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Author Interview

The 10 Best Decisions a Man Can Make

By Chris Carpenter Program Director - A recent Cosmopolitan magazine survey indicated that 61% of those who participated believe that men of today think they have it tougher than the men of previous generations. 

Author Bill Farrel believes there are a myriad of reasons for this but it is ultimately due to the decisions they must make on a daily basis about family, faith, and career.  With a swirl of technology that demands that life be lived quicker and faster than previous generations, men are being forced to make decisions at an exponentially higher rate.

In his book, The 10 Best Important Decisions Can Make, Farrel equips men with a set of hands-on decision-making tools they need to make decisions they won’t regret.  Along the way, his hope is that men will find their place in God’s plan.

I sat down recently with Farrel to discuss how a man can make better decisions, why a man needs adventure in his life, and what it takes to be a man of principle.

I must confess that I want to be a great husband. I want to be a great Dad, son, brother, employee, and friend. You name the role I want to be great at it. But I often find at the end of the day, I am stressed and exhausted.  Why?  I am making too many decisions. How can a person make better decisions with less stress?

Your question is the exact reason why I wrote this book.  It’s because there is a general principal in our lives that I wished somebody had told me earlier, and that is that our emotions follow our decisions. And so, a man who is good at making decisions raises the energy level of his life. So if we go through our work day, and we’re pretty good at making decisions and we can discern what’s true, we commit to do it without a lot of turmoil, our emotions line up behind those decisions, and we have more energy for work. If we know what decisions to make with our family and with our wife, same thing. We know it’s true, we make the decision, and our emotions line up with it. And then if we know how to grow in a relationship with God, we learn the truth, we decide to do it, our emotions line up with it, we actually gain more energy in our life. And even though we can’t make the demands go away, we start to have more to give to the things we think are important. So it’s kind of a cause-and effect thing, that when we’re confused about decisions, it drains energy. So then when we get home to the people that are important to us, we’re exhausted.

Throughout Scripture we see example after example of men seeking adventure in one form or another. Abraham, Gideon, David, Paul, the twelve disciples, just to name a few. Do you believe a man needs adventure in his life to be happy?

What a man needs is something to pursue that’s bigger than himself. The way God designed men, He made us strong, He put high doses of testosterone in us, and He made us all really talented. And so, we need some place to put all of that. And a man who doesn’t have a big enough idea to live for, either his passions get out of focus and he creates damage in his life, or he gets bored and angry. So, when you look at the way God works with men throughout the Bible, He doesn’t call them all to the same adventure, but He calls all men to something bigger than themselves. And the key to it is to make sure it’s self-defined. Like when we talk about adventure, we tend to think of outdoors. We think of rugged living. We think of guys conquering the elements. And, for some guys, that is it. For some guys, it’s technology. So that when you look at the technological world we live in, it’s because a whole bunch of guys pursued where the end of that thing is, and they’re still looking for it. For some men, it’s relational. For some men, it’s community involvement. For some men, it’s in business. For some men, it’s in the political realm. For some men, it’s missions. The key is to be self-defined, but what all men need is an idea that’s bigger than us, that captures our imagination and requires us to trust God. Because if it isn’t big enough, we’ll just gut it out on our own, and we’ll miss out on what God has for our lives.

Of the ten best decisions that you write about in The 10 Best Decisions a Man Can Make, is there one particular decision that kind of stands out for you above the others as the most important?

I’m going to give you two.  The first one that stands out to me, it almost sounds too simple; and it’s decide to be decisive. Because, when I was a young man, I thought decision making was a gift. Like, some people got it, some people didn’t. And I’ve come to realize, it’s a skill. And any of us can develop it. You can learn how to make decisions, and so I put my plan for learning it in the book.  There are four tests you can apply to any of your decisions to figure out if this is something you’ve got to do or not. And the first one’s really easy to explain, so I’ll share that. It’s what I call the “obvious” test, and that’s one question. “Is this decision so obvious I’m wasting time thinking about it?” Because what I see is a lot of people bogged down right at the beginning. Is what I should do clear, all of the signs are obvious, God’s already spoken on it, but I’m going to stop and deliberate it anyway. And when you do that, you rob a lot of energy from your life.

The other one that’s really important is deciding to be a friend of God.  We have this remarkable privilege, of Jesus our Savior, and yes, we’re all accountable to God, and we’re going to stand before Him, and give Him an account of our life. But throughout the Bible, we see this privilege that we can actually be God’s friend. And what friends do for each other is they support one another. So, they’re there for one another, and they develop a relationship. Friends challenge one another, and when we have a friend in Jesus, who says, hey, here’s what you’ve got to work on, and I’m sharing this with you, because I’m in it with you. And friends defend one another. And that’s really what evangelism is. We’re defending Jesus’ honor when we do evangelism.

Is goal setting important in a man’s life?

Yes, goal setting is important, but the mistake that most of us make when we think of goal setting is we think we have to know the future. And so, we set a goal. We don’t exactly reach it the way we thought we would. We get frustrated with it. We say, “I’m not very good at this.” The whole purpose of goal setting is just to keep us in motion.  All goals are is to give you something to shoot at, so that God can steer your life. The way goals work is all we have to do is say, God, what do you have next for me? We don’t have to know what the big idea is in our life. We don’t have to know what the future looks like.  And we’re told in the Bible, in his heart, a man makes his plans, but the Lord directs his steps. And so, our job is just to have something we’re moving towards so that God can steer us. And when we stop setting goals, and we stop moving, then the message is, get moving.

What steps can a man take to be a man of principle? Is there a procedure you can go through, or is it just something that evolves and happens organically?

I’m not a big fan of the “just let it evolve, and it’ll happen,” and a lot of that’s because I grew up in a home that was not that healthy. And so, my instincts as a young man were not very good. And so, I have discovered that the more unhealthy the home you grow up in, the more deliberate you have to be as a man.  To become a man of principle, first you have to decide what your principles are. And that’s where the Bible is so helpful to us.  It lays out the principles of life. And so, it starts off as an intellectual process where you identify what are the principles that I truly believe in. And often, we give intellectual assent, but we don’t buy into it at the level of our will. So, let me just be personal about it, so that I can hopefully illustrate. One of the principals in life I believe in is you’re to tell the truth, that lying does not help you in any way. So, that’s the intellectual conclusion, that lying is not good. Telling the truth is always the best thing to do in life. That now needs to be applied to life, so, it starts out with an intellectual decision, now there has to be a decision of the will, that when given the opportunity to lie or tell the truth, I’m going to tell the truth.

Last question for you. As an author, what’s your greatest hope for this book?

I hope that people will develop their skill for making decisions. So much of what we talk about in life and in Christianity is this big mystery thing, “walk with Jesus”. We need to be decisive, we need to be leaders. And we tend to lead in the mystery stage. And what I discovered, is most of those things, they’re all skill-based. And if you learn the skills, it starts to feel easy.  I tell men all the time, “If I took you to the airport, stuck you in a jet, told you to fly it, if you don’t have the skill or the training, you’re going to be intimidated. But if you’ve been trained and you have the skill, you go for the ride of your life.” And my hope is that guys will take this book, and actually work the skills, and practice them enough until they become mirrors. If we become better at decision making, there’s going to be less emotional turmoil in our home. Emotionally, all of our relationships are going to be better, and we’re just likely to enjoy our life more.

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