent man considers his steps.”
Proverbs 27:12
“A prudent man sees evil and hides himself, the naïve proceed and pay the penalty.”
Questions To Ask
1. Do the “long math.”
2. Assess the potential risks.
3. Have a contingency plan.

9 .Could This Decision Jeopardize My Integrity Or Hinder My Witness For The Lord?
Proverbs 10:9
“He who walks in integrity walks securely, but he who perverts his ways will be found out.”
Proverbs 20:7
“A righteous man who walks in his integrity—how blessed are his sons after him.”
Questions To Ask
1. Work toward the “center” rather than flirt with the “edge.”
2. Ask yourself, would this pass the “newspaper” test?
3. Keep short accounts.

10. Is There A Better Option That Would Allow Me To Make A Greater Impact For God’s Kingdom?
Proverbs 11:30
“The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who is wise wins souls.”
Questions To Ask
1. Ask yourself, what story could God be writing?
2. Don’t assume that just because something is hard that it is not God’s will.
3. Understand how God has uniquely gifted and resourced you.


The Home Buying Decision
David Brooks JAN. 6, 2017

I’ve been thinking about the big decisions in life: How do people choose careers, colleges, spouses and towns. Of those decisions, buying a home ranks with the most difficult.
It is difficult emotionally. Like a lot of the biggest decisions, it is more emotional than coldly rational. People generally don’t select a house; they fall in love with it.
Part of that falling-in-love process is aesthetic: the sense you get within 10 seconds of walking into a place that it just feels happy and right. Part is aspirational: When people fall in love with a house, they aren’t really falling in love with the walls and the roof; they are falling in love with a beautiful vision of their future lives.
That process of falling in love is confusing and mysterious. When you’re buying a house, you’re making a stressful major financial decision based on a set of emotions you can’t control, don’t fully understand and can’t pin down in any concrete way.
Cupid’s housing arrow has a tendency to strike you unawares. You walk into a place and just start behaving differently. You find yourself talking about where you’re going to put your furniture; you feel defensive when the Realtor mentions some of the place’s flaws; you feel the urge to brag about the house to your friends; you feel comfortable walking into the bedrooms and bathrooms, even on the first tour; you feel bereft at the thought of not having it. You’re just buying an object, but your heart is suddenly on the line.
Choosing a house is also difficult psychologically. The whole process forces you to separate what you think you want from what you really want. Realtors have a phrase, “Buyers lie,” because at the start of the process so many people don’t know what they desire.
You may have dreams of being the sort of person who has a fantastically eclectic house, filled with beautiful and exotic objects and where you can host squads of people for big dinners and parties; and that you can have a house that is a crossroads for diverse populations.
But when you actually survey the homes you are drawn to, you realize that you in fact love your privacy; that you don’t care enough about interior design to spend years searching for the fascinating objets; that in real life the thought of neighbors constantly coming over fills you with exhaustion; that a sense of quiet, tranquillity and privacy is more important to you than the frenetic chaos that comes with running Grand Central Station.
House hunting is cognitively challenging. At some point the inspections, the appraisal and the price negotiation impose cold rigor on this hot process. You don’t know what the seller (that jerk!) is thinking, or how exactly you are getting shafted in the process (though you are!). At some point the head has to check and set boundaries on the heart, employing certain mental tricks to self-distance. For example:
How do you make the major decisions about offers and conditions? Pretend you are advising a friend, not yourself.
How do you know you’ve fairly sampled the market and haven’t missed a better house somewhere out there? At the start, tell yourself you’re going to see 50 homes total. Visit 18 without making an offer on any of them. Then make an offer on the next house that’s better than the first 18.
How do you force yourself to remember in the middle of a negotiation that you’ve got to be willing to walk away? Remind yourself that this is not a narrow-framed binary buy-or-not-buy choice. There are many other housing options out there on the market.
Finally, house hunting is morally difficult. This is where Donald Trump comes in. We’ve become a ferociously fragmented country. People move close to people just like themselves. Every town becomes a cultural ghetto while Americans become strangers to one another and the civic fabric lies in ruins. People feel more comfortable in their insular neighborhoods, but self-segregation is damaging to one’s own open-mindedness and to the country at large. In 2017 it’s probably necessary to put a moral onus on realty decisions, to be seriously bothered by the temptation to talk about diversity but move to homogeneity.

Bill Wilson – AA

On awakening let us think about the twenty-four hours ahead. We consider our plans for the day. Before we begin, we ask God to direct our thinking, especially asking that it be divorced from self-pity, dishonest or self-seeking motives. Under these conditions we can employ our mental faculties with assurance, for after all God gave us brains to use. Our thought-life will be placed on a much higher plane when our thinking is cleared of wrong motives.

In thinking about our day we may face indecision. We may not be able to determine which course to take. Here we ask God for inspiration, an intuitive thought or a decision. We relax and take it easy. We don’t struggle. We are often surprised how the right answers come after we have tried this for a while.

What used to be the hunch or the occasional inspiration gradually becomes a working part of the mind. Being still inexperienced and having just made conscious contact with God, it is not probable that we are going to be inspired at all times. We might pay for this presumption in all sorts of absurd actions and ideas. Nevertheless, we find that our thinking will, as time passes, be more and more on the plane of inspiration. We come to rely upon it.

We lose the fear of making decisions, great and small, as we realize that should our choice prove wrong we can, if we will, learn from the experience. Should our decision be the right one, we can thank God for giving us the courage and the grace that caused us so to act.
– Bill Wilson