Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. -Ephesians 5:17 (NLT)
Impulsivity, as I’ve learned, is not a hallmark characteristic of a true believer. Flying off the handle, and letting words fly that should never have been uttered, leave marks on the souls of those around us…and in ourselves.
OODA: Observe, Orient, Decide, Act
A United States Air Force Colonel and military strategist, John Boyd, developed a decision cycle known as the OODA loop, or Boyd loop. OODA is an acronym for:
OODA has been applied to many areas of thought and strategy, and it can likewise help true believers act in meaningful, God-honoring ways.
Hotheads skip the observation, orientation, and decision parts of the loop, and just act. Obviously, that can be disastrous, especially in interpersonal relationships, and especially if we’re trying to make Him known through how we live and act.
In his letter to the believers in Galatia, Paul explains that self-control is one of the fruits of the Spirit. To have it means biting our tongues when we want to lash out, or even to tell someone off, when maybe neither will do anything in the big picture but leave things worse off than they were before.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. -Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV)
So, when faced with our own flesh’s impulsive nature, or that of those around us, we can apply OODA:
- Observe with discernment what is actually happening, minus the tinting of emotional distortion
- Orient your mind with the Holy Spirit, listening to what God would have you do, in a way that will honor Him
- Decide, prayerfully, on the God-honoring course of action
- Act intentionally, as a conduit for His love
When we let Him move through us, and act to His glory, there are no regrets as we interact with others.