You and your spouse show up for your married small group on a Thursday night, ready to discuss your bible study and catch up with friends. You enjoy meeting with other couples, and desire for this community to provide safety, authenticity, and encouragement. Along the way, you hope you and your spouse find a place to share the highs and lows of following Christ, marriage, and parenting.
When your church leaders told you about community, they said you’d find friends to help you study the Bible, make fun memories, and discuss the big decisions of life. You know you have some major decisions to make in the next few years, so you desire to receive the input and counsel from others.
But, when you show up for group this particular Thursday night, one of the other couples in the group proudly says, “We prayed about it, and we’re buying a BRAND-NEW HOME!” They report to the other couples that they’re going to move from your neighborhood where you all live and move 15 minutes away because they can get more house for the money. Meanwhile, they’re going to go into a large amount of debt to buy the house, even though his income drastically fluctuates from month to month.
What happened to processing decisions together as a community? You and your spouse thought your group was a place to process decisions, not report decisions. So when you ask the house-buying couple how they made their decision and why they didn’t include your community in the process, they reply (with a defensive posture) that since you and your spouse didn’t discuss your job change and car purchase with community that they didn’t need to process either.
You and your spouse, and the other couple in this group, reported your decisions to others, rather than genuinely seeking to process. Meanwhile, you’ve missed out on the incredible provision of community.
Do you report or process decisions with your community?
Can you and your spouse make good decisions without involving the input of others? Of course. But, in the process (pun intended), you miss out on God's tremendous blessing and gift of community and potentially made a foolish decision or two along the way.
As married couples, we all make many important decisions:
- What kind of car should we buy?
- Where should we live?
- Should I go back to school? Take this job or that one?
- How many kids should we have? What if we’re unable to get pregnant?
- What do we do with our difficult child(ren)?
- Should we separate? If so, where will we each live? Who will get the kids?
Fortunately for you and me, God’s Word provides an ABUNDANCE of counsel on decision making and the value and role of community. God’s Word makes it very clear that there is great wisdom in processing, not just in deciding and reporting:
- Proverbs 18:1 says, "Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment."
- Proverbs 12:15 says, "The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice."
- Proverbs 15:22 says, “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed."
The couple who makes decisions in isolation chooses to work against wise counsel.
What’s it going to be? Will you be the fool or be the wise couple who listens to advice?
Do you want to fail or succeed? While we’re not guaranteed perfect success when we invite others in, the chances of making wise decisions increase significantly when we ask others to help us process.
Most of us would agree our biggest regrets and most foolish decisions took place outside of the context of community. Those decisions we wish we could have back probably would not have had the devastating consequences they produced had we chosen to involve others in our decision-making process.
Any wise decision you make should be able to stand up to any amount of scrutiny from other people and God’s Word. Any time we rush a decision out of fear of what others might say, we choose to miss out on the blessing God provides through the context of community.
A few suggestions on how to best process decisions:
- Set a deadline for making your decision, share this date with your community, and let them know when you plan to discuss with them. Give yourself as much margin as possible so that you’re not forced into making a last-minute decision.
- Encourage the couple making the decision to discuss with the entire community at one time, rather than having one-off conversations with every other couple. You can much more easily convince one couple to decide in your favor or to tell you what you want to hear than you can convince a room full of couples.
- Give your community permission to ask any and every question. Remember every decision will stand up to any level of scrutiny.
- Look for ways to build trust together as a group. We know the challenge of sharing something personal and intimate like finances around big decisions. We’re not suggesting everyone rolls out their budget on the night you meet for the first time. But, you can look for ways to build trust as a group.
- Trust comes from spending time together. Make it a priority to spend time together over meals, bible study, and fun experiences.
- If you need to, start with something small and then look to increase how much you share with others.
- Be a trustworthy person – do what you say and don’t be a gossip.
- Discuss the challenges of sharing personal information with others. Talk about the elephant in the room and it will help you be more willing to share in the future.
- A few years ago, Blake Holmes, Watermark’s Senior Equipping Pastor & Watermark Residency Director, preached a two-part series called “Should I.” If you want some extra wisdom on how to make decisions, listen to this series (Part 1, Part 2).
The fool makes decisions in isolation, while the wise man listens to advice. What’s it going to be? Will you and your spouse continue to decide in isolation and report, or will you be willing to process those decisions in community? Will you choose to ignore or embrace God’s beautiful gift of community?
Choose to be a couple who processes in community instead of one who decides in isolation and reports the results to others.
Discuss with your spouse:
- Do you tend to report or process? Provide specific examples.
- What are the areas of your marriage where you often make big decisions without the counsel and input of others?
Discuss with your community group or re|engage group:
- If you’re in a small group/community group, share this post with them. Discuss as a group how you think you’re doing collectively at reporting v. processing.
- What benefits do you see will come from processing decisions with your community group or re|engage group?