Leader and Role Development
Make Wise and Timely Decisions

“Make Wise and Timely Decisions,” Administering Appropriately: A Handbook for CES Leaders and Teachers (2003), 27–28

“Make Wise and Timely Decisions,” Administering Appropriately, 27–28

Make Wise and Timely Decisions

As leaders and teachers understand gospel principles associated with a particular decision, seek inspiration, obtain counsel from helpful sources, and follow some fundamental steps in decision-making, their choices will be in harmony with the purposes of the Lord.

The Importance of Wise and Timely Decision-Making

Making wise and timely decisions is one of the most important things we do. Poor decisions inhibit progress. CES leaders face many situations that require wise decisions to be made: hiring, placement, performance appraisals, program development, training, curriculum, budgeting, enrollment, development and care of physical facilities, and acquisition of properties. These decisions affect CES, the Church, and the lives of individuals. Wise decisions should be based on gospel principles. It is, therefore, essential to understand the underlying gospel principles inherent in a particular decision. CES leaders should understand the sources for help and some fundamental steps in wise decision-making.

Sources of Help

As CES leaders prepare to make important decisions, they should seek inspiration and counsel from the following sources:

  • The Holy Ghost. CES leaders should counsel with the Lord in all their doings, and He will direct them for good (see Alma 37:37). Those who “come boldly unto the throne of grace” will “obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). Moroni taught that “by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things” (Moroni 10:5).

  • The scriptures. To understand gospel principles it is important to have an understanding of the scriptures. “Feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do” (2 Nephi 32:3).

  • The words of the prophets. In addition to the standard works, leaders should seek counsel from the words of the prophets as given in Church conferences and publications.

  • The Church Board of Education. All CES programs operate under the direction of the Church Board of Education (see p. 5). CES leaders and teachers should be familiar with the counsel from the board. Their counsel is communicated to CES leaders in Church and CES handbooks, manuals, guides, and correspondence (see pp. 12–14).1

  • Priesthood leaders. Local priesthood leaders serve as members of the local board of education (see p. 5). Priesthood leaders are appointed to chair the local board of education and the institute of religion advisory council. Priesthood leaders give counsel and direction in decisions relating to CES programs.

  • CES leaders, councils, and colleagues. Each CES leader and teacher has an immediate supervisor to counsel with. It is also wise to know what other CES leaders, councils, and colleagues have done in making decisions on similar matters (see “Using Councils and Committees,” p. 22).

  • CES handbooks, manuals, guides, and correspondence. CES leaders face many situations that have also arisen in the past. Previous situations have influenced policy and procedure. It is wise to refer to current instructions and policy as part of decision-making (see “CES Materials,” pp. 12–14).

Fundamental Steps in Wise and Timely Decision-Making

Following are some fundamental steps in wise and timely decision-making:

  1. Define and clearly understand the problem. A clear understanding of the problem increases the likelihood of successfully implementing appropriate solutions. Leaders should consider questions such as the following:

    • What is the fundamental issue to be decided?

    • Is this the real problem, or is there a deeper issue that is causing the problem?

    • Who will be affected?

    • When does it need to be solved?

    • Why solve it?

    • What will it take to solve it?

    • What previous experiences may be related and should be considered?

    • Are there additional problems inherent in the considered solution?

  2. Collect and analyze facts. It is important for leaders to carefully gather, analyze, and prioritize information surrounding any particular situation (see “Managing Information,” p. 24). Often, poor decisions result from gathering insufficient facts or from seeing the problem from a limited point of view.

  3. Evaluate possible solutions. There are often several solutions for a given problem. A leader should carefully consider the strengths and weaknesses of viable solutions before deciding on a course of action.

  4. Make a timely decision. All decisions should be pursued prayerfully, seeking the will of our Heavenly Father. President Ezra Taft Benson, while serving as President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, counseled: “Decisions should be timely. Sometimes a lack of decision on a point is actually a decision in the opposite direction. We need to make up our minds. …

    “… Get the facts, be sure of the basic principles, and weigh the consequences. Then decide!” (God, Family, Country, 147–48).

  5. Carry the decision into action with plans and assignments. Decisions must be implemented. To be valuable, decisions must be transformed from a plan into results. This is done by identifying a plan of action, making specific assignments, and appropriately delegating responsibilities to others (see “Delegating Responsibilities,” p. 29).

  6. Communicate with those affected. Decisions, plans, assignments, and responsibilities should be communicated to those involved.

  7. Follow up and reevaluate. Follow-up is critical to ensure that the decision is being properly acted upon. As circumstances change, there comes a time to review and begin the decision-making process again.


  1. See also Church Handbook of Instructions, Book 1: Stake Presidencies and Bishoprics (1998), 113–18.