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Answering Questions

The following is an excerpt from my book "Your Walk, their walk." This is from chapter 6, "What to Avoid," pages 131 - 135.

It is really tempting when our kids ask a question or something comes up in conversation that we feel we need to back up the truck and dump it.

“Daddy, where did I come from?� the seven-year-old asked. It was a moment for which her parents had carefully prepared. They took her into the living room, got out the encyclopedia and several other books, and explained all they thought she should know about sexual attraction, affection, love, and reproduction. Then they both sat back and smiled contentedly.

“Does that answer your question?� her father asked.

“Not really,� the little girl said. “Judy said she came from Detroit. I want to know where I came from.�

Right, it is really important to understand the question. Best way to do that is to ask questions to clarify what information is being sought. It is even better to ask questions and give short assignments rather than give long drawn out answers. We all know those who when asked for the time will explain how to craft a watch. We avoid them. So will your kids.

There was a situation with Jeff one evening, I hesitate to share it because this is a controversial issue in the Church. You may not agree with where I am in my understanding of this issue. That is ok. I do not share this in an attempt to sway your opinion, rather it is an example of using questions and dialog rather than monologue to lead your children in their journey of developing their convictions and application of the Word of God.

I was in my study one evening when Jeff came in from his small group meeting. My study is the first room to the left of our front door. Jeff came into the study and sat down with a troubled look on his face. I asked him what was bothering him. He told me that they had been studying I Timothy in the small group and this week they were in chapter 2. In verse 12 they read, “But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.� He said that the leader of the study had said that this was a cultural issue and did not apply any longer.

I asked him what was bothering him. He told me that he was not sure that the leader was right. He then asked what I thought. I asked him what Paul was referring to in the passage in I Timothy. He answered correctly that it was the order of creation and the order of the fall. I suggested that he go back to Genesis and reread Genesis 1 – 3 since that is the passage to which Paul was referring. Read those, think it through, and then come back and let’s talk about what you read. He left the office to do that.

About a half hour later he came back. I asked him what he had learned. He said that as he read through the passages and compared them to what Paul was saying in I Timothy he did not see how they could be considered cultural and not applicable. That created an issue for him because we go to a church that places women in leadership over men in some areas. I asked him what he was going to do. He thought a minute and said that when the women who usually taught in the high school worship service got up to teach, he would quietly excuse himself and go somewhere in the building and read his Bible. I told him that was a good plan.

The point here is not the conclusion he came to, rather the way he got there. I could have told him my position, I did not. Rather, I asked him to look at the Scripture more closely and to compare and contrast what was being said in the Scripture with the position of the leader. He came up with what he thought to be right. Then he had to apply it in his situation. I could have suggested several different ways to deal with the situation. Instead I asked him what he thought he should do. He came up with a good solution based on his understanding of the text. I liked the solution because it treated those that took a differing view with dignity.

There are a couple of underlying currents here that may be important. As I have shared this story with men there has been some concern expressed that they would not have been able to refer their son to the correct passage. Ok, that highlights what we have already mentioned in chapter 2 that we have to be in the Word for ourselves. If we have not thought an issue through we will not be equipped to lead another as they are seeking answers to the question. But we can investigate the question with them. A good response may be, “I am not sure about that, why don’t we carve out some time and look at the Bible together on this?� That sets you up to do a topical study with your child.

Another, important issue here is that we have to trust the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. There have been times when confronted with what I considered to be an error in one’s understanding of Scripture, I would get a knot in my stomach and begin a fervent assault on their position. I felt that it was essential to the successful plan of God to correct what I saw to be an error. I am learning that what the Bible says about itself is true. It is living and active and sharper than a two edged sword; piercing as to the division of soul and spirit (Hebrews 4:12-13). It is the case that if I share the Word of God with my kids, and trust the Holy Spirit to use His Sword, He will lead them into all truth.

It seems to me that this is part of the rest that Hebrews talks about. It is incumbent on me to get to know the Lord and the Scripture well; then to share that knowledge passionately with others, not just my children, trusting the Lord who made the one with whom I am sharing and sent His son to die for them, to use His truth to draw them to Himself.

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