Would you like to make fewer mistakes? Try these tips …

The idea that a picture is worth a thousand words struck me when I first saw the photo above. I thought to myself, “I can identify with that dog!”

I think we all can.

We’ve all had times in our lives when something appeared to be a good idea, when our curiosity got the better of us, and we wound up making a decision we would quickly regret.

We made a mistake.

I’m not talking about sin. There’s a difference between a sin and a mistake, though we’ll all commit too many of both. But like the dog above, we’ve all made choices that put us in a difficult dilemma and took extra work, resources, and probably some help to get out of. Kind of like these mistakes …

    … when a drum major tossed his baton in Ventura, California, and it hit two 4,000-volt power lines, blacking out a ten-block area and knocking a radio station off the air. The baton melted …

    … a bank robber in Los Angeles told the clerk not to give him cash, but to deposit the money into his checking account …

    … on his first assignment for a Chicago newspaper, a rookie reporter drove a company car to a car-crushing plant, parked in the wrong spot, and returned from interviewing the manager just in time to see the vehicle being compacted into scrap metal.

Life is just plain more enjoyable when we make fewer mistakes and more good decisions. So let’s look briefly at just a few things we can do to reduce the number of mistakes we make (these suggestions also help us to avoid sin as well) …

1. Make time to think. That’s an odd sounding sentence, but if you think about it (no pun intended), we rarely make time in our day just to think. When we don’t, we leave ourselves to making split-second decisions, and the more we do that the more mistakes we make. We’ve become very habitualized to reacting to daily circumstances rather than thoughtfully responding to them. Just setting aside a few minutes over coffee in the morning to think through our day can help us be better mentally prepared for the things we can anticipate facing. By anticipating what lies ahead, you can think through the decisions you may need to make that day, and be prepared to choose your responses instead of just reacting.

2. Be grounded in the truth.Psalm 119:11 states, “I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” Memorizing, knowing, and planting deep into our minds and hearts the truth of God’s Word not only helps us guard against sin, but it also helps us prevent against mistakes as well. The Bible provides us with the knowledge, understanding, and wisdom we need to make good moral, ethical, God-honoring decisions; it provides a deep well of truth from which to draw from when we need to know what’s right, and what isn’t.

3. Be led by the Holy Spirit. It’s easy with the hectic pace of our world to awake and rush into our day, just reacting to our circumstances as we confront them. We actually forget that, as Christians, the Holy Spirit has taken up residence in us to guide us through this life. Jesus said, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth …” (John 16:13a). If we would make time each day to consciously yield ourselves to the leading of the Holy Spirit, we can trust that He will help us exercise better judgment than we would demonstrate by stifling the Spirit and making our own way through our days.

4. Pray without ceasing. The New Living Translation states 1 Thessalonians 5:17 this way, “Never stop praying.” By constantly talking to God as we make our way through our days, we stay connected with the One who made us and wants the very best for us. An ongoing communion with God helps us to stay tapped into His peace, power, and purpose as we engage people and activities.

5. Get some rest. The studies are multiple and decisive that a lack of adequate rest reduces our capacity to make good, rational decisions. Get the rest you need to keep your thinking fresh and you’ll make fewer mistakes.

Yes, it takes focus and discipline to apply these tips to your life. But it might be a mistake not to earnestly try.