Why “Keeping Your Options Open” is a Bad Idea

Maybe you can relate. You’re stuck and you have no idea as to what you’re doing or where you’re going. You pray and ask God to give you clear direction. And after some time, you begin sensing that God is speaking. You feel like you’ve heard from Him and are understanding where it is that He’s leading. But, after a few weeks or months, when things are not moving as fast as you thought they would, you start doubting; you start worrying. And deep down inside, you start questioning whether or not you really did hear from God. So, you decide to “keep your options open.” You start looking at other things you can do, places you can go, etc. And before you know it, you’re stuck in the same exact place. You never moved forward and really, you just spent the last year of your life moving backwards. Sigh.

This has been me during different seasons of my life. If I’m honest with you, there were times where I felt like I had to have that “cushion,” that security blanket just in case something didn’t work out. But really all it did was create more chaos, more worry in my life.

This past week, I came across James 1:5-8 and when I read the last 5 words, I immediately knew God was speaking to me; God was trying to get me to realize something:

“If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who “worry their prayers” are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open.” ~ James 1:5-8

It was then that I realized why keeping your options open is a bad idea:

  • You’ll get stuck in the “Grass is Greener on the other side” mentality: The more you keep your options open, the more you’re left wondering if there isn’t something better out there, something that will make you happier. And as long as you’re thinking that, you will never reach your full potential with where God has you right now.
  • You’ll settle for mediocrity instead of excellence: If you’re always looking for the next best thing, you won’t be able to concentrate on where you are right now. And if you can’t concentrate on where you are right now, you won’t take care of the tasks that are in front of you with excellence. Instead, you’ll do just enough until the next best thing pops up.
  • You’ll lose your focus: Focus is a good thing. Focus helps us achieve our goals. Focus helps us move forward. But if we’re consumed with keeping our options open, we tend to lose our focus. Instead, we keep focusing on what’s next and we miss out on the here and now.
  • You’ll worry instead of having joy with what today offers you: If you’re always looking for the next best thing, worry will be at the center of your life. You’ll worry about making the right decisions, what’s around the corner, if you’re ruining your life, if you’ve missed out on your purpose, etc. And as we know, worry tends to paralyze us.
  • You’ll trust what you see instead of what God has told you: When we choose to keep our options open instead of stepping fully into what God has called us to, we are ultimately saying that we don’t really trust God. YIKES! Believe me when I say, I’ve been there. If we feel like we need that cushion then we are living by sight and not faith.

So, where does this leave us? I think we have to come to a point where we are not afraid to commit; to fully trust God with what He has shown us and shared with us. He’s promised that if we will ask Him for help, He will give it to us. And if we will ask boldly and truly believe that He will not only answer, but will also guide us, then we have nothing to worry about. We can trust in His leading; He will not let us down. Don’t be afraid to trust God and the specific calling that He has already given you. If you’ve asked and He’s answered, move forward with His answer and let Him show you just how faithful He is.

Is fear or worry causing you to “keep your options open?” Feel free to share below.

Jen Bennett

Dr. Jen Bennett is the Inspirational Communication Specialist and Project Manager at iBloom. Jen’s passion is helping businesses, ministries and individuals, #BeWorthFollowing. Jen enjoys speaking, training, and writing on all things that inspire and help leaders build a digital footprint and personal brand that is different and that helps them stand out and influence people in a crowded and noisy social media world.

Comments

  1. Wow! True eye opener!

  2. You’re describing how I’ve been dealing with my life and trying to build a business.

  3. Fellow Hope*writer here. Wow. This articulated so well some struggles I’ve had as a creative and work-from-home mom in my current season. I feel focus is hard enough in general, but then I allow fear to magnify the problem and prevent me from doing my best. I’ll be saving and sharing this on my blog’s Facebook page!!

    • Oh how I can relate. As a work at home mom too, it can be so easy to let those things consume us, especially the fear. And before we know it, we stayed stuck for quite some time. I’m believing that God will continue to guide you and give you the peace that only He can give 🙂

  4. I feel like this was written just for me! When I left my job of 16 years due to health issues, I was at peace because I knew God was calling me out of my comfort zone into the field of writing, and I chose to trust him. There have been many days in the past several months, I’ve doubted. Not God but myself. And then I have to remind myself, God is in control and he knows what’s best for me. Thank you for sharing.

  5. These are really good points. I have been struggling so much with keeping my options open, and having trouble getting clarity for the next step. One year ago, I deeply believed God was leading me to pursue blogging as my full-time work. I recently closed my massage therapy practice, to pursue that. In the midst another opportunity came along, one I never expected. My husband and I believe it is “the right thing, at the right time.” I haven’t let go of all of my massage income because…safety, security, you know. Now, I find myself unsure of it all.

    Tonight at church someone prayed for me to hear God’s voice and know his direction. Thanks for being encouragement on that path.

    • I’m SO happy that this encouraged you! I’m believing that God will give you a peace that passes all understanding so that you may know His good and perfect will. Keep seeking Him and He will calm the doubts, worries and confusion.

  6. Jeannie D'Amico says:

    Oh my goodness, someone has been reading my mail or my journal. Just what I needed to hear today!! I am so stuck!! Been that way for too, too long. I’m praying for clarity to become unstuck!!

  7. I’m coming into a new season of my life. My youngest is heading to college and I am a single (Mom). I’ve been praying for a few years about the direction the Lord would want me to go in. I know its a ministry to help give hope to women and young ladies who have been or were in a domestic violence season of their life. I am a speaker and want to expand my non profit, to speak and more events. Not sure where God will lead me, I am still searching for that full direction, in this ministry. Thanks for the eye opener as well.
    -deb’s

    • Keep seeking and trusting God Debbie. As you do, He will guide you. Hang in there, in His perfect time He will find you and you will know that the time is now 🙂

  8. Being committed and sticking to that commitment is where I am at. Doing the commitment is so much harder than making the commitment. I am needing help with the DOING. I get started and hit a snag and get stuck. I am so tired of being STUCK.
    Just last week my husband was travelling and met a woman I have never met but somehow she read something I wrote. She cut it out, put it in her Bible and that devotional I wrote has helped her through some very tough times in her life. I should be blogging more but I am STUCK.

    • Oh how I get it. Yes, doing the commitment can be so tough sometimes, but I can promise you this, if you stay committed, ultimately God is being glorified and that makes Him happy. Keep giving your best everyday, keep asking God to help you get unstuck and with each new day, God will give you the strength, courage, words and peace to get through it. Hang in there!

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