Emotionally Charged Decisions

So on a plane bound for Las Vegas for a business trip this morning, I decided to catch up on some Youth Worker magazines I hadn’t read.  One of the articles from the Nov/Dec 2008 issue really struck me.  As a culture we’re very dependent on our emotions.  Face it, if you’re 30 or younger, chances are your first inclination in a dilema is to look at what we feel.  We let those emotions run our lives.  This was really a problem that started hundreds of years ago, but really became a prominent problem back in the 1960’s.  But this is contradictory to what Scripture says.  Jeremiah 17:9 says the heart is deceitful above all things. 

So how are we supposed to teach our students to not make emotional decisions, but one’s based on Biblical truth?  This is a huge question for all Youth Ministries, and will only grow in terms of its importance.  Here are my thoughts on how to approach this problem:

  1. Demonstrate Biblical decisions
    One of the most damaging things we can do for our students is to consistently make decisions on how we feel.  How should we make decisions?  First, we must see what Scripture says.  Second, we need to ask God about it.  Actually these two should be simultaneous.  Thirdly, seek wisdom from those who are more spiritually mature than you.  This is important because it’s these people that will give you Godly, Biblical wisdom.  Anyone else will just give you their opinion, which is likely based on emotion, not God.
  2. Challenge their emotions
    When you start talking with students about decisions they’re making, challenge it when it sounds like emotion.  Of course, we need to do this in love, not out of malice or because we’ve ‘figured it out’.  What I like to do, and not just with students, is first ask if they’ve prayed on it.  Next, I ask if they’ve sought scripture on it.  Usually these two stop someone in their tracks, most want to live in their ignorance.  Most students haven’t done either of these.  So I like to try to help them see what Scripture says, and of course I want to pray with them.
  3. Share our failures
    Face it, we’re not going to be perfect on this side of Heaven.  We’re bound to make some decisions based on our emotions at some point.  When it’s appropriate, share it with your students.  Obviously if you decided to cheat on your spouse because it felt good, well it may not be appropriate to share that, at least not if it’s a recent occurance.  But one of the most effective ways I’ve found to get something to stick with students is when I can relate something that’s really happened in my life and how I learned or changed from it.