Stop the feeding frenzy!
So we are campus ministry leaders. Our lives have been transformed by Jesus.
We read the Bible, books, and blogs. We attend conferences, workshops, and retreats and we listen to Sunday messages, podcast, and tweets.
A wealth of knowledge, insight, and experience has been building within us and we can’t wait to tell students.
They have problems, we have answers, and it’s our job to just tell them, right!? Wrong.
Often times the best way we steward the truths God entrusted to us is not by feeding people all of the right answers but by asking the right questions.
Enabling pride, disabling conviction
Feeding students all the right answers is a two edged sword.
First, it can enable a campus ministry leader’s worst enemy: pride.
Let’s be honest. It feels good to have all the right answers. It is flattering to be seen as an “expert” or “guru” on a variety of topics. It’s gratifying to say, “I’ve done it this way and it’s worked.”
However, this sentiment can lead to the dangerous phenomenon that Paul highlights in 1 Corinthians 8:1—knowledge puffing up.
“Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that ‘We all possess knowledge.’ But knowledge puffs up while love builds up. Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know. But whoever loves God is known by God.”
Though Paul was speaking contextually here about cultural matters (the Corinthian church was struggling with issues like marriage, conversion, and food sacrificed to idols), it is clear that within our own lives or even the lives of the Pharisees and Sadducees, all knowledge can puff up.
Sadly, when this happens we no longer build people towards God, we build them towards ourselves.
Will we possess a humility that leads students to the truth? Will we show our love for God by helping students discover what the Holy Spirit wants to reveal to them?
Secondly, feeding students all the right answers disables many Christians from forming solid convictions.
As ministry leaders, our job is to produce disciples that display maturity and the ability to multiply.
While a quick answer may convince a student you’re leading them the right way, it will not allow them to discover a conviction that can produce the longevity and faithfulness needed in the Christian faith.
I’m reminded of my struggles as a student with algebra. The answers fed to me by a study partner didn’t produce lasting results like the questions of a good tutor.
Are we telling students what to think in the moment or helping them learn how to think for the long haul?
The power of questions.
Even Jesus, in all of His infinite wisdom and knowledge is described as being full of grace and truth (John 1:17).
We can see a measure of this grace in the ministry of Christ as He empowers the disciples toward discovery and revelation by the hundreds of questions He asked in the Gospels.
- If you love those who love you, what reward is that? (Matthew 5:46)
- Why are you so afraid? (Mark 4:40)
- Why do you call me Lord and do not do what I say? (Luke 6:46)
- Is that your idea, or did others talk to you about me? (John 18:34)
Short, strategic questions like Jesus asked help us push past addressing the symptoms of circumstances and dive deeper to reveal faulty or accurate thought patterns.
From Genesis 3 to Matthew 16 some of the most powerful revelations come not from an obvious answer given, but from the right questions asked.
May we be leaders that disable the pride that puffs from being a “know it all” and enable new levels of revelation to those we serve by asking the right questions.