Develop Good Judgment

Emotions cloud the ability for good judgment. Maturity, which doesn’t always mean age, limits it. Physical needs such as hunger and sleep also impact the ability to make healthy choices. Personal preferences bring another factor into the mix of what affects the quality of our decisions.

With all of these factors at play, how can we consistently operate with good judgment? How can we truly make healthy and positive choices more often than not throughout every area of life?

  1. Learn from mistakes. Not only from your own mistakes, but the mistakes of others as well. A mistake only equals wasted resources when we fail to apply its lessons.
  2. Have patience. This means patience not only with other people but with yourself as well. Hurrying often leads to poor decisions or even choices that lead us to say “good enough” rather than striving for our best.
  3. Don’t decide. Sometimes we make decisions just to not have the decision lingering over us. Often, waiting would have led to a natural resolution or solution.
  4. Value small decisions. Small changes made over time add up to make a big difference. Never underestimate the impact your small choices can have on your life.
  5. Seek wisdom. Trusting my thoughts when emotions are running at full tilt has often proved a mistake. Relying on others, whether trusted friends or even experts through books, helps keep me on track. For a start, try Proverbs 4.

Consistently having good judgment involves learning to not allow emotions to direct and control decisions. Quite often, emotions indicate one path while the right choice leads down a path in the opposite direction. Being able to make the right choice regardless of feelings shows a developing ability to have good judgment. This does not mean feelings are useless. Feelings can actually direct us down the right path if we’ve spent time knowing the steps the Lord would have us take. In other words, feelings can be great gauges, but they shouldn’t drive the car.

DISCUSSION: What examples can you give of any of the above suggestions in action? Or, maybe you have an example where one would have been prudent in hindsight.

Related Reading:

A Father’s Wise Advice – A post inspired by Proverbs 4

How Do You Plan for Victory – Part of a series about victory in our lives from Chris Patton at Christian Faith at Work

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions – Part 1 and Decisions, Decisions, Decisions – Part 2 – A 2-part series that resulted from the investigation of making decisions in Multiple Choice Gone Mad.

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Be determined. Pursue simplicity. Find balance. Be curious. Be deliberate. Be intentional. Age gracefully. Make the most of every opportunity.


August 1, 2012 at 5:29 pm

I am a HUGE proponent of #5 – seeking wisdom in the counsel of others. I think this is particularly true of godly older people. I have a mentor that I meet with who I've asked counsel concerning so many issues – ministry, marriage, general spiritual growth, finances, etc.

    August 1, 2012 at 5:56 pm

    What I'm realizing lately is that people fail to do this and end up in a miry pit with their own thoughts being the main push into the pit. We NEED other godly people to help us stay on track. A huge part of the problem is that we fail to ask for help. We expect others to come to us when they see us in trouble, but usually people see it way too late to make a significant impact for change. We are ALL busy, and we just can't expect others to always see what we need from them. We must reach out to get the help we need. That means letting go of pride. Oh… this sure is a hot topic for me these days.

      Mark Allman
      August 1, 2012 at 7:32 pm

      I agree. I think when someone is a young adult out on their own; married or not they should seek a mentor. It also might be more than one such as a mentor for finances and one for spiritual stuff ect.

        August 1, 2012 at 8:16 pm

        You are so right. We often need more than one mentor. I think people often miss that important point and put all their eggs in one basket. I am guilty of that myself in my less mature days (not that I'm that mature now). God did not create any one person to be everything to another. Well, that is anyone but Jesus.

August 1, 2012 at 6:31 pm

I especially appreciate points 1, 2, and 4. I tend to be very hard on myself after the fact. It's time to learn from my mistakes, do better, and move forward knowing that I am forgiven. Patience is a tough one, but making small decisions will help me feel like I am progressing.

Who we ask for counsel is important. I have been burned badly, so I am a little more cautious than I used to be. The good thing is that has led me to praying more as I make decisions.

    August 1, 2012 at 6:41 pm

    I am very hard on myself too, so I understand where you are coming from with that point of view. The only way I have found to truly walk in patience is by spending more time with Jesus. I have found nothing else that provides consistent victory in this area. When I lose focus on Him, my patience is one of the first things to go. You are so right in saying that who we ask for counsel is so very important. But God is so faithful! He more often than not gives me the counsel I need through time spent with Him and His Word, but then He sends me just the right person when He wants me to get counsel from another. I am learning to trust Him more in that area.

      August 2, 2012 at 2:23 pm

      Absolutely right, Kari. Spending time with Him is the very best source of counsel. Thankfully spending more time with Him and enjoying the blessing!

Mark Allman
August 1, 2012 at 7:45 pm

I think using good judgment is different than making good decisions in a sense. I think of judgment as evaluating evidence prior to making a decision. To use good judgment in evaluating evidence first you must ask what is your expertise? The second question one must ask is do I have any experience to call upon to evaluate the evidence. If not does someone I know? I should seek out someone who has expertise if I can. If I have access to neither I should then do whatever research is available to help me. Judgment calls for me fall into two categories. One would be in regard to ethical type situations; the other would be non ethical. The ethical decisions must be put up against the word of God in order to make good judgment. You must as well do what you say Kari and that is take the emotion out of the evaluation and not let your judgment be colored by that.

    August 1, 2012 at 8:25 pm

    When I wrote this post, the sense of there being a difference certainly was lingering. Maybe it's the fact that the space between judgment and decision is often hard to spot. Maybe there should be more of a distinction as we go through the process. We often have to make decisions quickly, which is why our ethical judgments must be decided way before we need to make the related decisions. In order to make good decisions, we must have our values decided upon ahead of time rather than having to make both those and the decision in the moment when emotion tends to be running high. Once again, Mark, you make me think and grow beyond the point I had stopped. Thank you! I will be thinking on this one some more.

August 2, 2012 at 9:02 pm

A recent example of seeking wise counsel happened on Monday. A mechanic friend heard the whine as my engine ran and told me I had an AC compressor going out. Not good and not cheap to repair. I'm no expert on cars (I drive them. I fill up their gas tanks. End of story.). I asked his opinion about repairing or replacing.

He offered good counsel that I could trust. Why?

1) He's a man of solid Christian character.
2) He knows his area of expertise.
3) He had no irons in the fire (he didn't do AC work).

Thanks for your own wise counsel as well.

    August 2, 2012 at 10:14 pm

    Great example! Choosing who we work with and knowing that they are in fact giving wise counsel is a big part of it too. We have to have that relationship to know we can trust the counsel we are receiving.

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