Sermon Illustrations on Choices


​​Decision Fatigue

When every option is available to us, we don’t actually have freedom; we tend to shut down. I experienced what sociologists call choice overload (or paralysis) and decision fatigue. If you’ve ever tried to pick out a paint color for a wall, stood in your closet full of clothes with “nothing to wear,” or found yourself trying to find the right word at the end of the day but your head is muddled from the thousands of decisions you’ve already sifted through, you know this doesn’t feel like freedom.

Like too many condiments to choose from, we don’t need more choices to live the good life. We probably need less. We need instructions, a guide, and appropriately placed guardrails to show us the way forward. The American grocery store—along with images of success like “climbing ladders”—showed me how I’d made the good life a cocktail of endless personal choice, ambition, and hurry. I’d shaken them all up and added Jesus as a cherry on top.

Taken from A Spacious Life by Ashley Hales. Copyright (c) 2021 by Ashley Hales. Used by permission of InterVarsity Press. www.ivpress.com

How to Make a Sacrifice

How do you define what it means to “make a sacrifice?” We say we sacrifice for our family, or sacrifice for our careers. We speak of Jesus sacrificing himself so that we can experience eternal life. Augustine of Hippo, the great North African bishop, defined sacrifice as “the surrender of something of value for the sake of something else.” Which begs the question, what are we willing to sacrifice, and

for whom or what?

Every day we make decisions based on our priorities, and those priorities sacrifice one thing for another thing. Sadly, we often fall

into habits, where we no longer can recognize our selfish, self-centered priorities. If sacrifice is, as Augustine once said, “the surrender of something of value for the sake of something else,” then what are you surrendering for the sake of Christ and his Kingdom?

Stuart Strachan Jr.


Churchill’s Choice

During World War II, Winston Churchill was forced to make a painful choice. The British secret service had broken the Nazi code and informed Churchill that the Germans were going to bomb Coventry. He had two alternatives: (1) evacuate the citizens and save hundreds of lives at the expense of indicating to the Germans that the code was broken; or (2) take no action, which would kill hundreds but keep the information flowing and possibly same many more lives. Churchill had to choose and followed the second course.

Klyne Snodgrass, Between Two Truths: Living with Biblical Tensions.

Four Million Romantic Partners

During my years working in corporate finance in London, a friend and colleague used to have vivid and often comic dreams, which he would recount over lunch at the office. One of the most poignant involved him cycling through central London on his daily commute. As he stopped at a red light, the crosswalk became a parade of every woman in the city.

The premise, he explained to us, was that he could choose any one of four million women for a relationship. The bind, of course, was that having so many options made any choice impossible. Sadly, this dream summed up my friend’s real-life vision of relationships. Although he had been in a long-term relationship and was already a father, his imagination was captured by that parade of infinite choice. The idea that there might be someone “better” out there, perhaps just around the next corner, put an impossible strain on his relationship. It eventually crumbled.

Jonathan Grant, Divine Sex: A Compelling Vision for Christian Relationships in a Hypersexualized Age, 2015, Brazos Press.

Marital Decision-Making

A husband and wife, prior to marriage, decided that he’d make all the major decisions and she the minor ones. After 20 years of marriage, he was asked how this arrangement had worked. “Great! in all these years I’ve never had to make a major decision.”

Source Unknown


Sometimes in the West, we assume we have more options available to us, or, we assume more options=better experiences.I recently heard a true story of an American overseas in Italy who tried ordering a nonfat soy latte with half-sweetener. The Barista looked at them and said simply,


Stuart Strachan Jr.


The Big and Little Choices

The pioneering work of Israeli psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky has been popularized in recent years by the gamut of notable thinkers, including Malcolm Gladwell (Blink) and, in this case, Michael Lewis. Their life’s work focused on the nature of human decision-making. In this short excerpt, Amos Tversky describes the difference between how the mind makes big and little decisions, and how those decisions shape an entire life:

It’s hard to know how people select a course in life…the big choices we make are practically random. The big choices we make are practically random. The small choices probably tell us more about who we are.

Which field we go into may depend on which high school teacher we happen to meet. Who we marry may depend on who happens to be around at the right time of life. On the other hand, the small decisions are very systematic. That I became a psychologist is probably not very revealing. What kind of psychologist I am may reflect deep traits.

Quoted in Michael Lewis, The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds, W.W. Norton & Co, 2016.


Coffee & the Tyranny of Choice

I remember when ordering coffee was easy. There were really only two decisions—regular or decaf, and black or cream and sugar. Today, ordering coffee feels like applying for a bank loan. There are literally thousands of options available. Some celebrate this as progress—the market providing more choices to fit each consumer’s taste. Others lament it for contributing to the tyranny of choice which complicates modern life.

J.R. Briggs, The Sacred Overlap, Zondervan, 2020.


Marital Decision-Making

A husband and wife, prior to marriage, decided that he’d make all the major decisions and she the minor ones. After 20 years of marriage, he was asked how this arrangement had worked. “Great! in all these years I’ve never had to make a major decision.”

Source Unknown

Organizing the World Quickly

The Yalta Conference, helmed by Allied leadership (Most notably Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin) came at the conclusion of hostilities in Europe during WWII. It dealt with a variety of major topics, including the fate of Germany, much of Europe and the ongoing war in the Pacific.

In other words, they had a lot of business to conduct and decisions to make. Early in the conference, Roosevelt mentioned to Churchill he hoped the conference wouldn’t last more than five or six days. Churchill, always a quick wit remarked, ““I do not see any way of realizing our hopes about world organization in five or six days. Even the Almighty took seven.”

Stuart Strachan Jr.

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