Dealing with Difficult Decisions: Advice from a WWI Badass

Published on June 4, 2013

Screen Shot 2013-06-04 at 7.01.52 AMOne of the most decorated American fighters of WWI had initially not wanted to be a fighter at all.

How Sergeant Alvin C. York decided between his religious convictions against war and his desire to serve his country can provide every man with a pattern of how to wrestle with the weightiest decisions of our lives.

1. Sort through your motivations.

Before York could even consider what he needed to do, he had to make sure he honestly understood the motivations that had created the dilemma in the first place and were driving him towards each option.

Oftentimes, we come up with false reasons for settling on certain options. We say that a path just isn’t practical, when we’re really worried about disappointing our parents. We cherry-pick a religious justification as a reason for not doing something, when really we’re just scared to do it or can’t bear to put the responsibility for the decision on ourselves. But before we can choose between different options, we need to honestly understand and assess why we’ve chosen those possible paths in the first place.

2. Ask others for advice.

The first thing York did was to seek counsel about his dilemma from his pastor and mentor. But had he stopped there, with the man who headed the church that preached that war was wrong, his perspective wouldn’t have been very balanced. Instead, he also discussed the issue with Major Buxton, a man who had reconciled his faith with a professional military career. This gave York a look at both sides of the coin.

3. Study the question out.

Besides asking others for advice, the other part of the information-gathering phase is to study the question as much as possible. This may mean reading your scriptures like York did, and as well as reading the biographies of men who came to the same kind of crossroads. Do your part to gather all of the relevant information available to you so that you can be sure you are making a completely informed decision.

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