"Then Saul said, 'I have sinned. Come back, David my son. Because you considered my life precious today, I will not try to harm you again. Surely I have acted like a fool and have erred greatly'" (1 Samuel 26:21).
Do you remember when your friend made a bad choice, a wrong decision like walking out of a marriage, or quitting a job over a petty disagreement, or allowing a disagreement to break a long-time friendship? And you said, "That person isn't thinking straight!"
Straight thinking cuts to the core of the issue and puts the whole in perspective. It gives you a grasp of the possible consequences, something we rarely have when our decisions are cluttered with anger and bias.
How do you think straight? Put these guidelines into practice in your personal life and see the difference.
Guideline #1: Rid your mind of emotional clutter. It is here that you have to evaluate the factors which have colored your thinking. Ask yourself, "What's my motive? Is my thinking influenced by anger, bent out of kilter by jealousy or revenge? Is it wishful thinking to presume that the other person is going to respond the same way as I do when there has been no indication of that previously?"
One of the big reasons that we don't think straight is that our thinking is definitely colored by what we hope to see happen when reality often is the very opposite. Straight thinking faces the facts and accepts them. It is willing to face personal rejection and do something about it.
Guideline #2: Straight thinking faces the consequences of our actions. That is exactly what most people refuse to do when it comes to domestic problems. Anniversaries, birthdays, funerals, and even joyful occasions such as weddings and christenings are all affected by what you do. Straight thinking looks down the road and realizes that with every decision there are consequences and your decision to turn your back on a set of unpleasant circumstances may only confront you with a much worse scenario. Are you willing to face that fact?
Straight thinking also means facing the consequences of doing nothing at all. For example, you have a lump in your breast and you are afraid that it might be cancer. Straight thinking says, "Go find out now while something can be done about it.” Fuzzy or ineffective thinking hopes that it will go away.
Guideline #3: Straight thinking includes consultation with God, our Heavenly Father. Few people understand the importance of the connection with heaven. You are thinking straight when you realize that God knows the future. He knows the turns and the bends in the road of life, and He also knows what will happen which may come as a surprise to you, but certainly not to Him.
Straight thinking includes God in our lives and the decisions we make as we ask, "Father, what is your will? What would you have me to do?" When you ask that in sincerity, it is amazing how quickly fuzzy, ineffective thinking becomes focused and clear. Quickly you see the consequences and choose the right way. With David we cry, "Teach me your way, O Lord; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors" (Ps. 27:11).
Guideline #4: Straight thinking lets you see where you have gone astray. It motivates you to make in-flight corrections and get back on target. This requires action. You've got to see where you missed the road to get back on it, and once you see things clearly, it becomes easy to turn around and head in the right direction. Whether you are a college student, an unhappy partner in a marriage, or a businessperson whose thinking has grown fuzzy, it is never too late to start doing some straight thinking. You'll never be sorry that you took time to think through your life and your future. Remember, it's something that only you can do for yourself.
Resource reading: Psalm 27:1-14