The Road Less Taken
The Road Less Taken
It was 1915, two friends walked in the woods. They came upon a fork in the road and wondered which path they should take. The friends happened to be poets, Robert Frost and Edward Thomas. This simple encounter that morning would inspire Frost to write one of his most famous and recognized poems, The Road Not Taken (1915). Originally written as a joke between friends, “The Road Not Taken” is a poem that argues for the importance of our choices, both big and small, since they shape our journey through life. For Frost, the most important decisions we make aren’t the ones we spend tons of time thinking about, like who we have relationships with, where we go to college, or what our future career should be. Instead, Frost’s poem posits that the small choices we make each and every day also have big impacts on our lives. Each decision we make sets us upon a path that we may not understand the importance of until much, much later (A. Robinson, 2021).”
What was the fork in your road? Sometimes our decisions are insignificant, like deciding which outfit to wear today. We have all had to make decisions, we have all had that “what if “moment. We play the “what if” game when things didn’t go the way we planned. If any of the following phrases sounds familiar, you’ve probably been a contestant on the “What if” show:
- What if I had finished college?
- What if I had taken that job?
- What if I hadn’t gotten married?
- What if I did or didn’t have children?
What if’s usually mark moments of regret, weakness, and vulnerability. We look at our past and wonder how things might have been different if we had taken the other path; what if we had made a different decision. According to clinical psychologist and life coach, Melanie Greenburg, PhD, “regret is a negative cognitive or emotional state that involves blaming ourselves for a bad outcome, feeling a sense of loss or sorrow at what might have been, or wishing we could undo a previous choice that we made.”
It’s natural for us to have moments of uncertainty and regret. Often, we reminiscence about how things were better or easier in the “good old days.” Life was simpler and decisions clearer; but Ecclesiastes 7:10 (NLT) reminds us:
“Don’t long for the good old days.
This is not wise.”
We have all made mistakes and had regrets; but these don’t have to define us. They bring us to that “fork” in the road forcing us to make decisions. I can’t tell you that you will never experience uncertainty or regret; or tell you which path to take when you reach your fork in the road, because I don’t have the answer. But I know that if you base your decisions on your values, character, and beliefs you’ll have less regret, regardless of the outcome. 2 Timothy 3:14 (NLT) tells us:
“But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught.
You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you.
As leaders, we must recognize that the decisions we make don’t just affect us; they affect those that we lead. The decisions we make will often serve as a mirror, reflecting and defining what we honestly believe. The “Six Steps for Biblical Decision-Making” (Rick Warren, 2017) provides a framework that can be used when you reach that fork in the road. You can obtain a more in-depth explanation of the principles by reading the article, but I have outlined the steps below:
- Pray for guidance.
- Get the facts.
- Ask for advice.
- Calculate the cost.
- Prepare for problems.
- Face your fears.
Challenge: You may not know when you will face the next fork in the road, but you can prepare for that moment. Consider the following questions:
- Do you believe that Jesus demonstrated the use of the “Six Steps for Biblical Decision-Making? How?
- Can you identify Biblical verses that support each step?
- Think of a moment of uncertainty or regret. What did you learn from that event?
As you continue, or embark, on your journey, remember that there are lessons learned all around us; especially, in the heart and minds of our elders, an often-neglected resource. Remember the words found in Proverbs 18:15 (VOICE):
“Clever people go after knowledge to obtain it,
and wise people attune their ears to hear it.”
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