For the one-millionth time, one of my children asked that question. As a parent, you eventually run out of facts or creative answers to the continual barrage of begging for information about the world around them. Simply said, kids are curious. Their young brains act like the long tongue of an anteater firing over and over to consume the answer to the deep questions of their young mind. Somewhere along the line, our capacity for seeking the answers to questions lessens. Or at least our courage to ask them.
We do not get much of a snapshot of young Jesus, but the Gospel of Luke gives us a glimpse. We get a quick narrative of 12-year-old Jesus in Jerusalem seemingly left behind like Kevin in Home Alone 2 wandering the streets of New York City. For three days the boy savior sits in the temple with the teachers where he famously calls it his Father’s house. Yet there is another lesson from boy Christ.
Asking Good Questions
We love the part of the story where Jesus looks at his mom and tells her he was in his Father’s house. We also love the part where this 12-year boy is astonishing the teachers with his wisdom. But don’t miss what else was happening. Jesus was inquisitive, he was curious, he had legitimate questions. So for three days, he put himself in a place to find the answers. He was sitting among the teachers. He was asking questions. He was listening for the answers.
When was the last time you asked questions in real search of understanding? When was the last time you sat with teachers? When was the last time you returned to being five years old and rattled off seemingly ridiculous questions like “why do giraffes have long necks?” Or “why do certain gorillas have red rear ends?” Maybe this is not the information you are in search of, but the value is true. Asking good questions leads to answers and answers lead to information and information leads to growth.
I once overheard a conversation between two pastors. One was a pastor who had been in town for several years. The second was a new pastor but had had significant experience in larger leadership settings. He was a strong leader with lots of high-level experience. Overbites of salad the first pastor spouted off all the things their church had done. He never asked a single question of the man who sat across from him.
He never once asked a question of a leader who had been somewhere he had not yet reached. As a student of leadership and learning, the greatest thing you can do when you get in the room or on a Zoom call with another leader or a teacher is to ask good questions. Questions indicate the posture of a student. Questions show that you are not simply interested in spouting facts, figures, or humblebrags about yourself. Questions show interest and intrigue in what the other person has to offer.
Find a Teacher
Flashback to the scene set in the temple, here is the King of kings, the Prince of Peace, the one who existed before the creation of the world sitting at the feet of his teachers asking questions and listening. Jesus put himself in the place of being a student.
We are never too old to keep learning. We are never too old to ask good questions. Until the day the Lord calls us home, there is something new to learn. Find a teacher and ask good questions. Then listen, really listen.
Jeff Pitts is a church planter in Cleveland, TN. He loves his family, coffee, and NEEDTOBREATHE.