The Right Question

Originally Published in Star News. A monthly publication for Law Enforcement personnel.

Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habits.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.

As law enforcement personnel, you have the privilege of seeing behind the curtain of bad decisions – the results of a life of compromise – that eventually ends in arrest, incarceration, or even death.

What a privilege it is, to see on a daily basis what does not work – return to the place and people you call home – and in that place, do the right thing!

I believe that one of the major reasons certain individuals ride the plastic is because they live by a question that, in the moment asks; “What is best for me?” They are not people whom we consider people of character because their focus is on self, not others. When it comes to their lives, they are asking the wrong question.

While we are–for the most part–people of higher character, I would say that many of us are asking the wrong questions as well. When we approach an important decision, because we have asked the wrong question, our character (and our life) is not all it could be. We ask better questions than those in our back seats, but not necessarily the best question. We ask ourselves things like:

Is it legal?
Can I afford it?
Will it hurt anyone else?

While good questions, they are not the best questions. There is a better question, one that will help us live lives marked by impeccable character. The question is:

Is this the wise thing for me to do?

The Apostle Paul in Ephesians 5:15 says; “Be careful how you walk, not as foolish men, but as wise, making the most of your time for the days are evil.”

It is not illegal, or harmful to anyone else to walk on the edge of what is right and wrong, balancing on the side of what is right. But, it is not the wisest thing to do.

It is not illegal, or harmful to anyone else to get an interest only home loan, to see how far we can go with a relationship without slipping, or ignore the small details of a report or investigation, but it is not the wise thing to do.

It is not illegal or harmful to anyone else for us to make entry alone, without backup, but it is definitely not the wise thing to do!

There are many compromises that we can make in life that do not qualify us as bad people, but they disqualify us from being “wise” people. We only need to be wrong once and our character will slip, or in the case of poor tactics, our lives could end.

Most of us would benefit greatly if we asked ourselves with every decision we make; “Is this the wise thing for me to do?” It’s that simple.

It is a question that will allow us to do what is best for ourselves and others every time. We live in a world of compromise. It is a world that says; “Just this once!” We must live above that standard.

“Teach us to make the most of our time, so that we may grow in wisdom. Psalm 90:12”

[Note: “Ride the Plastic” refers to the plastic seat in the back of the police car]