The Two Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask

Have you ever heard this statement? “There’s no such thing as a stupid question. The only stupid question is the one that isn’t asked.” I suppose that in theory that statement has validity, but it says nothing about how “stupid” one may feel for asking a particular question.

Humor aside, the importance of asking questions cannot be understated. They are what transform static thinking into critical thinking. Questions open up doors of opportunity, reveal motives, foster fertile ground for innovation, and sometimes are asked as a result of an epiphany that has occurred in life.

The Foundation for Critical Thinking in an article entitled, “The Roles of Questions in Teaching: Thinking and Learning”, asserts that, “thinking is not driven by answers, but by questions.” They contend that every single field of study that has survived the test of time and scrutiny began with questions or the field would never have been developed at all. All major breakthroughs in an industry or genre of life have come as a result of someone displaying the courage to ask questions. Therefore, they conclude that when the questions stop, the learning has come to an end and only those who are asking questions are the ones engaged in the process of thinking and learning.

Without a doubt, questions have tremendous significance in the arena of discovery and evolution, but I think even more important at times is not the questions themselves, but knowing the right question and seeing those questions as key to finding out the purpose for your existence.

In the bible, Acts chapter 9 records the story of the conversion of a man named Saul who later became known as Paul, and how one serendipitous moment in his life produced what I believe to be the two most important questions that anyone could ever ask.

Question #1 – Who are you Lord?
Saul had just received permission from the high priest to go to the city of Damascus and jail men and women who were Christians without question. On his way there a bright light from heaven knocked him down and he asked, “Who are you Lord?” The question Saul asked gives us an insider’s view of the process that was ongoing in his heart. His question forces us to ask the question, “How did he know he was “Lord?”

From a purely practical, non-deep and non-spiritual standpoint, it wasn’t an unnatural reaction. A burst of blinding light from the heavens suspends your ability to view the natural world around you; the logical conclusion is that whoever is responsible has a high level of authority.

Jesus’ response to him is astonishing. He said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” History relates to us that goads are sharp instruments used to spur or guide livestock. Oftentimes the livestock would kick against the goad causing self-injury and would soon learn that “kicking against the goads” was an exercise in futility. Paul had been kicking because God had already been dealing with him, his efforts to resist had reached futility, and he had come to a point of surrender. When did the kicking begin?

If you take a peek at the final verses of Acts 7 you will the find the ultimate demise of a Christian proselyte by the name of Stephen. After preaching a compelling message to Jewish leadership, the response was quite startling: they stoned him to death. At the feet of his stoning, consenting to his death was Saul. It is possible that the words that escaped from the lips of Stephen as life left his body, “Lord do not charge them with this sin” began Saul’s “kicking against the goads.”

Are you kicking against the goads?

Question #2 – What do you want me to do?
After God places us in a position to ask who He is, he then places a desire in our hearts to discover who we are, what he wants us to do, and what is our purpose and mission in life. Apart from purpose, life is meaningless. One can “mean well” and still lack meaning. It is a question that expresses a desire to serve God and serve people.

The two most important questions you will ever ask are waiting for you to open up the doors of limitless possibilities and change your life forever!


Waiting On Your Season

Gospel artist John P. Kee, on his Not Guilty album, which released back in October of 2000, (man I’m getting old), on track number 2, on a song entitled, “Right Here”, spoke words of wisdom that still burn in the depths of my spirit even until this day. He said, “The highest order of discipline is when you learn how to wait.”

Let’s be candid…no one likes to wait anymore. Have you noticed our domestic and societal behaviors lately? We change lines at the grocery store only to find out that the longer line that we were in was moving faster than the shorter line that we switched to. We stand at the microwave impatiently tapping our foot waiting for the last ten seconds to expire. We explode in unwarranted frustration waiting for the traffic signal to change only to be stopped by another red light. We pay $50 extra in shipping and handling fees to rush the item that we’ve ordered online. We unconsciously tune out others when we talk to them as a psychological mechanism to fast forward to what we have to say. Waiting is a lost virtue. Our sense of patience has vanished. Our serenity has eroded under the volcanic pressure of instantaneous gratification.

In theory, we live in an instant society; microwaves, faxes, SMS, instant messaging, email, PDA's, beaming etc., but in reality the old adage still rings true, "good things come to those who wait."

In recent segments of Christianity, particularly in what is commonly called the, "Word of Faith Movement", the doctrine of "waiting on your season" is being espoused. The backdrop of this teaching is that for those who have received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, even though they may be experiencing difficulties in life now, just like summer turns to fall, fall to winter, winter to spring, the pages in your life will also turn and if you just wait, soon it will be "your season." The presentation is given as if one could cause to God "hurry up" the season.

Normally, from what I have observed (even in myself) is a tendency to exacerbate my fleshly desires and then seek out persons who will agree with those desires or who currently have like desires. I fail to realize that God is speaking in my circumstance by telling me no or wait and sense I have allowed myself to become desensitized to the voice of the Spirit in this area I make a decision or enter an area of life to early without having the maturity or capacity to handle it.

A wise man once told me when I questioned him about an opportunity, he said, "If the door opens, walk through it. If it doesn't, don't worry about it.


The Associate Pt. 2

Last time we were discussing the challenges that all associate ministers and assistant pastors will eventually face, particularly those who aspire to senior pastoral ministry. I do not write as one who currently operates in the function of a senior pastor, but I approach this with a relevant peer perspective coupled with empathy, encouragement, experiential wisdom, and friendly suggestions.

To bring a greater sense of relevance and the appropriate amount of empathetic tone to this post allow me to first divest the function of ministry that I currently operate in. At this time I serve as the Young Adult Ministry Director at a very historical baptist church in Compton, CA. Prior to that I served as an associate minister at a church in Oklahoma City and have currently been preaching for approximately 11 years. With that being said, I have known for quite some time that God would call me to the senior pastor position and to teach seminary at a graduate level, but there were some character traits that were not fully developed that God had to work out and is continuing to perfect.

It is truly about character. I am not so much bothered (although I am bothered) by the immorality that is pervasive in the pulpit as I am about the integrity that is displayed in the aftermath, i.e. pride, denial, entitlement, etc. Suffice it to say that if God has not elevated you to the position of senior pastor then I believe that he is using this period of time to remove, plant, cultivate and develop character traits that will give you the privilege to shepherd his flock as he would do it Himself (Jer. 3:15).

This is not to say that your "character flaw" has anything to do with immorality or that you are entrenched in some great sin, but it is to say that God knows us and he knows the proper time to place us.

It is extremely difficult to wait on destiny. We are constantly tempted to kill Saul, sleep with Hagar, or betray Jesus (preachers you know what I mean). Impatience is a weapon that the enemy uses to cause us to be unncessarily anxious about something that, from a faith perspective, is already done. Now I know that is easier said than lived. However, it does not negate the urgent need for our attention to these matters. If you are gifted, if you are anointed, if you are talented, if you are indeed called, my brothers and sisters our time for senior leadership is coming. We must be prepared for the fight and not get sidetracked because we have yet to assume a position or a title.


The Associate

You've been preaching for a while now, haven't you? You've been faithful, diligent, and reliable in your function as associate minister/assistant pastor, but admittedly you're beginning to experience feelings of being "weary in well doing." You're beginning to notice inconsistencies in your pastor's preaching/teaching versus his practice. You feel like you're not being fed spiritually. You've talked to your pastor about it and it appears as if his answer is littered with subtle manipulation that is deferring the inauguration of your personal ministry. It seems the only time he calls you now is when something is wrong, he wants to tell you something you did wrong, instruct you in some church matter, or to inform you about a preaching opportunity of which the last one was months before. Lately, you've been thinking about leaving the church. You've received invitations to serve at other churches in the same position, but you feel that your gift will be more appreciated more there than at your current church.

Your church seems dead. You can't necessarily find anything doctrinally incorrect, but you can remember when the church was on "fire" and now it seems it has dwindled down to the final sputtering embers. All of the young people have initiated a mass exodus explaining to the pastor that in order to grow they need to go. You look around you, you watch TV, you see other ministers who are getting more opportunities than you, and it seems clear that it is time for you to exit. But there's just one thing: you haven't found peace about leaving and you can't figure out why. If you've got a few more reading minutes, I'd like to tell you.

Welcome to the LORD'S SCHOOL OF MINISTRY. The school that is more interested in taking you through the PROCESS than giving you something that is PROCESSED. Everything that I have just described in the first two paragraphs I went through and am currently going through and more. I've been mad, confused, ready to leave, ready to give my pastor a piece of mind, etc., not realizing that although from a preaching perspective I had been blessed with wonderful gifts I still lacked the poise, responsibility, emotional stability, grace, wisdom, compassion, and humility needed to shepherd the people of God. God was using my pastor to create necessary scenarios to mold, shape, and discipline me and as long as I viewed as something being done TO ME and not FOR ME so that God could effectively work THROUGH ME, God would never really be able to USE ME.

I don't want you to get bored with this post, but obviously there is MUCH more. Those of us who are waiting in the wings, God is preparing us to do something great, but we have to wait our turn and learn to see the wisdom in the waiting...

I promise I will continue this...