When you are asked a question you have just been given the opportunity to shape someone’s mind, heart, actions, and beliefs for the rest of their life. Which means, your answer will effectually influence their future families, and current spheres of influence. Rarely do we consider the implications our answers will have on other people other than the one receiving the answer. Jesus knew and considered it and so did James the brother of Jesus. (James 3:1).
As the father of 5 amazing kids I think their questions are poetic. They reveal what is inside their heart. Their questions inform me of their thoughts and feelings while helping them relate to me, each other, and the world around them. Each question from their mouth is an opportunity for me to shape them and those they influence throughout their life. The same is true for every person God sends your way with a question.
So here are a few ways to answer well even if not always correctly.
Unless you are an expert avoid answering right away.
The pressure is real. We have been trained to have a response when called upon. Thanks to our amazing educational system, we learned it is better to “fake it till you make it” then answer incorrectly or say, “I don’t know”. I have fallen victim to my own need to give an answer more than I care to share with you now. I know have done more damage than good for a number of people. Which, I want you to know, I’m sorry. I’m sorry to all those I’ve influenced into wrong thinking, beliefs, and actions based on my answers. I will stand judgement for that, so in the meantime. I’m sorry. Take a note from Proverbs and know, “Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues.”(prov. 17:28).
Learn to not know the answer but seek to gain wisdom and understanding.
You are an authority in someone’s life. Sometimes, that authority is simply unmerited but due to circumstance they have allowed you this position. In the pursuit of knowing God, and his desires for our life we will ask questions. I was just at a youth retreat for high school students this last weekend and here are some of the questions that I was asked.
- Why did God allow me to lose my baby?
- Why is it that even though I ask for protection, you still allow people in my life who hurt me?
- How can I know God’s will for my life?
- If you are all knowing, why did you create humans knowing we would sin against you and be damned to hell? Wouldn’t it have been more loving to simply not create people?
- Why don’t we see miracles today like they were recorded in the Bible?
- My brother and I were raised in the same house, and taught the same things. Why do I believe and he doesn’t? Why does he have to go to hell?
- How can I surrender my sin to God, when I desperately want to hold on to it? (I’m still trying answer this question in my own life).
Wow. I don’t know. I have theological answers, but truly I don’t have understanding in your particular life circumstance to give you a satisfactory answer. Some questions don’t have clear, applicable, immediate answers. Proverbs 4:7 affirms, “The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.” when I read this I see a command. A command that my life is to be spent in the pursuit of trying to ascertain the answer. It’s up to the person asking the question to pursue wisdom and understanding so as to know how to live rightly, act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God even in the midst of doubt and unknowing. We need to provide a theological foundation based on scripture, and then we need to encourage multiple perspectives to gain understanding. When you don’t know, encourage a lifelong pursuit to find out.
Every answer should point back to Jesus as our example and author for faith
Of the 113 questions Jesus was asked, Jesus asked 52 Himself. If Jesus were here today, and if He were to ask me a question – just one question – I’d really prefer it if He were to answer it as opposed to me trying to give it a go. His answers were always right and still carry immeasurable influence on the world. There are rarely questions I am asked that Jesus himself didn’t already have some response to or that God didn’t address through the authors of Scripture. When working with the next generation you will be asked questions. Great questions, hard questions, fun questions, awkward questions, simple questions, and life changing questions. As their mind is forming around your answers they will have real influence. Therefore, it is best to ensure that your answers rest on the foundations of Jesus’.