Some years back a simple but profound question became popular. The question was “What would Jesus do?” This four-word question proved so popular it appeared in shortened form as “WWJD” on bracelets, tee shirts, ball caps, and bumper stickers. WWJD is a good question to ask yourself when making decisions. It’s also a good reminder of how we should handle the dilemmas we all face in life. If you ever find yourself struggling to make a difficult decision, just ask yourself WWJD?
I used to ask this question when counseling Christians who were struggling with life’s exigencies, problems, and dilemmas. It was usually effective in helping them determine the course they should take. Then, one day when I asked a client this question, he responded: “It doesn’t matter what Jesus would do—I’m not Jesus.” I was taken aback by his response. In fact, he had me stumped momentarily.
I didn’t know if the young man was making an excuse for failing to confront his problem or if he had a legitimate point. That’s when a response popped into my head out of the blue. I told him: “You’re right. You aren’t Jesus, and clearly Jesus can do many things you can’t do, so let me restate the question. What would Jesus have you do? If Jesus were standing right here beside you now—and He is in the form of the Holy Spirit—what would He have you do in this situation?”
The two questions come down to the same thing when you think about it, but restating WWJD in this way did the trick for this young man. I think he knew all along what Jesus would have him do; his struggle was with following through and doing it. But the reminder that Jesus was standing right there next to him in the form of the Holy Spirit and that Jesus had expectations of how he should proceed broke through the emotional inertia that had been holding him back.
We all face this kind of dilemma from time to time. It is one thing to determine the right path to take in a given situation; it’s quite another to actually take that path. If you ever find yourself in this situation, remember that Jesus is standing right next to you. Then ask yourself, “What would Jesus have me do (WWJHMD)?” Knowing He is right beside you and that He has expectations of how you should handle any and all situations might just give you the strength to follow through and actually do what Jesus would have you do.”
Let’s look at an example of a dilemma we all face from time to time: the temptation to tell a “little white lie” to keep from hurting the feelings of someone we care about. A friend asks you, “Do you like my new dress?” You know your friend just bought the dress and spent a bundle on it. You also know she likes it and is hoping you will validate her purchase as well as her taste in dresses. Unfortunately, you think the dress looks terrible on her and wouldn’t be appropriate for the social event she plans to wear it to.
Telling her the truth is certain to hurt her feelings, but telling her you like the dress would be a lie. What should you do? On the one hand, you don’t want to hurt her feelings, but on the other you don’t want her to wear a dress that will make her look out of place at the social event in question. Nor do you want to lie. Ask yourself, “What would Jesus have me do?” He would, of course, advise you to tell the truth. You should be tactful and gentle in doing so, but you should tell the truth. If you care enough about this friend to worry about hurting her feelings, you care enough to tell her the truth.
Asking WWJHMD is a good way to cut through the confusion that often surrounds the decisions we have to make. If you ask yourself this question and then consider that Jesus is right next to you as you ponder what to do, the confusion will evaporate. You will know what to do.
Dr. Goetsch is the author of Veteran’s Lament: Is This the America We Fought For? and Christian Women on the Job: Excelling at Work without Compromising Your Faith, Fidelis Books, an imprint of Post Hill Press.