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The Question That Answers Everything

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What if there was one question that could protect your teen from harm and help them achieve all of their hopes and dreams and make wise choices? Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? But noted pastor Andy Stanley says that just such a question exists! Here it is:

“In light of my past experience, my current circumstances, and my future hopes and dreams, what is the wise thing to do?”

Wisdom is a tremendous gift that usually only comes with age. But by weighing their choices in light of these three “checkpoints,” your teens can make wise choices now—rather than learning things the hard way. As a matter of fact, the question works wonders at any age! Learn more about how the question that answers everything can help your teen make wise choices.

We often attempt to make decisions based upon simply what is right or wrong according to our personal values, our faith or our family. But thousands of decisions every day fall in that confusing gray area where there really isn’t a hard and fast rule to lean on. But by teaching your teen to filter these choices through three questions specific to them, you equip them to walk in wisdom every day.

1. What is the wise choice in light of my past experiences?

It may seem as if your teen has very few past experiences to draw on—hence the lack of wisdom. But it’s not entirely true. Even in their young lives, they already had experiences with positive and negative outcomes that they can learn from. Some examples:

  1. What happened the last time I went out with that group of friends? Good things or bad things?
  2. What happened the last time I became completely wrapped up in a boyfriend or girlfriend?
  3. What happened the last time I neglected to study for a Chemistry exam?

By teaching your teen to look in the rearview mirror for clues to better choices, they can keep negative history from repeating itself!

2. What is the wise choice in light of my current circumstances?

Everyone has different circumstances that shape the risks and benefits of certain choices. Rather than defaulting to major moral guidelines, making wise choices requires you to consider your current circumstances:

  1. Given the fact that I currently have a low grade in English Lit., should I go out with everyone tonight or study for the next quiz?
  2. Since I come from a family with a history of addiction, should I spend time with friends who flirt with drug and alcohol use?
  3. Since I have a busy extracurricular schedule this semester, should I take on one more activity?

3. What is the wise choice in light of my future hopes and dreams?

Different people have different hopes for their futures. Your child’s hopes may be different than those of their friends. They need to learn to factor their unique dreams into their decision making:

  1. In light of my desire to get into a highly competitive college, should I invest more time in preparing for exams or go to the concert?
  2. In light of my dream of one day marrying a person who has valued purity and waited for me, should I wait until I’m married to have sex?
  3. In light of my desire to one day be a leader in my community, should I spend time with friends whose habits could get me in trouble with the law?

Finally, remember that this multi-part question works for parents too! Is there an area of your life where an extra dose of wise decision making could benefit you or your family? Filter your plans through “the question,” and feel more confident about your choices!

Want to know more about how to apply this principle in your life? Check out Andy Stanley’s talks on this topic at Want to feel more peace about your teen’s life? Resolve to pray for them daily!

How you do you help your children make wise choices?

Dana Hall McCain writes about marriage, parenting, faith and wellness. She is a mom of two, and has been married to a wonderful guy for over 18 years.


Have you ever learned a lesson the hard way?

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