Outdoor wilderness experience help you develop critical thinking and a good decision making process. Outdoor adventures are such a great training ground for leaders because they give you a keener ability to discern the will of God through solitude with him in the pristine beauty of his Creation which is absent of everyday distractions.

RELATED: 3 Ways that Solitude in Creation Helps You Hear God Speak

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Learning how to make sound decisions during an outdoor adventure situation is applicable to the rest of your life. For example, thinking through how to chart a vocational path will vary from person to person but what it really boils down to is a decisive decision making process about the route you are going to choose. Time outdoors hiking, climbing, paddling, etc. helps you develop the ability to process environmental conditions that effect decision making. This skill is transferable to all of your life. Journeying outdoors also teaches you decision making skills to care for the needs of a whole group. Time outdoors is incredibly beneficial for your own personal development. But then multiply that times 10 if you take out a group of students or friends to help them also connect deeply with God. If you approach wilderness experiences as an opportunity to connect what you are learning outdoors to what God might teach you in the spiritual realm, then you will find that outdoor adventures will also actually increase your access to biblical wisdom in order to make levelheaded decision. Sound decision-making involves handling three types of knowledge:

1) Knowing what to do

2) Knowing how to do it

3) Knowing when and why to do it.

If there was ever a need for this generation, it is to help people throw off the shackles of decision-paralysis so they can do something with their lives in the full freedom of Christ. Especially in the developed world, our younger generation has had many things handed to them, and, as a result, hasn’t learned how to weigh decisions and assertively decide a good moral direction. The wilderness offers a veritable cornucopia of decision-making scenarios.

RELATED: Taking Care of Your Soul to Know Jesus Deeper


If you are leading a group in the outdoors, programming a learning goal of “Rapid Decision-Making” into your week simply requires you to anticipate a handful of scenarios that will come up based upon the route you are taking. One simple way to do this is to 1) lay out your map and 2) run your finger along your route and jot down every landscape feature you will come across. Then 3) write down some ideas for teachable moments for your group when you get to that point in your route. As the facilitator, you can serve your group by simply preparing how you are going to present decision-making situations to your group so they can participate in the process and learn how to make rapid, sound decisions.

For example, if you know you are going to cross a river, think through how your group will evaluate the risk and come to a decision if or how to cross the river. Is the risk too high or is it reasonable? What factors will you present to the group to let them make the decision? Learning how to make decisions in adventure or survival situations actually teaches people a skill that will be useful in every aspect of decision making back at home. Your job as an outdoor leader is to connect the dots and help your group see how the lessons learned from decision making in the wilderness directly applies to their life back home.

RELATED: The 3 E’s of Rapid Decision-Making Skills in Outdoor Leadership

Would you rate yourself as a decisive decision maker?

What paralyzes you the most in making decisions?

How does indecision negatively impact a leaders influence and effectiveness?

If you would like to learn more about how to connect what you are learning outdoors to what God might teach you in the spiritual realm, you might want to read my book, Christian Outdoor Leadership, and sign up for my weekly newsletter below:

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