Opportunity Costs

In business and in life, opportunity costs are the things we must forego to make a specific choice. This happens all the time – choosing to spend an extra hour on a work project means one less hour for sleep or family or recreation or volunteering. Buying a new copy machine for the office means that money will not available to spend on additional inventory. An opportunity cost does not make a choice bad—the presence of these costs is just reality in a finite world with limited resources.

The modern concept of FOMO (fear of missing out) is just a new label for an old problem. We wish we could have the benefit of all the options without deciding. Perhaps the hardest reality is that we must choose. Not choosing is a choice. If I fail to choose, the window of opportunity eventually closes.

How to Choose

The main challenge of deciding is often what is unknown. Do I need to pursue a different career path? Will I still love my job in five years? We cannot be frozen by the unknown. Remember that not choosing also means choosing.

Consider parameters. A Christian wants to make decisions that are consistent with their faith. See if there are any scriptural commands that require or forbid a specific course of action (1 Corinthians 10:31).

Consider best and worst case. The best way to decide is often to consider best-case and worst-case scenarios and the likelihood of each. Likelihood matters because if you buy a lottery ticket, the best-case scenario may be that you win millions of dollars—but the far more likely result is you just lost money for every ticket you bought. Weigh the options and decide if you can live with the possible outcomes.

Seek wise counsel. For big decisions, seek wise counsel. God puts others in our lives and often speaks through them.

Pray. God works through good thought processes. He wants us to work through things biblically and logically. A critical part of that process is asking for wisdom (James 1:5) from the only Person who actually does know the future. Sometimes God will confirm a plan by giving you a solid and unusual confidence about a course of action.

Bigger Than Business

Some decisions are bigger than others. Whether or not you choose the medium coffee or the small will have relatively little impact on your life. Choosing if and who you marry is a much bigger decision. The biggest decision, however relates to your service. The Old Testament military commander Joshua said, “Choose this day who you will serve (Joshua 24:15).” Everyone serves something. Some people serve their appetites, or their pride, or their debts, or to please others. God made us to know Him and to serve Him. To make this possible, He served us first by sending Jesus to cover our sins and restore the broken relationship we had with Him. Joshua said, “As for me and my house we will serve the LORD.” Whatever other decisions we make, let that be our first answer too. As for our other choices, Augustine said, “Love God and do whatever you want.” If love is our driving motivation, it will greatly improve the quality of our decisions.