Statistics, Decision-Making, & God

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I talked with a friend the other day who’s in his 50s. We were talking about a potential job opportunity on his table.

It was a significant step up in pay and influence. I asked him, “Why aren’t you strongly considering this?”

He responded with, “At my age, I can’t make a move like that. If I fail, I’ll have nowhere else to go. Statistics prove that people who have been in my position for as long as I have and transition to another church tend to only spend a couple of years there before they leave.”

There are two important words in what he said. “Statistics show…”

photo credit: Creative Commons License, user Mac Steve

Here’s my word of advice for anyone who uses that phrase:

Who cares what statistics show?!?

Statistics show

  • That everyone dies. But I’m not ready for that.
  • That more marriages end in divorce than stay the course. But I’m not going to quit fighting for the health of my marriage.
  • That I’ll be an absent dad. But I’m not going to let that happen.

Who cares what the statistics say? Not me. I’m not letting statistics hold me back.

I’m thankful that God isn’t limited by what statistics say has to happen.

God isn’t limited by statistics.

  • Gideon led an army of 22,000 300 to conquer the Midianites (Judges 6-8). Against the statistics.
  • Moses led the Israelites out of slavery to the most powerful man in the world. With no weapons (Exodus 12:31-40). Against the statistics.
  • Daniel was thrown into a pit of lions and survived to be a leader for his exiled people (Daniel 6). Against the statistics.
  • David, a boy at the time, defeated the best warrior the the Philistines had (1 Samuel 17). Against the statistics.
  • Abraham and Sarah birthed a nation at the ripe old age of 100 (Genesis 21:1-7). Against the statistics.
  • Jesus had 12 followers that took the Gospel to the ends of the earth (Acts). Against the statistics.

Statistics don’t hold a candle to God.

I know that wisdom takes statistics into account. Statistics aren’t evil, but can help inform our decisions. We should take them into account. But we should not use them solely in our decision making.

Don’t let statistics determine your decision.

Remember that you serve a God who overcomes odds and breaks through strongholds. He won’t be stopped by a mere statistic.

Neither should you.

*photo credit: Creative Commons user: Mac Steve

 

Christ follower, husband, father, writer, small groups pastor at Saddleback Community Church. Communications director for the Small Group Network.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • http://twitter.com/Mathendacil Pierre Schramm

    Great post! Yet statistics are good when coupled with hindsight: when you’ve succeeded against all odds, statistics remind you that you should be thankful and that God’s power is great.

    Would we be following Jesus if it were statistically possible for anyone to rise again after death?

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      So true…Jesus defied all statistics!

  • http://www.jasonvana.com Jason Vana

    Stastics show that most new businesses and nonprofits fail within the first year or two, but that hasn’t stopped me from starting a business and a non profit organization in the last year. When God tells you to do something, it doesn’t matter what the statistics say. He is bigger.

    Great post Ben!

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      Amen!!

  • http://thomasmarkzuniga.com TMZ

    Awesome, awesome, awesome. Love how the Bible’s full of ordinary people doing extraordinary things against all odds. Those examples you listed are all totally inspiring and show God as bigger than any obstacle we can imagine. Really puts things in perspective as I consider my own battles. Thanks so much for this post.

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      Glad to hear it was helpful. It was a helpful concept for my own heart.

  • http://somewiseguy.com ThatGuyKC

    That was awesome. I am not a statistic.
    BOOM!

  • http://www.bloggingtheologically.com Aaron Armstrong

    Good post, Ben! This is might be a bit tangentially related, but I find stats to be a tricky beast, not just because they can’t take the “God factor” into account, but you can twist them into saying whatever you want. Definitely adds to the “who cares” aspect for me. 

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      Totally agree, Aaron. They’re dangerous.

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