Leadership,  Living as a Leader

Making the Tough Decisions – Part 1

imageThe most important test a leader will ever face is when he or she must make the tough, painful, gut wrenching, and sleep losing decision.  It’s part of the leader’s job, it’s in their unwritten job description – leaders must make hard decisions, it’s not a matter of if, but of when.

So when I was asked to teach a workshop on how to make tough decisions at the Christian Camp and Conference Association’s (CCCA) national conference in December I said yes.

To that end, over the next month, as I prepare to present I will post some of my ruminations about this important subject looking for input and feedback.

One of my first conclusions about making tough decisions is not only do leaders need to make hard decisions but being a multiplying leader (Leadership25) and making hard decisions are actually synonymous.  The two are inseparable.  To be a leader means to make hard decisions.

The reason is we live in a fallen and broken world and, as a result, hard decisions will come our way.  So it is that leaders will always face hard calls.  And the most impactful leaders will always take on the hard decisions, seeing them as opportunities to make a difference in the world.

Over the next several weeks, as I develop my workshop on making hard decisions, I will post thoughts on such issues as:

  • Conviction and courage
  • Facing the brutal facts
  • Clarity on answers to key questions
  • Being the only person with all the information
  • Trust and Speed
  • The Fog of war and making mistakes
  • Prayer

What I’d love is for you to join me in this work.  I’d love your feedback, thoughts, and stories that can help me create an effective workshop that will benefit leaders from around the country and the world.



    • Michael Perry

      Thanks David, any input you have, thoughts, wisdom on this subject I’d appreciate. Because you’re a leader I know you’ve made many hard decisions so have no doubt you’ll lead well through the changes you’re in the middle of.

  • thep8fam04

    some fist hand thoughts. As we grow Family Lines, I’ve come to a point where I must embrace my limitations if I want God to take what I have and make it greater. In decision making understanding my limitations helps me make better choices because it forces me to think simpler and think with clarity.

    Another thought is, asking better questions that don’t create victim mentality. Questions like, “what can I do to ________” or “who would be better at this than me”, or what do i need to say no to, so I can make my yes succeed.

    Lastly, When decision is made, how do I communicate or when a decision is made how do I receive it. When communicating, does this person like the details or cut the story just get straight to the point? When receiving a made decision, do I look at it as a gift and open it with excitement or do I take it personally and kick dust.

    I hope this helps. Thanks for being you Michael

    • Michael Perry

      This is great feedback. Thank you. I love the idea of not only asking questions but asking the right ones. I will include this thought in my workshop. I also appreciate the importance of how a decision is communicated. So often I may have made the right decision but have not put in the same amount of time into thinking through the communication part of the decision. This too I will include in my workshop. Thank you.

  • David Frank

    Good to hear you are taking the challenge…smile. Tough decisions are tough and heart rending at times. We all face them, especially if we are trying to understand God’s direction and moving forward with people.

    I am glad you included prayer. Pray and the Word applied to life and relationships is key to understanding God’s mind in any given situation. I am sure it is one of your favorites, and mine, but Proverbs 3:5-7 does not give us a lot of confidence in our own understanding when it comes to hard decisions. It warns us to not automatically think we do understand any given situation or relationship.

    All of us have a block of knowledge we have gleaned through parents, schooling and life in general. But understanding is a bit different. Then we need to think of His understanding, the understanding of the creator, and our understanding, the understanding of the created.

    At times I have agonized over decisions. So many of them,…in fact many of them impact the lives of others. The most difficult have to do with people, in fact most of the do.

    So I am thrilled you have prayer on the list. Praying without ceasing is vital for keeping up daily with His understanding of the issues. His Spirit clears up things.

    His understanding does not necessarily make decisions easier, but it does make them right. The question is if we have His understanding or ours.

    I will be praying for you, Michael as you work through the issues you mentioned. It is an important topic for leaders who have their hearts in what they are doing.


    • Michael Perry

      Hi David,
      Thanks so much for your input. Of course you’ve faced and made hard decisions because you’re a Godly leader. I will add Word to my prayer piece. I’m almost embarrassed I didn’t include it. Prayer with out the Word is like driving cross country without a map (or GPS). Know I appreciate your input.

  • Pete

    One thing that I keep in mind is something I learned a long time ago from Bill Hybels. I ask myself the question: “Is this hard difficult or hard impossible”? There is a distinction. Usually, it is hard difficult when I first thought it was impossible. It takes prayer for God to give clarity and peace. In the pastorate, hard decision alway involve people. People will probably get hurt or feel hurt regardless of the hard decision. I want the church (organism) to move forward but the church is people (relationship). The book of Proverbs is a good read as one wrestles with hard decisions.

    • Michael Perry

      Thanks Pete,
      This distinction between difficult and impossible is great. I also appreciate the perspective of people (relationships) is what makes it difficult. Thanks for the input.

  • Matt

    Mike – important topic – this last decade has been a lesson in making tough decisions for me – looking forward to the learnings you’ll share as you prepare – the one quote I hold dear as an encouragement is “integrity is never painless”. The author of this quote is anonymous, but it has been a reminder to me that doing the right thing is seldom easy, but always necessary. – Matt

  • Kenny Grimes

    Here’s one comment I have heard and use (although not all encompassing):
    It’s easier to say ‘no’ when you have a burning ‘yes.’

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: