Five Questions to Ask for Decision-Making

We all make decisions daily and often don’t need to think too hard about the decisions we make, like what to make for dinner or what we will wear. There are times, however, when we can use some guidance for decisions of more weighty matters such as career direction, where to live and finances just to name a few. A very popular method for Christians has been the three green lights: when the three green lights of scripture, circumstances and interior peace are in alignment, then that is likely God’s will. However, there are sometimes occasions where two alternatives present themselves and the green lights are aligned for both! What do we do then? In a recent podcast, Peter Scazzero provides some wise guidance to help us when we have to choose between two legitimate alternatives. The following five points are taken from his  podcast, “Five Questions to Guide You in Decision Making.” As Pete reminds us, “God is more committed to guiding and leading you than you are to discerning His will.”

1. How open am I to the will of God? On a scale of 1-10, how open are you to the will of God?
In discerning the will of God, we assume you already have an established rhythm of practicing certain spiritual disciplines (silence and solitude are key practices). To discern God’s leading, you must truly desire what God wants. If you do not want what God wants, you might end up running in an opposite direction. Desiring God’s will is a prerequisite for discerning God’s will. So, be honest with yourself: Are you truly open to God speaking to you? Do you truly desire God’s will in your life, no matter where God leads? That is a prerequisite to discerning God’s will.

2. What do I sense God saying?  What do I sense the Holy Spirit is saying through my experience with consolations and desolations? Pay attention to your emotions. God often uses our inner emotions to communicate to us. Consolations are evidence of God’s presence, such as peace, joy, desire to be with others, feeling drawn toward the love of God. Desolations are emotions experienced when turning away from God such as anxiety, fear, irritability, feeling alienated from others, feeling driven away from God. Emotions are not fool-proof, so we need to carefully discern what they might be saying to us. Emotions are a gift from God that tell us something, if we know how to read them. They can help us discern if we are choosing God’s will or choosing our own self will. Can you identify your emotions? What are they saying to you?

3. What am I hearing from others? Who are the spiritual mentors, key family members and other people you look up to? Identify those who know you best and seek their wise counsel. Ask them about their thoughts regarding what you are considering. Especially consider those who are experienced in the areas you are wrestling with. Who are the 2-3 people you can talk with to help you discern God’s will in your decision?

4. What do I learn from a trial run? In the 15th century, Ignatius of Loyola recommended a two-alternative trial run. Write down the pros and cons of each of the two alternatives you are considering. Consider all the potential benefits and then all of the potential detrimental aspects of each alternative. Then, imagine yourself living for a time–say two weeks–with choice #1. Then imagine living with choice #2 for two weeks. During this time of imaginatively living with each choice, listen for consolations or desolations. What are the likely benefits and negative outcomes of each choice?

5. What does God’s design of me say? Scazzero states it this way: “What does the raw material of who God made me to be say about this decision?” “The “raw material” is who you are at your core, who God made you to be. We often get sidetracked by trying to live up to what others expect us to do or be. To discern God’s will, which alternative allows you to be who God designed you to be, not what others want. Are you trying to be someone you are not designed to be? Which choice allows you to lean into your true self as God created you?

To learn more about Making Decisions see the following resources:

Richard Foster, “Guidance,” chapter 12 in Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998.

Jonathan Petersen, “Discern–Notice God in Everything: An Interview with Stephen Macchia.” Bible Gateway blog, March 29, 2022, accessed March 31, 2022 at

Peter Scazzero, “Five Questions to Guide You in Decision Making.” Emotionally Healthy Leader Podcast, March 29, 2022, accessed March 30, 2022 at

Spiritual Domain Contributor: David Higle, PhD, Director of Clergy Care, Education & Clergy Development The Wesleyan Church

Executive editor: Russ Gunsalus

Curator of content: Dave Higle