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,
..well, 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
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 the question;
"What is the wise thing for me to
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
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
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 daughters. www.elaineolson.org