Years ago, I had an insightful conversation with a friend. He shared a story that helped me create a decision-making process in my life.
A troubling situation was taking place that required him to make a difficult choice. He said the decision he was asked to make violated his preferences, not his principles. He eventually made a choice that was not his preference but allowed his principles to remain intact. My friend made a choice that preserved harmony in the group in which he held a leadership position. Over the years, I have come to know him to be a person who did not take the easy way out of tough decisions to maintain a false peace. As a man of integrity, he spoke the truth when required, even when he voiced a principle that did not align with popular opinion. He chose his relational battles wisely.
After the conversation with my friend, the preference vs. principle issue became a personal decision-making tool for me when I faced similar situations requiring my input or decision.
When we fail to make a distinction between preference and principle, we can become reactive instead of proactive when facing the issues of life. A reactionary way of living fails to exercise wisdom. Wisdom doesn’t choose sides as its first response. Wisdom helps us form our life-principles from the essence of truth, justice, and honor and those principles are what we use to create our response. Without making a distinction between preference and principle, the impact of our voice will disappear in the din of the cultural shouting match.