The Decision Maker

Regardless of how decisions are formally handled within the church, there will be one person who is the driving force behind a decision.  Often this will be the pastor but it may also be a board chairman or another person of influence who pushes heavily for a decision.  Here are some things that are going to weigh on whoever is behind making a decision.

Influences of personality on decision makers

The personality of a decision maker will affect his decisions. Personality is hard to define. Bits and pieces of definitions include the characteristic traits and patterns of adjustment; the qualities, habits, interests, and ideals of a person; the entire system of relatively permanent tendencies that are distinctive of an individual; and the pattern of responses made by an individual to stimuli. A number of specified personality factors have been identified that affect the decision maker.

1. Social class. The middle class thinks more about the future than the lower class. The lower class believe more in fate and supernatural and “good things will happen” and “bad things won’t happen” than middle class. This is the group that plays the state lotteries.

2. The achievement potential. There is a strong correlation between the decision maker’s achievement potential and his willingness to make difficult choices from among equally attractive alternatives.

3. The sex of the decision maker. Women are more conservative than men when unsure of their decision and more extreme than men when very sure of their decision.

4. The decision maker’s personality will determine his preferences for high, moderate, or low risks; and his preferences for innovation or proven methods. Personality influences the decision maker’s ability to accommodate large amounts of information, to deal with pressure in a crisis, to restructure ideas to relate specifically to a situation, and to use various leadership styles.

Risk-taking and decision-making

There are a number of variables that influence the willingness of an individual to accept risks. These variables include motivation, intelligence, personality traits, social class, sex, expectations, the amount of information available, and the complexity of the choice itself.

There is a “risky shift” when individuals belong to a group. Group decisions move in a risky rather than a conservative direction. Risk takers have a lot of power and insecure group members feel safe with group decisions.

Characteristics of risk takers

Risk takers have certain characteristics that have been identified:
1. More intelligent people will have a low variability in risk-taking. They develop one strategy and stay with it, while less intelligent people tend to make choices at random, with no particular strategy.
2. People whose values belittle failure will tend to settle for a low risk and low payoff strategy.
3. High risk takers are more dissatisfied on low risk jobs than low risk takers, but not more satisfied on high risk jobs.
4. High risk takers will reach a decision with much less information than low risk takers.
5. High achievers tend to seek risk, and low achievers tend to avoid it.
6. High achievers associate risk and uncertainty with high reward. When uncertainty decreases, then the outcome will become less attractive.
7. Low risk takers would rather accept the certainty of failure than attempt to cope with the uncertainty of only probable success.

Brinkmanship is to come as close to the edge as you possibly can without falling off. If you do fall off, then you should have the faith to trust God to deliver you. This kind of faith requires no calculation and no risk, but only obedience. This concept of brinkmanship definitely belongs to the risk taker.

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