Jesus has a lot to offer on that skill. He must have been good at answering because people felt comfortable asking.
“What is truth?”
“When will the end of the world happen?”
“How can we learn to pray?”
“Who gave you the authority to do what you do?”
“Why didn’t you show up when we needed you most?”
Five insights into answering tough questions:
1. Start with the answerer. People may ignore, forget or reject the answer you give to their question, but they will remember how you answered. No one likes a condescending or self-righteous answer, even if the answer is a good one. People will remember you long after they forget your answer. When they need another question answered, who are they likely to return to – a person who made them feel small or one who make them feel accepted?
2. Consider the questioner. Why is the question being asked? Jesus recognized a trick question from a sincere one. He always responded to sincere questions with truth and grace. He responded to trick questions with truth and grit. The biblical accounts of Jesus’ life are coloured with examples of people asking him questions, often in accusatory tones, and usually he responded with a question. When religious leaders questioned him to trap him, he responded truthfully but turned the tables on them with a question of his own.
3. Field questions like they are friends. Questions are not a threat. Not knowing the answer to a question is not a bad thing. Every question may not have a ready answer. The response, “I don’t know,” or, “I don’t know but I’ll help you find out how to get an answer” needs to be sufficient.
4. “Pat” is never a good name for an answer. Sometimes we answer a question with what we perceive as “truth” and the questioner receives as “trite.” Good answers can lead to more questions or explanations. Treating a sincere question with a respectful answer will always serve you well.
5. In some instances, the response you give to a question may be rejected. The questioner may not like your answer. In one recorded instance, Jesus answered a sincere question and the response sent the person away sad. Responding to tough questions can be humbling, but that’s a good thing.
“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience…” 1 Peter 3:15
ALPHA is an environment where any question is acceptable. We discuss questions about faith, Jesus, death, suffering, the Bible, prayer, evolution, and more. ALPHA encourages people to make up their own minds about issues. See more info on ALPHA here.
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