Seeking Sound Judgement

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Lloyd D. Newell

A critic of modern culture once asked, "Why do so many people pray to acquire good fortune, and so few pray to acquire good judgment?" Why, indeed, do we turn our heads so readily toward the illusions of wealth and the mirages of pride and pretense, when what will ultimately benefit us most is greater insight, discernment, wisdom, and judgment?

In some form or another--to some degree or another--we exercise our judgment almost every minute of every day.  We decide, with or without much thought, what to wear in the morning, what we'll give our attention to at work, how we'll spend our free time.  We determine, consciously or otherwise, how we will treat a spouse, how we will interact with a friend, how we will deal with a difficult child.  We choose how to face an unexpected challenge, how best to settle a dispute, how to resolve a crisis of faith.

And, to greater or lesser degrees, we can see the effects of poor judgment without having to look very far.  Fortunes are lost through bad judgment.  Children are alienated through careless interactions. Marriages are destroyed through careless decisions.

To avoid the consequences of such ill-advised actions, we may wish to spend some time each day feeding our minds and our souls with worthwhile instruction--whether it comes from the books we read, the media we allow to influence us, or the moments we take for quiet reflection.  We may, when needed, ask for the counsel of a wise parent, a trusted associate, a counselor, or a religious leader. And we can seek out spiritual sources that will support us when significant decisions are faced.

Given the elusive nature of the riches we so often seek to acquire, we would do well to seek instead for sound insight and judgment. Then, in the words of Neal A. Maxwell, we will be better able to make judgments based on "the things that matter most, so that those things are not at the mercy of the things that matter least."