The Best Question Ever
By Elaine Olson, Ph. D.
It wasn't what I had planned for my one week
of vacation this summer, but in hindsight,
it may have been providential.
I found myself holed up in my parents' cottage,
nursing my family through a dreadful, rotating
48-hour flu, starting with myself. Thankfully,
I had tucked into my suitcase a book that
a friend had recommended, "The Best Question
Ever" by Andy Stanley. The book became
my week long companion, besides the
I think you know the symptoms of the flu.
In my profession, asking the right questions
is vital to success, but the notion that one
single question could trump all other questions
seemed presumptuous. So, before I opened the
book, I tried to imagine what that best question
could be? Certainly "Why"? is a
good question, generally uncovering even the
best-kept secret motivations. The common question,
"How did I get myself into this mess?"
seemed another worthy possibility. Even "Where
do I go from here?" is a terrific question
revealing a mature attitude to take steps
in a positive new direction.
I then wondered, Is it possible that one
question could help someone with a debilitating
eating disorder begin to appreciate food again?
Could the same question challenge a struggling
pornography addict? Bring clarity to a business
decision? Help get control of a busy schedule?
Cut through the blinding emotions of a budding
romance? Finally, curiosity got the best of
me and I cracked open the book to discover
"What is the wise thing for me to do?"
My mind suddenly flashed back to several
points in my life when I wished I had asked
myself this question. Perhaps I could have
avoided an impulsive stock, and come to think
of it, car purchase. It may have spared me
some heartache in the early years of my marriage.
For sure it would have diverted a few embarrassing
moments, when I've opened my mouth only to
insert my foot.
When we ask ourselves, "What is the
wise thing for me to do?" we are
essentially establishing strong boundaries
for our conduct. Boundaries based on wisdom
protect us from moral, financial, physical
and social disasters. These boundaries remain
a safe distance from the line of indiscretion,
allowing a margin for error. To more clearly
define our boundaries, we could ask ourselves
"What is the wise thing for me to
do, in light of my past experience, my present
situation and my future hopes and dreams?"
The Bible tells us that us that if we lack
wisdom we should ask God for it and He will
give it to us generously (James 1:5). In my
mind, this scripture makes two irrefutable
There will be times when we don't have the
When life's pressures cause anxiety, stress
or emotional instability; our perceptions
and judgement tend to be impaired. Even Solomon,
the wisest man that ever lived, found himself
lacking insight when the responsibilities
of kingship overwhelmed him. The wisest men
and women I have ever met recognize and acknowledge
their limitations. Admitting we don't have
the answers places us in the best position
to gain greater wisdom.
When we don't know what to do, ask God to
help and He will.
No matter the reason we find ourselves lacking
wisdom, seeking God invites His guaranteed
solutions to our problems. God promises in
the scriptures to provide insight and instruction
for making decisions - when we ask.
If asking for wisdom establishes safe boundaries,
increases wisdom and guarantees God's solutions
to life, "What is the wise thing for
me to do?" may truly be the best question
Elaine Olson, Ph.D., is
a professional counsellor, teacher and author.
She has a private counselling practise in
Ontario and has actively supported many social
and women's initiatives for the past 20 years.
She is married and a mother of three teenage