The questions that learning leaders pose challenge their followers to see complexities and interrelationships in [major issues] and launch inquiries that stretch the bounds of their worldview. Moreover, this work is never done. What is learned one day is used the next as a bridge to considering a new set of understandings and challenges.
+ from “Learning as a Way of Leading” by Preskill and Brookfield
It isn’t uncommon to reference the idea that Jesus answered most questions with questions. At times when women and men were at risk of facing persecution or losing their lives for following him, it would seem that if there were ever a time to answer directly, clearly, give the people “something to hang their hats on,” break it down because “only a few can understand,” it would have been then; it would have been when guards were carrying him off; it would have been when asked an ultimatum of a question by Pilate; it would have been after coming back to new life. But he only asked questions, adding to the confusion with people who were having a hard time understanding anyway.
There is an ease in going along without questions, resting on what others have said with authority. There is an ease in “taking their word for it,” and leaving the hard stuff to those we think know better. But Jesus engaged those who “wouldn’t understand” with questions that made these even more confusing.
Christ was constantly explaining what the kingdom of heaven was like, and it was always upside-down, backwards, inside-out, heretical, inappropriate. And on-purpose.
And it was always posed with a question. A set of illusive stories with no explanation, but counted on the fact that those listening, who had ears to hear, would indeed hear it.
I had coffee a couple of weeks ago with a friend who had been told not to ask any questions about this and that from those in leadership. Something in her, because of what she knows about what Jesus is up to in her own life and world, forced her to ask more questions. In respecting leadership, she was forced to ask them more questions. Ask others more questions. Listen past the answers sometimes shaped to shut down thought and conversation and merely align allegiance. And she took on the challenge.
What was so thrilling for me was her excitement now on the other side of those initial questions. She is renewed in what her calling is, what her faith is about, what her God is doing in the world, and what Christ has set in motion.
She is reminded all over again of the extreme danger that asking questions poses, and the risks involved when shattering what has been by asking what should be. But more than that, I am reminded of the great job that comes in assuming we are always missing something important, in asking others, in reading and learning, in trusting the largeness of God enough to bring him our questions.
Her face and grin as she sipped her coffee has become a symbol for me of what, whenever I am tasked to lead others, I am really being called to do; God doesn’t need me to tell them what they need to know as if they aren’t smart enough to think…instead, I get to join others in asking good questions about a good God who is making all things new.