You Must Choose Wisely: a book review

We  all face difficult decisions. We  also carry regrets from bad choices (i.e. buyer’s regret, relationships gone sour, a poor business decision or watching the Spice Girls movie). Most of these poor choices could have been avoided if we asked ourselves the right question.

The Best Question Ever: A Revolutionary Approach to Decision Making by Andy Stanley

When facing important decisions, Andy Stanley, author and pastor of the second biggest church in America (when you’re second you try harder), contends that he has the best question ever for you to ask yourself. Taking Paul’s warning in Ephesians 5:15-17 to not be foolish, Stanley posits that when we are faced with difficult circumstances, we should ask ourselves, “What is the wise thing to do?” This is the Best. Question. Ever.

Sounds simple right? And yet, how many times have you failed to choose wisely?  Often we orient our decision-making around whether or not a particular action would be right or wrong. The problem, something doesn’t have to be ‘wrong’ to be unwise. Choosing a wise path will lead us away from the boundary edge of right and wrong and give us a sure footing.

Stanley unpacks this ‘best question ever.’  We need to ask if a particular choice is wise for us personally, in light of our  past history, current circumstances and our future hopes and dreams. He also  looks at the areas of time, money and sex (three things we all want more of). He advises us to invest our time in things that matter (and not foolishly waste it), to set proper priorities with our money and to guard our moral conduct (especially in the realm of sex/relationships). In the last section, he talks about the necessity of seeking wise counsel (letting others speak into your life).

This is the third book by Stanley I’ve read, and I  think The Best Question Ever is good.  His books have lots of practical advice–sort of biblical self help and personal development. This book is about making wise decisions and would be good for youth, and young adults. Others could also read it profitably. It is less helpful for picking up the pieces after having made poor decisions than it is for getting people to orient themselves wisely from the start (not really a criticism, just delimiting what the book is about). There is sage advice for everyone. But before you go out and buy it, ask yourself, “Is it the wise thing to do?”

Thank you to WaterBrook Multnomah for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Question: Where have you chosen wisely?

Aphorisms of my Aged Wisdom

On June 3 I turn 37.  I always have mixed feelings about my birthday. I don’t really mind getting older but as the years role on I feel inadequate in that I have yet to make my impact on the world. I long to do something significant and beautiful but thus far I feel like a bigger consumer than producer. Yes I have three wonderful children whom I am proud of. The above comment does not intend to slight them in anyway. I just feel like I have more to give. But I console myself with the fact that my greatest accomplishments await me and I have gained some wisdom in my few short years. Below is some of the wisdom I have acquired through the years. I hope that these lessons bless you and that you don’t have as hard a time learning them as I did. If I ever become a business guru or a motivational speaker, I imagine these are the sorts of things I would have on a plaque behind my desk:

  • You can only get so far with your raw talent, incredible good looks and superior intelligence. The world is full of people less gifted, less goodlooking and dumber, but who are more successful because they try harder. You want to get somewhere, hard work is necessary (though the othere stuff doesn’t hurt).
  • People don’t care what you know unless you are funny.
  • In Christ alone my hope is found but coffee is still really important.
  • No matter what you think about how sophisticated you are with your  metaphorical and metaphysical distinctions, your mother will never understand the difference between calling her a bitch and saying she’s ‘being a bitch.’  Once you invoke the category of ‘being,’ the only way your mom will hear that as an ontological pronouncement. It is probably best to shut up.
  • Honesty is NOT the best policy; Truth in love is. If you tell the wrong person that ‘honesty is the best policy’ they will consider it license to be a complete a-hole. Yet if people worry about how the truth will hurt someone, chances are they get it.
  • The way to a women’s heart is by being an incredible man.
  • If you don’t know how to be vulnerable with people and share your hurts, worries, weaknesses, you will never know the joy of being fully accepted and loved despite your glaring flaws.
  • The biggestthing I need from other people is not accountability; rather it is for them to name where God is at work and where they see the rhythms of grace in my life.
  • Everybody fails eventually. It is what you do after you fail that counts.
  • I was born into white male, middle class privilege and that has afforded me certain opportunities that have been denied others and I have benefited from an unjust system.  I used to think I was not a racist or sexist because I wasn’t actively oppressing people, but by privilege given to me at birth and my societal entitlement, I am still part of the problem, no matter how enlightened I think I am. It is only when I see my white privilege for what it is that I can hope and work for justice and systemic change.
  • A vote for president (or any other political office) is always the lesser of two evils. 
  • A good sense of humor helps put people at ease so they can talk about serious and personal stuff.
  • Overuse of humor makes people think that you don’t care, are not thoughtful about the issues and are not very deep.
  • In sunday school we all learned Jesus was the answer, but as we walk with Jesus we learn to ask the right questions.
  • If you hurt someone say your sorry regardless of whether you think you were right. Even if you think you are justified in your specific action, you still are responsible when some feels wronged and hurt by your actions. Defending yourself is always a secondary concern.
  • If you were alone on a desert island and you could take ‘one book with you,’ it doesn’t really matter which one you take because you are still going to die. 
  • Revelations talks about the ‘Lamb’s book of life’ because Jesus kicks ass AND takes names. 
  • That voice inside your head which tells you that you are not good enough, you don’t measure up and you will never amount to anything, that isn’t God. 

That is all I got for right now; next year I plan to be even wiser.