It’s one of the great privileges of being involved in pastoral care: asking people questions that will help them reflect afresh on their heart, their life and their loving Lord. Questions have the power to reveal wayward desires and join the dots between painful circumstances and troubling emotions. Answering them helps us re-frame experiences in light of the character of God and his glorious gospel.
Jesus asked a lot of questions. From the practical, “Why do you worry?” to the deeply theological, “Who do you say I am?”, from the emotional, “Why are you crying?” to the aspirational “What do you want?” – he knew how to craft a query that helped people progress in their walk with him. Many of us rightly spend our time thinking through how our questions can help those around us.
Trouble is, often we’re far better at asking those questions than having them asked of us. However much we know that we are all sinners in need of grace, all impacted by this broken world and all being refined as the Spirit works, there’s frequently a part of our hearts that believes we’re the strong ones – the sorted ones – the people that give rather than receive.
Sometimes this stems from pride or a belief that our struggles are insignificant. On other occasions it’s out of fear – a worry that maybe people won’t come to us for help any more if they see how broken we really are. At times, it’s just exhaustion – with diaries full to the brim with meetings with hurting people, there isn’t much time left for personal reflection. But whatever the motivation, it’s a dangerous place to be.
There isn’t a single Christian alive who doesn’t need brothers and sisters in Christ spurring them on to love and good works. We are all strugglers in need of comfort and encouragement. We are all sinners who benefit from others pointing us to a life of repentance and faith.
So how can we be as passionate about receiving wisdom as we are about giving it? Maybe you’ll allow me the privilege of asking you a few questions to help you along the way?
- Are you convinced of your need of Christ – whatever your gifting, your role, your experience and your age? Do you know beyond any shadow of doubt that you need Jesus every moment of every day?
- Are you convinced of your need of other people? Do you revel in opportunities to let others minister to you – to benefit from the wisdom, compassion, courage and perspective that they can bring?
- Are you committed to modelling repentance and trust in all the circumstances of life? Are you confident it’s what you – and the people around you need – each day? After all, people can learn masses from our Scripture-soaked words but may benefit even more from seeing biblical truth embodied in our lives.
- Are you willing to cultivate relationships where others can ask you questions – not just about the circumstances of life but about your drives, desires and decisions? And are you willing to pray that those people will be diligent in their care of you?
- Are you willing to set aside regular time to invest in those relationships, confident that doing so will bear much fruit?
Being people who are ready to reflect and answer as well as ask, is a joy and fertile ground for growth – whether it’s the removal of a log so we can see the specks in others more clearly, being accountable for that besetting sin, receiving encouragement in the midst of difficult days, or hearing wisdom when life is confusing. So, go on, allow someone close to you to ask you a question today…