Caution: There will be spoilers in this review.
I had never heard about Andy Stanley before I read this book and I didn’t expect it to take the route that it did.
Lately, I have had this need to acquire as much knowledge as I possibly can because I have realised and accepted that I am a young adult, who is inexperienced and doesn’t have much wisdom about life. I need tools to guide me through my journey in this world and one way to acquire wisdom, is through reading books that will expand knowledge/open my mind, and learning from older adults (not in the gerontological sense, above 65 years and all but just anyone wise person older than me) by asking questions.
During one of my long train commutes to work, some questions popped into my mind. What was the most important thing I needed to know? Was there one thing that every wise or successful person knew or had in common? What was the one question I needed to ask myself or ask others in order to learn/live a purposeful life? What was the one thing I needed to know about life in general? I immediately chuckled silently to myself because I was just exhibiting typical human behaviour, e.g. always wanting a quick fix, the fastest route, the most painless, least excruciating solution and companies capitalize on this need. For example, there is always a new health trend, diet fad or fitness craze. “Lose 10 pounds in one week!” They promise. “Grow a big butt in 5 days!” They say. “3 day abs challenge” It reads. Then there’s keto, intermittent fasting, veganism, paleo etc. But I digress. (I seem to do this a lot I’ve been told)
My curiosity led me to begin browsing through kindle, to see if there were any books out there, that answered my burning questions. I saw this book and I was immediately drawn to it because of the confidence in the title. “Ask it- The question that will revolutionize how you make decisions” After reading a few reviews, I thought, “Okay, let’s see what this is all about.” When I started reading it, I didn’t expect it to take a Christian route or be written by a pastor. I didn’t specifically search for a Christian book but this turned out to be one of them, although Andy Stanley kept reiterating that the information in this book is for everyone and not just for Christians.
Okay, here comes more spoilers. The main question that this book advices us to ask ourselves, in order to avoid regrets and pain (and it takes him a while to get to it) is “What is the wise thing to do?” He explains this question further and even provides different variations of the question including, “What is the wise thing for me to do?”, “In light of my past experience(s), what is the wise thing for me to do?”, “In light of my future hopes and dreams, what is the wise thing for me to do?”
He also advices us to ask other wise people the question, e.g. “What do you think is the wise thing for me to do?” Or “In light of my past experiences, current circumstances and future hopes and dreams, what do you think is the wise thing for me to do?” This question(s) can be asked anytime and about anything really. From a small everyday decision to a big life changing one and he gives many real life examples of this in the book from eating to exercising to business decisions to affairs to one night stands or unwise friendships or relationships.
He even suggests things that sound extreme sometimes, e.g. He doesn’t counsel woman alone, there has to be another pastor present. He doesn’t ride in a car alone with a woman. He doesn’t believe that a married man should go to lunch alone with a female colleague and vice versa. He didn’t own a TV until he was married, so that he wouldn’t be tempted to tune into pornographic channels, (I’m guessing this was back in the 80s before the internet). Basically, he supports the idea that, setting precautions in order not to fail, no matter how extreme it may seem (and based on your personal weaknesses, since we are all different and things affects us differently, depending on our personalities, past and present experiences. So basically, know thine self) is better than no plan because that in itself is planning to fail.
I don’t want to go into much detail but he does expand on these questions with explanations, Bible verses and examples. He focuses on how we make decisions mostly for selfish reasons and how our decisions can impact our lives and especially the lives of the people we love. A memorable quote from the book is “Nobody’s dream would come true” in regards to a man he once pastored, who decided to have an affair, which led to a bitter divorce and him being estranged from his daughter. He regretted his decision and lost his family for a moment of pleasure. His wife did not expect to end a up as a divorced woman/single mother, but his actions made that happen and his daughter did not expect to grow up without a father. He missed her graduation, wedding, and it was only when she had a child that he made the effort to get back into her life but it was too late. The damage had been done. There are many examples like this in the book relating to relationships, business decisions, etc.
Although I found this book very interesting and educational, it is a Christian read. Some of the suggestions in the book can be followed without adhering to a faith based religion but the suggestions are based on scriptures. Even the main question “what is the wise thing to do” was taken from Ephesians 5:15-17. The author goes on to expand on this.
In conclusion, it was an engaging and thoughtful read and I recommend it to everyone asking some of life’s toughest questions.