How quickly do you make decisions?

The Greek word euthus (εὐθύς) means straight, both in space and in time. With respect to space, it means avoiding unnecessary detours, taking the most direct route. With respect to time, it means avoiding delays, getting the job done as quickly as possible. When it appears as an adverb in the New Testament, the King James translators render it a number of different ways, including “immediately,” “forthwith,” and “anon.” But the most literal translation, capturing the essence of the original Greek, is “straightway.”

I don’t use the word “straightway” in my daily conversation, but its meaning is intuitive. When you know where you need to go, simply go there. Don’t get distracted. Don’t procrastinate. Just do it.

Mark tells us that when Jesus called Peter and Andrew to be His disciples, “straightway they forsook their nets, and followed him” (Mark 1:17-18, italics added; see also Matthew 4:18-20.) My wife pointed out to me that this was not their first introduction to Him. They had previously become convinced that Jesus was the Messiah. (See John 1:40-42.) Nevertheless, Mark wanted us to know that they did not spend a lot of time on this decision. They made it “straightway.”

When an angel commanded Alma to return to the city of Ammonihah after being abused and kicked out of the city, he “returned speedily” (Alma 8:18). I wonder if he could have done it any other way. If he had thought too much about the decision, he might never have returned.

Nephi’s brothers thought of lots of reasons not to return to Jerusalem when an angel told them to go back. But Nephi had already decided to follow the guidance of the angel. Even though it was nighttime, he went straight back into the city, “led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which [he] should do” (1 Nephi 4:6).

In 2012, a group of researchers led by David Rand, a Harvard University behavioral scientist, conducted a study to determine whether human impulses are selfish or cooperative. They found that when people are deciding whether to do something generous, the longer they spend, the less likely they are to do it. Rand concluded, “We should try and keep our eye out for situations where we feel an initial impulse to do good, but on further reflection, rationalize and say we don’t have to” (“Mulling Over a Decision Makes People More Selfish, Study Suggests,” Science, 19 September 2012).

Elder Ronald A. Rasband taught:

We must be confident in our first promptings. Sometimes we rationalize; we wonder if we are feeling a spiritual impression or if it is just our own thoughts. When we begin to second-guess, even third-guess, our feelings—and we all have—we are dismissing the Spirit; we are questioning divine counsel. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that if you will listen to the first promptings, you will get it right nine times out of ten.

Let the Holy Spirit Guide,” General Conference, April 2017

Camilla Kimball counseled one of her neighbors, “Never suppress a generous thought.”

Today, I will act quickly on generous and cooperative promptings. I will strive to act “straightway,” without unnecessary delays or detours. I will remember that the straight course is most often the best course.

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