Many times I get parents who have questions from their kids they can’t answer. Kids love to ask hard questions about God, life, death, sickness, injustice, heaven, hell, the Bible etc. I think we get frustrated when we can’t articulate answers. I used to think I had all the answers or I was somehow coming up short. I thought being a good pastor, father, and Christian meant I had to have an answer for everything. Now I have changed the way I think. Here’s how I’ve come to think.
- If we had all the answers we wouldn’t need faith. Faith is about the unknown as much as it is the unseen. We can’t know everything there is to know. Some things just take faith. If we knew everything that is in the mind of God we wouldn’t need to trust Him daily. God wants us to lean on Him when we don’t know the answers. If God gave us everything we needed including all the answers, we would be tempted to not rely on Him.
- God is bigger than us. I know this one is obvious but it needs repeating. If God was able to be completely comprehended by our finite minds He wouldn’t be a God worth serving. I know that statement might challenge your belief system. Our minds and comprehension is limited. When we are young we think we are all knowing and invincible. Age brings wisdom for most of us. God is so powerful, so vast, so marvelous that we can’t wrap our minds around all He is. Angels in heaven sing His praises for eternity, each moment having a glimpse of His glorious might revealed. Our small minds can’t fathom the depths of His love and therefore can’t entirely know his character.
So as parents what do we do when our kids have questions that challenge our faith?
- Don’t freak out. When you freak out kids stop telling you things. Sometimes they are testing you.
- Realize it’s perfectly normal to have questions. There’s nothing wrong with your kids if they are asking these questions or having doubts. This is natural. A tested faith is a stronger faith.
- Be OK with not having all the answers. I think sometimes we think its bad to not have the answers because we want our kids to put their trust in us. Remember the ultimate goal in life is to train our kids to trust God.
- Be open about your own struggles of faith. Sharing your story helps your kids see an end or a least a progression to their story. Don’t think you have to appear invincible to your kids. Think about how much you connect with a pastor when they are vulnerable. Do the same with your kids.
- Teach your kids to pray. Here’s a crazy idea. Show your kids how to talk to God and bring their questions. You don’t know everything but He does.
- Teach your kids how to read the Bible. Get them some devotional books. Use our placemats and devotional materials from church. Use the SOAP method (read more here or here).
- See if you can find the answers. Some questions can be answered if you dig in yourself. Ask a pastor. Google it but be prepared that not all answers are created equal.
Here’s three things I like to ask leaders I lead and leaders who lead me:
- What is your story?
- Getting someone to talk about themselves is the best way to tear down any walls. That’s pretty much everyone’s favorite subject to talk about anyway: themselves. If you know where someone comes from and what they’ve been through you have a better understanding of them as a person.
- Where do you see yourself in future?
- After you know where they’ve been, you can see where they are going. High capacity leaders have a vision for themselves, their organization and their families.
- How can I help you get there?
- Lastly you connect yourself to people by asking how you can help them get to where they are going.
I don’t usually ask the questions in this format and definitely not all at once. I try to make it as natural and organic as I can. I certainly ask lots of other questions but this is the basic strategy behind how I approach helping leaders.
“Ask It” by Andy Stanley is a book about a question each person should ask when making any decision. I’m a huge fan of Andy Stanley and this book didn’t disappoint for me. I am a big fan of coaching the staff and volunteers that reports to me. One of the primary ways I encourage them to grow is to ask questions.
Andy leads us to one question that will lead us to make wise choices in life. He encourages teenagers to be taught to ask the question at a young age. He explores that question from multiple facets. The book talks about the alternative to asking the question and the price we pay for ignoring it. We are encouraged us to ask the question in the light of the past, present and future as well in our relationships.
I love what Andy says in the intro: “This is more than another book for me. This is a life message.” Some might dismiss that as bravado but after reading it I agree. I will be using this book to train my staff and volunteers to go beyond just asking questions but to ask the right question.
I would encourage you to pick up this book and read it if you have a heartbeat. I think even more so for anyone who is a leadership position.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for my review.
I’ve already mentioned how and why I like questions in previous posts.
I was thinking tonight of times where I missed opportunities to grow and learn by asking questions of those who were leading me. So here’s some of my favorite questions.
Why are we doing this?
Why do we do this in this manner?
How can we do this better?
Who can we get involved on our team that isn’t already involved?
Who has insight to this challenge that we don’t?
Who has already solved this problem?
What do people outside our organization think of ______________.
What can we do to make my organization better?
What strengths are we not utilizing?
What people are being underutilized?
Is this really necessary?
What are your favorite questions?
A leader asked me this questions the other day. Honestly answer these questions for yourself.
Are you willing to serve? What level are you willing to serve?
Are you willing to be patient with imperfect people?
Are you willing to say “I’m available” even when it’s inconvenient?
Are we ready to go the distance for people?
One of the things I want to endeavor to do better is to help leaders realize, develop, and achieve God given dreams in the context of the local church. I believe that God has put a dream within each of us to do something great for Him. If you haven’t found what that is I encourage you to find out by really seeking Him. I know that if you seek Him, you will find Him.
In Genesis 37 Joseph has a dream and tells it to his brothers. His brothers react negatively and begin plotting on how to kill him. I am sure you know the story but I encourage you to re-read it this week. Make sure that when you find your dream, don’t tell the wrong people. You need to find faith people who will support your God-given dream.
Here’s a few questions I have for you…
What are your dreams (in the context of doing something for God)?
Again, if you don’t have anything please begin to ask God to show you. He has a plan for you.
How can I (or others) help you achieve the dream God has given you?
Everyone needs someone to come alongside them. God doesn’t call people to do ministry alone. If its small enough for you to do by yourself it probably isn’t from God. Dream bigger.
Have you ever told some of the wrong people your dreams?
How did they react?
What sacrifices will you have to make to realize your dream? What will it cost you? What resources will you need?
Are you willing to pay the price?