the shape of leadership

Guiding Gen Z Through Decisions

Three Practices to Help Young Adults

Kent Ingle on December 6, 2023

We’ve all had those moments in life when we had to make major decisions — whether it was changing careers, starting a family, or purchasing a home. When considering the options, we may have sensed that those choices had the potential to redirect the course of our lives.

In my current position as president of Southeastern University, I face decisions on a wide range of issues every day. Each of these decisions, no matter its size, can impact our students, staff and faculty.

While we have all felt the weight of our choices, I’ve noticed that young adults put an immense amount of pressure on making the right ones.

This past year, we conducted a general leadership survey among our students. One of the questions asked, “What are you most afraid of?” The third highest-ranking answer was “not making the right decision for my future.” The top two answers were “failing” and “not having enough money.”

As young people decide where to plant their roots, continue their education, or find the right fit professionally, we must prepare them to navigate through important decisions with less anxiety.

Below are three practices that I have taught when guiding young adults through godly decision-making.


Seek Christ for Guidance

When faced with big life decisions, we must help young adults determine from where they are drawing wisdom to make their choices. Is it coming from their thoughts and feelings? Or from friends and family members? We should always encourage them to seek direction and discernment from Christ before turning to other sources.

Young adults may often struggle with differentiating between their inner thoughts and Christ’s voice. If their reasoning or logic counters Scripture in any way, then they can be sure it’s not from Christ. When young adults intentionally pursue Christ, He will never leave them or lead them astray. God plants the Holy Spirit within us for guidance.

John 14:16–18 says, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever — the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”

Remind young adults feelings are fleeting. They can’t always trust a sense of peace until they ensure it’s from Christ and not the relief of choosing the easier or more comfortable option. To gain clarity, encourage them to spend time in prayer and find Scripture that supports their decisions.


Connect with a Spiritual Mentor

As young people decide where to plant their roots, continue their education, or find the right fit professionally, we must prepare them to navigate through important decisions with less anxiety.

Another important aspect of decision-making is for a young adult to seek advice from a spiritual mentor or leader. Although this shouldn’t be the determining factor, it can confirm their direction.

The Bible teaches there is great value in considering other perspectives. Proverbs 12:15 emphasizes, “The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.”

There were many godly leaders who confirmed my calling and profoundly impacted my journey. I learned early on to heed the advice of others. Having spiritual mentors speak into my life played an integral role in where I am today. And, I try to provide the same opportunity for students at SEU.

Through the choices they make, young adults can grow and mature in their walk with Christ. Ask young people if they have a spiritual mentor. If the answer is no, encourage them to find those they respect who can provide guidance and accountability amid hard decisions.


Trust Christ through the Process

Sometimes, the option that scares us the most ends up being the best one. The Bible tells us we will often be led to destinations outside of our comfort zone — it’s almost guaranteed. But through it all, we must believe Christ has a plan, one that is way better than what we can create on our own.

Isaiah 42:16 says, “I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.”

Don’t be afraid to give young adults the gentle push they need to make the leap and follow Christ’s call. Any worries or anxieties young adults may have can be given to Christ in prayer. Even if they don’t see the steps laid out clearly before them, reassure that it will become evident with time. All they have to do is say yes and trust Christ through the process.

Many young adults can often allow the mounting pressure of making the right choices lead them to make no decisions at all. By following the three guidelines above, we can help young people manage difficult choices.

We must also stress that young adults are not alone in this journey. Christ is with them every step of the way, and so are their spiritual mentors and leaders. How can you serve as a stepping stone in a young Christian’s journey today?

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